Did you watch the Super Bowl this past weekend?  Even if you aren’t a pro football fan, I’m sure you will agree that both the Patriots and Giants have definitely been successful at building a winning team with the help of good player selection.

NFL teams follow the players throughout their college careers to determine if their skills will be a good match for what the team needs. They make their draft decisions after observing the game performance of the athletes. The pros know whether they need a quarterback or a defensive end before the college draft begins.

This same principle applies to hiring for your business. You also need to decide what you are looking for and then create your interview plan. While you have “game” performance information available on internal candidates, how can you determine the possible performance of outside people? The best way is to ask questions that will give all candidates, internal and external, an opportunity to share their past work performance with you during the interview.

Here are 4 interview question tips to help you with your team-building process:

  1. Use questions focused on past work performance. Examples include, “Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully help an upset customer. What did you do? ” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with your manager and share with me what happened. How was the situation resolved?”
  2. Encourage the candidate to include details and specifics in their answers. Many candidates will answer with something like “I’m always able to work out problems with customers. I’m good at dealing with people.” Answers like this don’t really tell you anything about their past performance.  Probe and follow-up by indicating you want them to take a moment to think of a specific time. I know silence can be a little uncomfortable during an interview. Look over your notes to give them time to think.  If they are still struggling, suggest they think back to a situation when they worked at a specific company. Don’t be willing to accept general answers without the specifics to support they have the skills for the job.
  3. Gather some contrary evidence during the interview. Everyone makes an occasional mistake and you need to know how the person deals with them. Add a couple of questions to your interview plan to cover the times the candidate was not successful. Preface the question by telling them that no one is perfect and you want to know what they learned from the situation.  For example, “Share with me a time when you were unable to…” and fill in a situation that will happen in your workplace. The answers to these questions will give you a balanced picture of the person. If the person says they can’t think of a time they made a mistake then you really have a problem!
  4. You will talk to some great people that have limited related work experience. They might struggle to come up with good examples to give you but this doesn’t mean they won’t be a great “draft” choice for your team. Encourage them to answer your questions with examples from their college classes, summer jobs, clubs, or sports teams.

The pros know that a player’s past performance is the best indicator of how they will perform in the next game. Standard interview questions won’t provide you with a true picture of their past performance. Build your winning team by asking questions that will provide the information you need to make the right selection decisions. What other suggestions do you have for good interview questions?

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