Here are some commonplace interview questions:
- What attracted you to this job?
- What did you like best and least about your last job?
- What do you know about our company and industry?
These kinds of questions are likely to get you rehearsed answers rather than the information you’re really looking for — what motivates the applicant, how they persevere in the face of difficulties, and how the challenges they’ve faced have shaped their thinking and behavior.
Three words that will make a difference
Now, look back over the questions above and rephrase each to start with “Tell me about…” Do you get a sense of how much more information the applicant would volunteer if you put your questions this way?
Would you answer the following two questions differently?
- What’s the biggest workplace fiasco you’ve ever been involved in?
- Tell me about the biggest workplace fiasco you’ve ever been involved in.
From an inquisition to a conversation
You can switch things up too, for example, by recasting your questions like this: “Everyone’s been involved in some kind of workplace fiasco at one time or another, tell me about one you’ve been in the middle of.”
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“Tell me about” also changes the vibe of the interview from an inquisition to a conversation, which is great because relaxed people tend to be much more open, honest, and forthcoming than those who feel they are in the hot seat.
Give it a try and see if these three little, game-changing words — “Tell me about” — don’t get you more information in less time and put you on the fast track to better hiring decisions.
This was originally published in the March 2014 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.