You have a position open on your staff, and now you need to start the interview process.
Love it or hate it, it’s part of being a manager.
So you sit down with the stack of resumes you received. Right off the bat, you weed out the ones that don’t have the qualifications to do the job. Then you ask HR to set up interviews with the folks you’ve earmarked as “potential candidates.”
You know all the right questions to ask. After all, you’ve been doing this for years, you’ve been coached by people who’ve been doing it for years or you’ve read extensively about the process.
And you’re a darn good listener. You can spot the “preplanned” typical bull, like “My biggest weakness is I’m a workaholic who loses track of time and ends up working late almost every night.”
I never buy that one.
So what key phrases do job candidates utter during interviews that tell you this person is YOUR man or woman for the job?
Here are seven examples that should be music to your ears:
1) ‘I’ve looked online and I see your company does XYZ. They are things I’m really interested in because …’
This shows they’ve done their homework, invested time in the interview and really want the job.
Candidates who’ve done research and know what your company does and its purpose, shows interest in the company and allows them to link their skills and ambitions to the company.
For example, I recently had an interview with someone. When I asked her which newsletter piqued her interest the most, out of the 20 newsletters we publish, she couldn’t name one.
It was clear she hadn’t done any research on the company and her interest in the position was just to earn a paycheck.
Sure she may have been nervous, but the interview didn’t get any better after that!
2) ‘I’m a quick study. Show me something once, and I get it.’
Managers don’t want people on their team who are going to suck up a ton of their time, because they have to be shown how to do something over and over again.
You want people who pick things up and process them quickly. It makes your life easier.
Here’s a little secret I’ll share with you: Ask people you interview if they’ve ever been on a debate team. It’s been found that debaters are quick on their feet and process new information easily.
3) ‘I’m resourceful. If I have any problems, I’m very good at finding a solution. For example, …’
All supervisors love resourceful people. Again it saves them time!
See the trend here? Managers want people who save them time, not cost them time.
So even if the job doesn’t have a problem-solving component to it, having someone who is resourceful and takes the initiative to find his or her own solutions and answers is a great find.
Since knowing whether candidates are good problem solvers isn’t easy to deduce in an interview, ask for examples if they don’t offer any.
Ask how they’ve approached and solved issues in the past – professional or personal, it doesn’t matter, as long as the examples relate in some way to the position they’re interviewing for.
4) ‘I’m easy to work with because I can get along with anyone.’
Understand, this doesn’t mean they like everyone, just that they can get along with everyone.
I’ve always said, “I don’t have to like you to work with you.”
Does liking your co-workers make it easier and a more pleasant experience? Sure, but it’s not a requirement.
People who are adaptable and open to other people’s ideas are team players and will help the work process flow smoothly. They don’t create conflict or problems.
They may bring up an opposing point of view or an alternative way of doing something, but it’s done in a way that isn’t disruptive to the process.
5) ‘I do whatever it takes to get the job done and done right. For example, …’
You want people working for you who are committed to doing things right no matter what.
When people are internally motivated to do things to the best of their ability, it allows you to delegate tasks without worry.
You can’t train people to do this, it’s innate. That’s why it’s vital that you hire for it.
6) ‘I’m 100% open to and welcome feedback.’
The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is False!
Everyone is teachable and if they aren’t, run away from them as fast as you can.
Being teachable means you are open to expanding your horizons personally and professionally.
People who welcome feedback, realize they aren’t right 100% of the time. They’re open to the fact that their peers, or you as their manager, may have a better way of doing something.
They see feedback as a learning experience, not a personal insult. These are the kind of people you want on your team.
7) ‘I’m a loyal and dedicated person.’
Why does this matter to you?
First off, it means if you hire this person they won’t talk crap about you or the company. It means they’ve looked into the company, like what it stands for, and they’re willing to commit their time and energy to its success.
What it doesn’t mean is they’re promising to work for you for the next 10 years. But as long as they are there, you have their loyalty and dedication.
Translated: They’ll be there day in and day out, unless they are truly sick or on vacation, and you can count on them.
Are there any other phrases you zero in on during interviews that tell you this is the person to hire?
If so, please share them in the comments box below.
Free Guide to Weeding Out the Bad Fits
These 10 questions will help you week out problems during the job interview process. This free downloadable cheat sheet is designed to fit on one page, so you can print it out and keep it by your desk.
Bob Gately says
We are incompetent If we don’t ask questions of candidates.
We are not serious if we rely only on questions asked during an interview.
What is missing is job talent; most executives don’t know what it is let alone how to measure it but it provides the frame work to create an engaged workforce, see below.
* 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
* 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
* The two 80 percents are closely related.
Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, long-term engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
II. Cultural Fit
III. Job Talent
Employers do a…
A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%
Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
II. Cultural Fit
III. Job Talent
There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
A. How do we define talent?
B. How do we measure talent?
C. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
D. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
E. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?
Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.
Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.
Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.
Renee Cocchi says
Thanks for you comments Bob! I agree competence, fit and talent are all vital to a having a successful employee.
Kirby Glad says
I fine that talent, or aptitude, is related, with rare exceptions, to what people love about their work. Most people enjoy doing what they are good at doing. So I use those questions as a surrogate.
Regarding number 1 on the list, the article stated that a person who hasn’t done their homework on a company is there just to earn a paycheck. I agree that a serious candidate needs to do their homework on a prospective employer. However, a vast majority of job seekers are out there because they are looking for a paycheck and any manager who thinks otherwise is naive. Are we just supposed to wink and then tell ourselves that candidates aren’t looking for a paycheck? The FEW who aren’t mainly looking for a paycheck probably won’t be satisfied doing the particular tasks that you have for them to do and they’ll soon quit anyway. Applicants to a nonprofit might be different, but not for profit companies.
Renee Cocchi says
I see what you’re saying, but what I meant was that they are only looking for a paycheck and nothing else. You want people who actually care about and want to do the job. If they only care about getting a paycheck and nothing else, then they won’t care about doing a good job. People who care about getting a paycheck AND care about the position will often be much more invested in the job.
Great article! Just one quibble (I am blessed/cursed with editor’s eyes!):
“When I asked her which newsletter peaked her interest the most, out of the 20 newsletters we publish, she couldn’t name one.”
The word that you want is “piqued”, not “peaked”. Common error!
John Walston says
you are absolutely right….. I’m changing it…
Deb MacGilvary says
I always like to ask someone how they are motivated. There are a lot of canned responses to this, but I find that when a candidate takes a beat before answering this – I get an answer that gives me more insight to who they are as a person. The answer that I always remember is when an accountant told me he really loved to see the numbers balance and do their magic. His face lit up when he talked about balance sheets. This doesn’t always happen – but has worked well for me.
Deborah MacGilvary says
Great article! I have found over the course of my 30+ years in HR that having a cultural fit and the right personality are much more important than skills. Most skills can be taught, while getting someone with the right personality and cultural fit can make a significant difference in the team’s functionality. Grant it – there are jobs where skills are what is needed, and only come through education and experience. That said, ensuring that they are more intuitive in working with others can go a long way.