June 25, 2023


104. How to Conduct an Effective Interview

Hosted by

Brendan Rogers
104. How to Conduct an Effective Interview
Culture of Leadership
104. How to Conduct an Effective Interview

Jun 25 2023 | 00:53:34


Show Notes

In this episode, Brendan speaks with Jessica Weiss, Managing Consultant for Human Tribe Consulting and Training Company. Jess shares her insights on conducting effective interviews and leveraging behavioral-based questions. With many years of experience in the field, Jess emphasizes the importance of proper preparation and understanding an organization's culture and values when selecting the right candidate. Her expertise in combining mental and logistical preparations, as well as team involvement, allows her to provide valuable tips and strategies for leaders to improve their interviewing skills and ultimately make better hiring decisions. Tune in and transform your interviewing game with these valuable, proven methods.

Jess is a passionate coach and facilitator who thrives helping people and businesses meet their highest potential. Jess has connected with, and positively impacted a multitude of different businesses ranging from single entrepreneurs to global organisations. She is accredited in Clifton’s StrengthFinder, Hogan Personality Profiling, and Everything DiSC Workplace Behavioural Profiling. Some of the brands that Jess has worked with include ING, Harris Farm Markets, Terry White Chemmart, Virgin Active, Business Chicks, and Lendlease.

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Discussion Points

  • Importance of a solid interview process for leaders
  • Align hiring with the organization's current needs, culture and values
  • Properly prepare for interviews mentally and logistically
  • Know what you're looking for in a candidate
  • Involve your team in the hiring process
  • Use behavioral-based questions to assess candidates
  • Balance prepared questions and conversation flow
  • Be aware of silence during interviews
  • Create a suitable interview environment for candidates
  • Conduct quality reference checks during hiring
  • Tap into your network for valuable information
  • Document the recruitment process for consistency
  • Offer the job strategically and professionally
  • Post-interview considerations and follow-up
  • 3 Key Takeaways: 
  1. Confident leaders prioritize a solid interview process
  2. Confident leaders ask behavioral-based questions
  3. Confident leaders trust their instincts while seeking validation
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Episode Transcript

Brendan: Welcome to The Culture of Leadership. We have conversations that help you develop and become a more confident leader. Are you ready to dive into the world of job interviews to uncover the skills to do them well? In today's episode, I sat down with Jess Weiss, managing consultant for Human Tribe Consulting and Training Company. We unravel the intricacies of conducting effective interviews. From the importance of a solid interview process to the power of behavioral-based questions, Jess shares invaluable tips and strategies that will transform your interviewing game. Prepare to embark on a journey that should change the way you approach interviews. If you want to become a more confident leader, it's important to learn how to conduct an effective interview process. This is The Culture of Leadership podcast. I'm Brendan Rogers. Sit back and enjoy my conversation with Jess. Jess, why are interviews in your experience so important? Jess: I guess the reason that leaders should be thinking about their interview process—this isn't a sexy topic, this isn't an exciting thing to be focusing on for leaders—they want to be doing the work. They want to be having the team, onboarding them, and getting them into their roles. But if you don't have the right person, all of that goes to waste. The cost of turning someone over within the first year of their role is sometimes in excess of 200% of their annual salary. The longer tenure that someone has after that, then the more significant that's going to be. Getting your interview process right, particularly if we're in a job market where it is hard to come by good people, you want to make sure that if you're hiring someone, it's the right person. To do that, you've got to have a really solid interview process. Brendan: In your experience, have you found that business leaders, department heads, those types are not treating the interview process (I guess) with the respect that it deserves? Jess: I think because it's not something fun to do. It feels like almost a necessary evil. It's all we need to recruit again that it feels like almost, I'm doing this out of necessity, so let's just get it over and done with so we can get someone in, rather than treating it as an opportunity to find a really high-performing person, maybe even to tweak the role. Quite often, organizations it’s one-in-one-out. This is the role they were doing. This is the role that we need to do. It's actually an opportunity to stop and go, can we evolve this role? Are there parts of it that don't fit anymore? Are there parts that we need to add that weren't being done before? If we flip our view and start to look at it as an opportunity, it then doesn't feel like a waste of time or waste of energy to do it, but actually, it is a really big opportunity for leaders and organizations when they do have to recruit new people. Brendan: Let's set the scene a bit then. We talked about that pre interview process, what needs to be done there in the actual interview site or interview process, and then there's the post side of things and what may happen there. Where do you think the interview process as a whole should start? Jess: I think as soon as you realize that there's a need to bring someone on board, either because someone has resigned from a role or been terminated, or because there's a gap that needs to be filled. That's the point. Because if you jump straight into it, let's just throw an add-on without thinking about what we are actually looking for here, and I'm talking both sides. I'm talking about skills-based, technical skills, but also there's the behavioral side. We need to be thinking about both of those. To me, that's the starting point to make sure that everything else starts to fall into place to get the best person that you can, rather than a warm body because organizations ought to just be hiring more bodies. Brendan: That's a great point. I like what you're saying about technical and behavioral. Let's probably err on the side of behavioral through this process. Just say that because technical is really specific to roles, industries, and things like those, whereas behaviors are fairly broad across industries. If we have that lens just as general through the conversation, what should leaders be looking for or thinking about from a behavioral aspect in these people that are not just warm bodies? Jess: I think the biggest thing is to reflect on their culture, their values, and potentially looking at your best performance and go, what kind of behaviors do they have that maybe aren't our organizational values or aren't things that we're talking about? I'm going to make the assumption that there's a culture that's set in these organizations that we're talking to. You want to hire behaviorally for culture fit and for value fit, but also it's like, what about high performers do? What have they got that makes them different from others? Those are the behavioral things that you want to be looking for. That might differ, like you've said, based on industry, but also organization's organization, and sometimes even team to team within organizations. To some extent, all teams within have their own culture that sits within a greater one. That's what we want to be thinking about behaviorally. Who's going to be a really good fit? Who's going to add to our culture rather than be a detractor from it? Brendan: In that preparation for an actual interview, and if we think about the preparation to conduct the actual physical interview, how do you link the values, those behaviors, to the questions that you may want to ask in a conversation with somebody to unpack? Are they potentially a good fit for the organization? Jess: This is when behavioral-based questions come in. A behavior-based question is something along the lines of, Brendan, tell me about a time when. If a value that's really important is someone having to work under pressure and be able to work autonomously, I know that's not quite a value, but just as a simple example, Brendan, tell me about a time where you had a really tight deadline on a project, and you had to own it by yourself. Can you tell me about a time? What was the situation? What was the outcome? What did you do? I think a trap sometimes that we fall into when interviewing is we say, Brendan, what would you do if you were in a situation? It's a very slight difference asking a behavior-based question. Tell me about a time when. People can still potentially lie or potentially fluff themselves up a little bit, but you're going to get a really different answer when you're asking, tell me about a time when, because you're asking them to think about a previous experience versus saying, what would you do if, because that's a whole lot easier to give a really good answer for. Brendan: If you're an organization that really values teamwork as an example, which I think a lot of organizations do but they don't quite understand the concept of really what it is, what attributes, what responses or feelings should you be getting from the person's responses that may give a flavor of hey, this person seems to be reasonable team player, if we can call it that? Jess: Like you were saying, being a team player can be really broad. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about a team player is Patrick Lencioni's The Ideal Team Player. He talks about the three virtues—humble, hungry, and smart. His organization, that's their values—humble, hungry, and smart. They talk to that, and they hire and fire based off it. I guess it would be first and foremost for them to go, okay, well, yes, we're big on teamwork, but what does teamwork look like for us? Does that look like the results of the team over individual results? Does it look like I'm not in on that project, but you look like you're struggling. Let me in, let me get my hands, and let me see what I can do? Is it finding opportunities to train each other? What is teamwork? I'm like, get really specific here. What does teamwork look like? Because if you don't know what you're looking for, how can you know what you're looking for in an interview? How can you know what you're listening for and what you want to hear from this person if you're not really specific about what teamwork actually means for you and for your organization? Brendan: Where do leaders most fail in this preparation of the interview? Jess: I think part of it is what I was saying before about their mindset going into it. Seeing it as a burden rather than an opportunity, particularly if they've lost a high performer. They're thinking, oh, we're never going to find someone who's good, or they've lost a high performer that's got a really long tenure, and they're focused on everything that they're losing. I think the mentality and the headspace going in. I guess the other one is maybe the consideration, like what we're talking about with the behaviors that they're looking for. I think as well, what are we not looking for? Sometimes we fall into the trap of, this is who we had before, so this is who we need to have now, we need this type of person. Or this is the type of people on our team, so that's what we need. Diversity always outperforms. I think being maybe too narrow-minded in terms of what they're looking for is potentially a fall down as well for leaders. Brendan: It's almost like there's a need for the hiring manager, leader, business owner, that they need to have an eye in that crystal ball to know what they want from the team, from a person in the role now, but moving forward, and how that aligns with the business moving forward as well. Was that fair to say? Jess: Definitely. When I'm talking about interviews, I always say get the team involved. If it's a high-performing team, ask, what are we looking for? What's going to add to our culture of the team? What's going to add to our performance of the team? What are the strengths? What are the areas that we're lacking? Maybe that can start to form part of the basis of what we're looking for as well. In one form the only part of it, but it might help you go into either the advertisement part of it or maybe peeking between people. You might weigh into that, or it might even be the types of questions that you're asking to make sure that what you're looking for is what the team actually needs, rather than what maybe the hiring manager thinks they need, which is usually based on who they have before. Brendan: Tell me more about why you think that's important about getting that buy-in. Jess: Like you were talking about teamwork before, if this person is going to be part of a team, particularly if they're a tight team, particularly if they're a high-performing team that do value culture, it's not going to work if you're not finding the right person for the fit based on culture. But also if they're a high-performing team, they don't want someone on their team who's not going to add to it or at least achieve that level. You absolutely have to have the buy-in of the team, particularly if they're the ones that are working most closely with this new recruit. Brendan: Have you got any perspective? You will have a perspective and opinion on how often leaders take that burden on themselves, and think they've got to solve this problem themselves versus doing what you're suggesting, actually engaging the team, which I believe is actually a far easier process to do. It takes a lot of pressure off the leader. Jess: It's really interesting. I think it can swing both ways. I think sometimes leaders are not interested, don't want to be involved, I don't have time for this. That can be a real letdown, but I think the other side is absolutely them doing it. The problem when they do it is it defaults to, what was the role that we had before? What did I like about the person that we had before? Let's now go out and look for that. It just leaves gaps. It's not to say that you're not going to find someone good, but you're going to find the best person. Again, you're only going to find as good as what you know that you're looking for. The more clear you are on exactly what you're looking for behaviorally, culturally, teamwork-wise, then more chance you are going to have of finding that than if you've got a really fuzzy idea of what you're looking for. Brendan: Let's just make a couple of statements or assumptions here just to, again, continue to set the context. We're not going to go into the conversation about how to write position descriptions and all that stuff in this conversation. Let's make an assumption that we've got our pool, let's say, of some potential people that may be a good fit for our business, and we want to interview them. What other logistical things, if anything, needs to be prepared pre the interview? What should a leader be thinking about doing and even providing enough time for people to be able to plan themselves in coming in for an actual conversation? Jess: There are the obvious things like where and when is it going to take place. I think something leaders often forget about that I talk quite a lot about is their headspace that you're going to be in going into that interview. If you know that you've got a really stressful meeting that morning and you're going to be going straight into the interview, you're not going to show up at your best. What we need to remember is you're on display as well. Whether you hire that person or not, you want them to leave thinking, I want this job. I think sometimes we forget about that. We think, I hold all the power here, I'm deciding if I want this person. It's not that. You decide whether you offer them the job or not, but they've got one shoe as well. The headspace that you're going to be in showing up, and it's choose your mood. If you know that you're not at your best in the morning, don't do it in the morning. If you know that you've got a meeting before that often leaves you feeling stressed or under pressure, don't do it then. Be strategic about when you're actually holding the interview and also where you're doing it. If you have an open form office, you're going to see things going on outside, and you're going to get distracted by that, probably not the best place to be doing it. Even little logistical things like that can make a really big difference to the headspace going into the interview. I think the other part as well is, who else are you going to involve? Maybe for the first interview, it might just be the leader, or they might want to involve someone else, whether it's going to be that person's direct manager, or potentially another leader within. That's really good because that helps with unconscious bias. It helps that those people make sure that they've got different points of view and that they're seeing different things. Potentially, you're involved as well is also an important consideration to be made in the preparation. Brendan: Fantastic points. You've made so many great points on the prep side of things. If you were to say to a leader, look, if there are just three things that you did pre interview just to make sure that we're setting ourselves up for the best chance of success to have the right fit of people, what would you choose are your top three? Jess: First one is definitely know what you're looking for. That consideration needs to be more than just the technical side. Behaviorally, know what you're looking for. I think the second one is just the whole headspace and mentality around the hiring process. Going in with the right mentality to the interview but also just overall so that you're seeing it as an opportunity. I guess the third one is involve your team. Whether that's in the preparatory phase, or whether that's for the actual interview, just get others involved. They're probably be my top three. Brendan: I like those top three. You've done fantastic. Great ones. It's really to set it up for things to move forward, so fantastic top three, I think. Let's move to the interview. Again, just to repeat for our listeners and watchers, this conversation is not about providing a complete, ultimate guide on the interview process from pre, into, and after, but we're really focusing on some of these key points. Let's get in the room in this environment that you've set up and make sure it's an appropriate environment. What in your experience makes a good interview conversation? Jess: Nerves are good. If anything, you want the person who's coming in to be nervous, but you want to be able to try to settle them because if they're so nervous, you're not going to be able to see the true them and either potentially it means that you're writing off a really good candidate, or you're just not seeing the parts of them that you want to see, and you're not able to get the answers that you're looking for to be able to actually decide whether this is the right person or not. I think that's the first thing that we want to do. Nerves are good, but try to settle them. Part of that is just being a human being. Go in and just have a little bit of a chat with someone. Don't go in with the mentality of I'm trying to scare you and you have to prove yourself. Be human. Ask how they're going. Have a little bit of time to build that rapport so that their nerves can settle. A really nice starting question when you get into it, once you've framed it as I'm going to be taking notes throughout, take your time answering the questions if you don't understand anything. Frame all of them. A really nice starting question is, I've taken some time to look through your CV, but there's nothing like hearing it firsthand, can you talk me through a bit of your work experience? What that means is that you're starting with a topic that they know well themselves, and they're talking about just previous experience. Hopefully, something like that will just help settle the nerves a little bit so that you actually get an insight to this person as a real human, rather than someone who's just so nervous that you're not able to get anything from them. Brendan: I guess the trick is from what I'm understanding, if you can build that rapport as quickly as possible, then you're going to have the chance of a better conversation for longer. You're not spending half an hour trying to build a rapport and ease the nerves of the person, so to speak. Jess: Yeah, and also a better conversation. If the culture of your team is we have fun, we have a laugh, and we work hard, but we're light-hearted, and we'll stop to have a joke around, you don't want someone so nervous that you might not be able to see that part of them. You want to see the real them because only then can you potentially envision, yeah, this person would be a nice fit. I can see this person being in there and joining in on our banter, or having a little bit of a laugh. If you don't allow for that, then you're not actually going to see who they are. It's really hard to look for culture fit behaviorally if you're not seeing that person a little bit more at ease and a little bit more comfortable. Brendan: On a practical sense, what percentage of time would the interviewer speak for in a good interview in your experience versus the interviewee? Jess: I would generally say it's probably about 80/20, 80 being the interviewee. You shouldn't need to talk more than about 20% of the time if you've got really good questions. If you're asking the best questions, then that should always get better answers. I'd say probably about 80/20. The 20 is the questions. At the end of the interview or later in the interview, which I'm sure we'll talk about, is then give them some information about the business. This is quite a common mistake that I see. Leaders start an interview, and they give all the information about the business and what they're looking for. It's almost like I'm giving you the answers to tailor your questions. You come in and I'm like, all right, Brendan, what we're looking for is someone who's bubbly, who can have some fun, but can work autonomously and loves the pressure of a deadline. What am I going to hear from you? Brendan: Jess, I'm super bubbly. I work autonomously all the time. I'm also a great team player as well when I need to be. Jess: Right. We don't want to give them the answers to tailor their responses. A really simple tip that quite often leaders fall down is they give it all up front. Play your cards close to your chest a little bit. Yes, give them that information, but at the end, once you've gotten a feel for them, don't give it all upfront so that they can tailor their responses. Brendan: Do you think sometimes the interviewer, either leader interviewing for a position, is more nervous than the interviewee? Maybe that's why they're talking so much. Jess: Sometimes it could be. It could be either because they really liked this person, they're desperate, and they were the only good candidate. It could also be sometimes discomforting. I always talk about, ask the question and then zip it. We framed it, and we've said, take your time with the answers, particularly with the behavioral-based ones because you're asking them to think of a time when something happens. Things might not always pop to their head straight away. If anything, you want them to think about it so that you're going to get a more considered response. If you ask a question, Brendan, tell me about a time you had to receive really tough feedback at work, and then I give you two seconds. Because I'm uncomfortable with the silence, I'll start talking again, but I'm not getting the answer that I want. It's like, ask the question and then stop talking. I definitely think if a leader is a little bit nervous, they'll end up feeling those silences and not come away with the information that they need to make a really informed decision. Brendan: Another great point. As far as the questions go, once they know what they're looking for and they can establish some really good open-ended questions to start to unpack this, do you suggest they have some standard framing of the questions, or just have that one or two at the start, which will then lead into a conversation? What do you think works best in your experience? Or maybe there's a time and a place for each? Jess: I think there's definitely a time and a place for each. I think they’ll watch out from being so prepared and compressed with questions. I've only got an hour, and I've got these 27 questions that I want to ask. You're going to ask it and then move straight on to the next question. Sometimes it's like a good podcast interview. If someone says something, you want to go, oh, that's interesting, tell me more about that. If you're too constricted and too trying to follow the interview guide, know that this question comes next. I want to ask about that later, but don't talk about that now. Does it mean that you're not going to get that free flowing conversation that you want? Maybe you're going to get more information because someone is a little bit more comfortable. Yes, have the questions. I definitely am not suggesting to go in and wing it. Have key questions that align to the key behavioral things that you're looking for, and then listen. The more you listen, the more you will be able to ask really good questions. We call it drilling down. You go from something broad, and you ask questions to get a little bit more narrow. If you're not listening, and you're not really dialed into what this person is saying, you're going to miss those opportunities to drill down. Potentially, that means you're going to miss nuggets, either positive or negative. Brendan: It's a real skill, isn't it? The ability to question and then listen really intensely, deeply to then go to the next level in that conversation. Do you have any specific tips or strategies you help leaders or suggest to leaders to say, hey, here's something you can focus on that's going to help your ability to question and listen? Jess: I think the first one is to be really clear on what you're looking for, because then you can be listening out for it. In that example, did I hear Brendan tell me about receiving tough feedback or making a big mistake and being able to accept it? Did I really hear a demonstration of him being a team player? I think knowing what you're looking for means that you can listen out for it. I think as well, in any good conversation, it's about active listening. It's listening to hear rather than listening to respond. The simplest example of that is, if you've ever been introduced to someone, you hear their name, and for the life of you, two seconds later, you couldn't say their name again if someone had a gun to your head. It's because you were listening to respond. You were too busy thinking about what you wanted to say next, whether it was your name, because you wanted to make a good impression, or whatever it was. It's about actually stopping to hear, and then choosing to respond based on what you've heard. The biggest tip would be to listen with curiosity rather than judgment. Because when we're curious, when we're more open-minded, we'll hear those little things that go, that's really interesting, tell me more about that. Brendan: You talked about environment earlier, which is super important. Let's say you're a business owner of a cafe, and I think McDonald's is a good example, I suppose, because I don't know how many times we've been in McDonald's over the years with our kids. You can notice but tell there's an interview happening over there, and is it the best invite. I guess what I'm asking is, is the environment appropriate like that, even though they're in that situation to give the candidate that level of privacy, respect, and the ability to just be open with their answering? What would you say? What's been your experience around that? Jess: I think the answer is it depends. If you're hiring a 16-year-old for their first job as a cashier at Macca's, you wouldn't take them to the corporate head office to do an interview there. Same as if you're hiring for head of finance, you wouldn't take them into the Macca's store and do it there. I think it's dependent on what is the role. I think as well, it's like, are the distractions that are around going to detract from the conversation that you can have? If you're a cafe owner, and you know every customer—in my opinion, you should if you're a cafe owner—probably doing it at a table even if it's in the corner, it's not going to be the best place to do it, whether or not it's because of the conversation that's happening with that candidate. If you're going to be distracted, you're going to be looking at what's going on, you're going to be waving to your regulars, and there's a potential that someone's going to come over to interrupt you, you're going to key your team, say something, and think, ah, that wasn't right, we're not getting that order, then you're not going to be at your best. I think there's no right or wrong. It depends. What's going to be a comfortable, safe environment for the interviewee to show up at their best, but also what's going to be most conducive to a really good conversation? Brendan: How much waiting do you put on first impressions, both for the interviewer and the interviewee during that conversation or that starting point? Jess: I think, regardless of how much waiting we tell ourselves to put on it, I think human nature is we make split-second decisions about people. This is where unconscious bias starts to come in as well. It's easy for me to say, don't let a first impression ruin your judgment of this person, they might be nervous, or they might be this, that, or the other. In reality, it's just how our brains work. This person might walk in, and they instantly remind you of an ex, or they instantly remind you of someone that bullied you at work, or they remind you of someone that you just find a little bit annoying. Whether you like it or not, that's going to influence the way that you're going to be seeing them. With unconscious bias, the more aware of these things we are, the better. If we go in and say to ourselves, oh, no, I'm going to make a snap decision about this person on face value, but I'm going to listen for things that either confirm or deny that, because it might be in an instant snap decision that I really like this person. Confirmation bias means that I'm now going to be listening for things that I liked about this person and saying the other way. Something about this person just rubs me the wrong way. In their answers, that's what I'm going to be looking for. I think it's something to keep in mind, but I also think that it's part of our wiring. This is why if we're aware of that, we can then counter it. Sometimes that's why it's really good to have multiple people in an interview because they might see different things. You'll go, oh, it really bothered me when Jess did this. Then the other person goes, oh, I didn't even notice that that was a thing. Then it might make you go, huh, maybe I was being a little bit petty about it, or maybe it wasn't that big of a deal. I think having those opinions, you can then be able to talk about it and bounce off each other. Brendan: Once again, a great perspective. Personally, apart from what you've just said, I honestly think having a couple of people in an interview, particularly if you're in a professional services environment, you might be in a closed room and those sorts of things, just to make sure from a safety aspect for everyone that there's another person in the room that's an innocent bystander so to speak, so they can collaborate if anything untoward, or if somebody took something untoward out of there and made up some story. I think there is a safety aspect to it. What do you think around that? Jess: Definitely. There's never a downside of having an extra set of eyes and an extra set of ears. To go back to what we were talking about before, if you're the type of leader, and you can really honestly hand on heart say, I'm probably not the best to listener, that's even more reason to get someone else in. Maybe the way that you do it is you ask the questions, and the other person takes notes. It's not to say that they can't do it, you might pull someone in who has a really different personality to your really different communication style because they're absolutely going to be picking up on different things to use. I think yes, 100% from a safety perspective and to cover your back so that someone doesn't come out and claim unfair bias, or you asked me about this, and that means you made a judgment that this, and now I'm claiming unfair practice. Yes, absolutely, but also just different opinions, different communication styles, you're going to hear different things. It also can help with that unconscious bias. The reason I keep going back to this is unconscious bias and interviewing is huge. It happens from the moment that we are reading CVs often before that. The person who was in this role before was a 25-year-old male, and he was good for the role because of XYZ. Instantly in your head, you're envisioning that this person who's going to be in this role is around the same age, maybe a guy as well, maybe a similar background. They came from a tech background, and they were good at this job because they had all of this tech experience. Instantly in your head, that's what you're going to be looking for. To bring other people in can really help balance out any unconscious biases that you might have going into the interview process, as well as in the actual interview. Brendan: If you had to make a recommendation about the other person that came in—you've already not alluded to directly mentioned really around the strengths, leveraging each other's strengths and have a little bit of self-awareness, which is hugely important—would you suggest though that the other person is from the team that the person may be coming into or even outside of that team? If you had to choose one, what do you think would work best in your experience? Jess: It's hard because I think in so many cases it really depends. Brendan: I was trying to take you away from ‘it depends’ because I know what you'll say. I agree, it depends. Jess: Let's assume you've got good people to choose in either, good people to choose external to the team, good people to choose within the team. I think I would lean more towards within the team. Particularly if you as a leader, you're not involved in the day to day, I think I'd say someone from within the team because they're going to have more of an instinct of what it feels like to be on that team day to day, maybe whether this person is going to be a fit, and what it would feel like for that person to be in on it. It might also mean that they're listening for different things in the responses. I think if I had to choose, I would say within the team, so long as you're choosing someone from within the team who has good self-awareness, that they do live the organizational values, and that they do uphold the culture, then yeah, I'd probably say from within the team, if you had to choose. Brendan: All right, let's wrap up this section with a nice little bow, Jess. Similar to the pre interview side, if you had to pick three things to give leader advice for the actual interview process part, what three things would you suggest to them? Jess: Choose your mood going in. Be really aware of how you're going to show up because you're unsure just as much as them. I think the second one is just play your cards close to your chest. Don't give them all of the information. Let them stand on their own two feet to do that. I think the third one is just to have really good questions and listen to their responses. Give yourself the freedom to ask for more once you've heard that. If you hear something that's of interest, give yourself the freedom to be able to ask for it. Don't have such a packed interview that you don't have the availability to be able to ask questions based on what you've heard. Brendan: Before we move to the post interview, is there ever a time where it's good practice for the leader to offer the person the job at the end of the interview? Jess: I never say never. I guess you're missing out on due diligence. If you do that, you're missing out on bouncing it off someone else. You're missing the opportunity to go and do reference checks. Maybe it's pending reference checks, but even then. I never say never. Again, I go back to play your cards close to your chest. Even if you really want them, you don't need to know that. You don't have to do it on the spot. That's where I'd lean. Brendan: It makes sense. Let's go post interview then. We've had a great interview, really effective, determined that the candidate is a great fit potentially or not a good fit. What's the next step? Jess: There are different routes that you can go down. I guess depending on the seniority of the role and how involved they are going to be with other stakeholders is that sometimes a second interview is a really good choice to do. Some people choose to do some psychometric testing in between the two, and then using some of what's been found there to form the basis of what's spoken about in the second interview. I think, as a general statement, I'd say first round interviews. You've got an interview guide. You're probably going to be asking all of your candidates the same behavioral-based questions. You're going to have different conversations because again, we're making sure that we're listening and asking appropriate questions. But pretty much, you've got your interview guide, you've got your questions that you're going to ask. I'd say for the second interview, it's a lot more tailored. Maybe it's based on perceived gaps that you might see in this person, not that we're not going to write you off, but here's what we're picking up on, what are we going to do about them, or maybe it's the psychometric testing. Also just for the second round, it's an opportunity to bring other people in, particularly if you haven't done so for the first rounds. Or maybe you chose to bring someone external to the team in from maybe the leadership team. Maybe this time, you'll bring in some people from the team. They'll be able to ask different questions that are really around, this is what it feels like to be on the team, and then you can ask questions about that. Potentially, a second interview is a way to go. Potentially, psychometric testing is the way to go. Of course, like I said before, due diligence of doing reference checks. I think the other thing that I'd add as well is, to go back to what I was mentioning about unconscious bias, is some of the conversations that should be happening post interview, even if you really like them is, okay, here's what we believe about this person, and here's what we heard that reinforced that. What are some things that we can look for that counter that? That can help stamp out confirmation bias as well, so having those types of conversations. Again, we said, we don't want a warm body. This is an opportunity to hire a really good person. Let's make sure that we're doing everything to make sure that who we end up with is the right one. I guess a caveat I'd give there, you can do everything right. You can do everything absolutely to the team, and it's still not the right fit. That happens. I've worked with organizations where we've done psychometric testing, I've done the second round interview, and then I've gone back and made the recommendation. Yes, I think you should hire them. They were like, great, we really liked this person. Then it didn't work, and it didn't work really quickly. I was like, did I miss something here? How did this happen? I think even when everything goes right, something can still go wrong at the end of it. What we want is to significantly reduce the chance of that happening and control everything within our power to control. Brendan: On that point, how important is it that leaders' organizations document their recruitment process, this whole interview process? Jess: It's so important. It cannot be understated. Again, like you were talking about that safety side of it, even if it's just as a precaution to avoid someone coming back and going, you discriminated against me because of race, age, gender, you think I'm going to start a family, whatever it is, I think having everything documented just covers your butt. Hopefully, you never need it. The thing is, you should be taking notes in the interview process anyway, but it's not like a whole lot of extra work needs to be done to just have that document, but it can make a real big difference if it does go down that route. I think as well, the other side of it is, we hired someone, wasn't the right fit, let's go back and ask, did we miss something? What was it about this person that we liked? Maybe we weren't asking the right questions because this happens, and we didn't ask for that. I think just even to go back and be able to learn from it as well is documentation is really important. Brendan: What waiting do you put on this scientific term gut feel? There are people out there, there are leaders out there that feel like and maybe they do have a really good intuition around people. What would you say to them about this gut feel? They might have interviewed well, but I've just got a good gut feel. Jess: I'm really big on trusting your gut and listening to your instincts. What I would say is, what can you logically say that backs up that gut feeling? Because otherwise, you're relying on the gut feeling. Quite often, that can come from biases that we've got. Affinity bias, I like you because you like me. Maybe we went to the same school. Maybe I just like you, I just have this good feeling. Okay, what can I say from the answers that you gave me that back up that warm, fuzzy feeling that I'm getting? I think the other side of it is sometimes we have a gut feeling of I don't know, this person gave all the right answers, and there's something about them that just doesn't feel right. If anything, I would trust those gut instincts more than I have an instinct that we should hire them. I almost feel more waiting on the gut instinct that tells you not to hire them. That would be the one that I would listen to probably more. Brendan: It's a great perspective. I would add to that. Again, feel free to give your thoughts. If there's anything like that, I encourage have another interview. Bring them in. Even if it's a phone conversation, say, you know what, I really like XYZ, there's just this one thing that I've had some concerns about. Can you shed some light on that for me? Just putting it out there, calling out the elephant in the room, so to speak. Jess: I absolutely agree. Something else that can come along with that is in your reference checks, you can be asking questions around that to either confirm that or potentially poke holes in that gut feeling. Yeah, absolutely a second interview. You've got nothing to lose from doing that. What does it take an hour of your time? You've got nothing to lose, and then definitely, the reference checks. If you've got something nagging, ask them. Brendan: Great advice. If something's nagging you, just ask the question. How important is it to link the reference check process questioning to the interview? Again, any potential supporting or concerns that you want to dig into? Jess: I think it's really important. We talked about those behavioral-based questions and being really clear on what you're looking for behaviorally. Yes, you want to ask questions on the technical side in that reference check. This is the role. Do you think that they would be good for the role, and why? This is our culture. These are the things that are really important to us. These are the behaviors you're looking for. Do you think they fit in? Can you give me an example of when blah-blah-blah? You can be asking them the same behavioral-based questions to get that confirmation of what they're telling me in the interview is what someone else can back up in the reference check. I won't forgive myself if I don't say this. One of the most important questions for the reference check is given the opportunity, would you hire them again? I've heard some interesting responses to that. I once had someone who said, absolutely, and I'm really jealous that you're getting to take them on, and you'd be a fool to not hire them. Then I've asked the question, and I've heard, yeah, that's so telling as well. Simple question but really, really powerful. Brendan: There are certainly a number of pros that you mentioned around reference checking. What are some of the cons that leaders need to be conscious of? Jess: Generally, you're going to put someone down that you think is going to give you a good reference. There's nothing that you can do about that. In saying that, though, actually I have had someone that I used to manage, say, can I put you down as a reference? I said, yes. But I'm going to be really honest about the areas that you need to work on by all means, but I'm going to be really honest. I never got a call for it, which I wasn't expecting to. Generally, a con would be they're going to give you people who are hopefully going to say good things about them from what they think. But again, it's due diligence. You shouldn't not do your calls because you just think they're going to say good things about them. Because again, if you're asking really good questions, you're going to get more information. Brendan: Absolutely. I'll share a really short story, Jess. I love letting leaders know to really focus in on your network and not necessarily speaking to people who the candidate has put forward. Just have an unofficial conversation. Yeah, a respectful conversation, but just to dig in. The reason I encourage that is because what happened to me many, many years ago when I was in the corporate space was, I had someone in my network who happened to be a customer, call me and asked me about a certain person. I wasn't part of their reference checks. Believe me, I was the last person that would be put as a referee. They interviewed really, really well as they would. I was very honest about the reason why this person had left the organization. Credit to this leader who made the call to me because the reference check that they've done already was absolutely glowing. Now, when I asked who gave the reference and they told me, I said, do you know that that person is that person's partner? Different names. The power of tapping into your network around reference checks, I cannot stress enough just based on that one incident. Again, quality people do not do that thing. That's basically what I said to her. Does a quality person do that? That's all you need to know. It was a great story, real story. Crazy. Jess: That's just sneaky. Did they not think they were going to be found out? Brendan: Obviously not. Jess: Company events, yeah, that's wild. Maybe this was still the case. But with a reference, it needs to be someone that they've reported to can't be a team member. It has to be someone that they've reported to. It doesn't matter if that person is still in the role. It doesn't matter if they weren't your current. It just has to be someone that they've reported to. Maybe they were reporting in to their partner, I don't know. But again, this is why two to three reference checks. I think if you can tap into the network, why not? The thing is, with LinkedIn these days and with social media, it's not like it's impossible to go. You can go on with a couple of clicks if you want to and reach out to someone. Brendan: Spot on. It's just about leaders thinking around those and using some of those tools, being aware of what's out there. Post interview. Again, you've offered some fantastic tips. If you were to give a leader advice around, hey, if you did nothing else, but just focus on these three things post interview or interviews, what would that be? Jess: Reference check at the conversations with other people. Again, hopefully those people were in on those interviews, but just have conversations. Almost try to pick apart. I like this person because of these reasons. What have I learned about them that maybe is against that? That can help stamp out some of that unconscious bias, so reference check that. I think just if in doubt, you've got nothing to lose by doing another interview. Brendan: Once again, great advice. As we said before just for our listeners and watchers, again, this is not a complete guide to the interview process, but you have shared some fantastic tips. We've just tried to sum up those top three in your experience. Is there anything else you would like to say before I ask you about your own confident leader journey around this interview process that you just want to instill in leaders to help them understand the importance of this and how they can continue to improve at it? Jess: I just think my biggest things will be the mentality going in. See every interview or recruitment as an opportunity. Just know what you're looking for. I think they might do things that if you took nothing else, probably those two things, I think, could have the biggest impact. Really, there's no effort that has to go into that. Brendan: Sounds fantastic. Jess, what has had the greatest impact on your own leadership journey to make you this confident leader that we see today? Jess: I think my what is a who. Her name is Nick. She's one of the most brilliant human beings I've ever met. My background is actually in the fitness industry. I'm a personal trainer by trade. I was working as a PT, moved up into PT management. I was managing a couple of trainers across a couple of gyms. For various reasons, I decided it was my time to go. When I reflected on what I really liked about the work I was doing, it was coaching and mentoring my team. It was feeling like I had this really big reach. Instead of training 10 clients, I was impacting eight trainers who were all impacting 10 clients. I was helping really young trainers. It was the team meetings, the coaching, and the mentoring. It went great. I want to get into coaching. I didn't even really know what that meant. I had no qualifications or anything. I went to this expo, and I met Nick. We just started talking. When I think back now, it almost felt a little bit, it was just a chat, but she was almost asking me some interview questions. Just the way it happened is we just got chatting, and at the end of it, she was like, I think I have a job for you. I looked her up, and she did exactly what I realized that I wanted to get into. Nick just took me under her wing. She had confidence in me when I didn't have confidence in me. I appreciate your saying that I've got this confidence. I think I owe a lot of that to Nick. Yes, I think I had potential within me, but Nick saw an opportunity. Nick invested in me. She pushed me, she challenged me, and she really was able to get the best out of me. She pulled me out of my comfort zone. She still continues to do that to this day. I think that's what's had the biggest impact on me. Sometimes to this day, I'll ask her a question. She's like, Jess, you know the answer I'm going to give you here. That's probably the biggest impact for me. Brendan: Such a great leadership story, and so many great aspects of leadership in that story. Fantastic. The power of mentors isn't really to have those people that have your back and are more confident. I love what you said that she had the confidence in you when you didn't. That's such a powerful statement. Jess: Absolutely. Brendan: Great story. Thank you for sharing that, Jess. Jess, I really appreciate this conversation. You do hold the unfortunate record of this is the fourth or fifth time we tried to get this conversation going. A couple of times, you had some problems. I had some problems as well. But together, we've done this. Personally, it's been hugely valuable. I enjoyed the conversation. I know our listeners and watchers will certainly enjoy the conversation and take out these key nuggets just to help them on their own leadership journey and helping them to become more confident leaders. Thanks very much for coming on The Culture of Leadership podcast and being a fantastic guest. I appreciate you. Jess: Thanks so much for having me, Brendan. It was a great conversation. Nice to finally be able to make this happen. Brendan: It's a pleasure. Will you make changes to your interview process to make it more effective? You're now armed with expert insights and strategies that you can put into practice. Take action and level up your interview process. If you embrace the power of effective interviews, your leadership impact will reach new heights. These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Jess. My first key takeaway, confident leaders prioritize a solid interview process. The interview process is not to be taken lightly. It's an opportunity to shape the future of the team and the organization. By treating the process with respect, leaders can ensure they attract the right candidates, make informed decisions, and reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person. My second key takeaway, confident leaders ask behavioral based questions. To truly understand the candidate's suitability for a role and cultural fit, leaders should ask behavioral-based questions. By asking candidates to reflect on real experiences, leaders can gain insights into their past behaviors, problem solving skills, and alignment with organizational values. My third key takeaway, confident leaders trust their instincts while seeking validation. Gut feel can play a role in decision making, but it's crucial to back them up with logical evidence. Leaders should listen to their instincts. If doubts persists, conduct further interviews, reference checks, and have conversations with other team members to validate their judgments. In summary, my three key takeaways were, confident leaders prioritize a solid interview process, confident leaders ask behavioral-based questions, and confident leaders trust their instincts while seeking validation. What was your key takeaway from the episode? You can let me know at thecultureofleadership.com or on YouTube. Thanks for joining me, and remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation. Thanks for listening to The Culture of Leadership. You can access the show notes at thecultureofleadership.com. If you enjoy the show, please follow, rate, and give a review on your favorite podcast platform.

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