In the early days, I definitely made my share of bad hires: The employee who stole equipment. The salesperson who never made a sale. The woman who continually fell asleep at her desk and did her personal errands including her daughter’s wedding planning while out of the office on company business.

In the beginning I hired based on likeability, “experience,” and references. Later, I discovered that very competent people often fail due to core character issues. And while a values match is critical, toxic personalities can poison your entire culture. So I’ve learned to look for both emotional intelligence and character to make the best hires.

Your success often depends on the emotional intelligence of people you hire in strategic positions. That means you need to make hiring decisions based on solid information––not just gut instinct and first impressions gained during an interview.

Those interviews require well-planned questions that solicit genuine answers which surface real opinions, character traits, and values, as well as critical skills. Consider the following questions to produce meaningful information about your potential job candidates:

 

Hiring the Best Job Candidates:
Make These 3 Interview Questions Count

 

 1. Who are 3-5 people in the public arena or your personal or social life whom you admire and why?

Responses here will reveal several things: How informed are they on local happenings, current affairs, politics, or pop culture? Does their response suggest they can’t think of anyone, or simply that they can’t narrow their choices? Are all choices from public life rather than personal or social circles? That may suggest few mentors or role models in their life. Why? If all choices are personal acquaintances, that may suggest noninvolvement in the community or activities outside the home. Why?

At least, their answers will reveal their values and their network—or lack thereof.

 

2. Tell me about a particularly bad day you’ve had this past year or two—a day when nothing was routine and almost everything went wrong. How did you deal with all the stress and calamity?

Their response gives you some perspective on what happenings they consider “routine” versus “calamity” and “particularly bad.” But what you’re really looking for is their coping mechanisms—both emotional stability and resourcefulness.

Listen carefully to the retelling for words like “so upset,” “so angry,” “had a major meltdown,” “went ballistic,” “frantic,” “just beside myself with worry.” Did they personally solve the problems or did someone else have to take charge? How much and for how long did this problem or these problems affect their work and life? How does their idea of “serious” compare with yours? Does their reaction seem appropriate or extreme? How did their judgment and solution compare to how you would have handled the situation?

How does their idea of stress compare with what happens every day at your workplace—and would their level of competence in coping be sufficient?

 

3. Tell me about a time that you failed—either at work or in your personal life. What did you learn from that experience?

If they have never failed, either they are lying or they are extremely risk-averse. Do they blame others or accept responsibility for the failure? Do they seem teachable? What does their attitude say about humility or arrogance?

 

Certainly, your interview questions have to meet the job criteria. Of course, these questions assume the job candidate must interact with people and use sound judgment. Given that’s a valid assumption, these questions, among others, can mean the difference between a great hire and a costly termination.

 

 

For additional interview questions and more thoughts on hiring and coaching top talent, get a copy  of Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. Click to download an excerpt here: http://www.communicatelikealeaderbook.com/excerpt