Need to Interview a Potential New Hire? Be Prepared!

Posted on October 30, 2013.

Netflix asks some pretty intense questions when they hire. But I would bet they end up with top talent. Not every company needs to ask,  “How do you know if one algorithm is better than another?” But at a high level, the Netflix questions do represent what every company should make sure that they include in the interview process.

Too often companies let their hiring managers wing it. Other than ensuring they know what questions are illegal, they let them ask whatever they want. The problem with that approach is that there’s no consistency between people interviewing the same candidate and too often the hiring manager comes away with just a “gut feeling” and no concrete evidence of the candidate’s abilities.

To avoid those problems, first start with creating a questionnaire template that is used for each different position in the company.  This avoids any inconsistencies between interviewers.  Then, much like Netflix has done, make sure you include the following:

·      A question that elicits knowledge about the company and its culture. Don’t overcomplicate it. Just ask them to describe what you do and what makes your culture unique. 

·      A situational question.  Try to re-create a problem or challenge that your department or unit actually faces every day.  It doesn’t need to be long and drawn out, but if you want them to answer customer complaints, throw one at them and see how they respond.

·      A question that requires them to develop their own on boarding plan.  Hopefully, your company has its own formal on boarding process. But it’s often telling to ask someone what he or she plans to accomplish in their first 90 days on the job.  Finding the best lunch places should not be their first answer.

·      A question that demonstrates their skills and talents. Unlike the situational question that may be unique to your company, this question should center on their past accomplishments. It’s easy to take one of their resume bullets and ask them exactly how they demonstrated “leadership, teamwork, etc.  when completing that task.  If they led a project, ask how they brought the team together.

·      A question that demonstrates their technical knowledge.  Depending on the position, this may be an actual test that requires them to solve a problem related to their expertise. If they possess the knowledge they say they have, it should be a no-brainer.

·      A question about motivation.  This one may be a bit more vague, but trying to determine someone’s motivation will help you determine if the person is a good fit for both the culture of the organization and the job itself.

The Netflix questions possess all of these elements. Keeping your interview questions focused and consistent should result in hiring the very best candidate for the job. So stop winging it and start preparing for your next interview.