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Top performers test the waters

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Eight Critical Questions    

Knowing the answers to these eight questions, will save you a lot of heartache if you have a serious contender for your top job or if you have someone testing if “the grass is greener on the other side”.  These can be used in a pre-interview situation or be repeated within the first interview to gauge the reaction of the applicant. 

  1. What type of commute are you accustomed to?
  2. What are your current circumstances which have made you consider a new position?
  3. What are the reasons you’ve left position x, y and z?
  4. When did you start your search?
  5. At what interviewing stage are you at with other job opportunities?
  6. Have you received any job offers? Many applicants indicate they have job offers when they only have interviewed or applied to positions online.
  7. Have you ever accepted a position in good faith and found that when you turned in your resignation, your company made you a counter-offer?
  8. Follow-up questions for a Yes answer: How lucrative was the offer? How did you handle it with the company who had just hired you? In the long-run, were you happy you made that decision?

 If question 1 is asked of an applicant,  who “needs a job”, if a commute of 25 miles to work daily will work for them, the answer will usually be YES!  “That’s no problem!”  A question framed to be answered either yes or no, does not give you information that reflects past behavior.    When the employee quits at 6 months, the exit interviewer will ask the reason for leaving. The answer most likely will be…”the drive is too long”. Could that turnover have been avoided?

Asking about the applicant’s current and past reasons for leaving a position can reveal a number of characteristics about the applicant.  Remember, we routinely may ask this question hundreds of times, yet to the applicant this is very personal.  Be sure to ask and then listen, without interrupting.  Encouraging others by nodding or repeating phrases can help those struggling to collect their thoughts or encourage a more complete response.

 Their answer will be an immediate indicator of how well they organize and communicate thoughts regarding their personal decisions, values, and beliefs about their past performance, business relationships and company culture.  Your position may require good communication skills and presentation, so you’ve had your first glimpse at their skill level.

 Have you ever called your favorite candidate back for a second interview only to find out they just accepted another position?  Put some boundaries around your expectations before you become too hopeful about any one candidate.  By knowing up front how long they’ve searched and if they have any real or potential job offers, you can manage your interviewing schedule and expectations more effectively…and save yourself from a broken heart when you’ve fallen in love with that top candidate that was only “testing the waters.”

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