Most hiring managers and recruiters are focused on using behavioral interview questions but we also like to mix in some different types of questions to get a better sense of how candidates think on their feet, deal with adversity, and see themselves fitting into (and helping shape) the organization's future. Here are 5 of our favorites:
1. What is one misconception people have about you?
The magic lies within the brutally honest responses that follow. This question is designed for the applicant to paint you a picture of what they are not. The reality is that there seldom are any misconceptions. Other people’s perceptions of someone are usually pretty accurate as they are formed on observed behavior and actions witnessed. Furthermore, candidates are generally honest in their responses, because, after all, they are describing perceptions that they think are not true.
2. What is a development area, a deficit, or a gap that you’ve had to overcome or improve in your career? How was that identified, and what did you do to improve?
It offers a chance to learn how someone deals with self-realization, self-actualization, and potentially how they overcome obstacles or adversity.
3. When have you experienced stellar customer service, and how did that change how you deal with customers?
This question is a great way to see how candidates define “stellar customer service” — not just as they experience it, but also in the service they expect themselves to provide.
4. If you we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months its been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?
This will show how much research they put into both the company and the role they are applying for. Being able to describe what you will do for the business confidentially shows much enthusiasm.
5. What is your superpower?
This type of question is asked to see how well they think on their feet and if they can be creative. These kinds of questions are also used to see if a candidate has a good sense of humor, a very desirable trait when you have to work with someone 5 days a week.
6. Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know about you.
This question is an opportunity to learn something exciting and real about a candidate that might otherwise not come up in a standard interview.
7. Describe your favorite supervisor and your least favorite supervisor – and why.
This allows some fast insight into how the candidate likes to be communicated with and managed, as well as some revelations into overall attitude and maturity.
8. What was the best thing about your last job?
Answering this question requires candidates to assign a value to an experience they had in their last job. What they choose can tell you a lot about who they are as a person and what kind of new job is going to make them happy. It will also allow you to assess whether or not this job is likely to have any of those attributes in common. You are looking for candidates who loved something about their last job that they can also like about the new job–similar tasks and goals, overlapping client or industry base, a comparable team dynamic, etc.
9. What did you like least about your former job?
Candidates will have the chance to trash their former employers or take the high road, and which option they choose will reveal a lot about how they will approach their work at your company.
Even if a candidate is coming from the worst job in the world, a prospective hire with poise and a positive attitude will be able to answer this question productively and highlight either their understanding of complex problems within the industry or their ability to overcome challenges. Candidates without those skills will take the opportunity to throw their employer, coworkers, or customers under the bus, and you’re better off knowing that before you hire them.
10. Based on what you know about your company/department/team, what changes would you make if you were in charge?
Top performers likely have the skills, drive, and ability to help drive your business forward. They may also be able to pick up on inefficiencies, potential issues, and problems that could be holding your business back. Moreover, for someone whom you might hire for a leadership position, you need to be able to determine if he or she has the skills to identify and solve real problems.
11. What is your least favorite thing about humanity?
It’s a great way to change the pace of an interview completely and make a candidate really think.
While it is an odd question to ask in an interview, it can yield brilliant, really insightful responses. It forces a candidate to show you a little of their personality and present a reasoned response to a very valid question that sits way outside the traditional comfort zone.
12 What did you do to prepare for this meeting today?
The candidate prepared for the interview can indicate a lot not only about his or her interest in the job, but about how this person operates as a professional.
If a candidate can share only platitudes about his or her preparation for something as important as a job interview, that speaks volumes about how this person will prepare for important tasks, meetings, roles, etc. when he or she has the job.
13. Before you came in, I looked at the mission and vision from your current (or past) company. What is it in your own words?
Asking a candidate about the mission and vision from their current or most recent employer can provide a few insights into your potential candidate. First, do they even know the answer? Second, if they do, are they able to relate what the company does to that mission and vision, showing big-picture thinking?
14. You walk into your office and have 50 emails and 14 voicemails before your day has even started, all with different urgent requests. What do you do?
This way, you get to hear how they think about the problem from top to bottom.
15. What blogs and resources do you follow online to keep up with the industry?
I like to understand if they are keeping up to date with the leading resources online to know what is happening in the Senior Living Industry.
2. Ruthlessly block out distractions.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova says, "I concentrate on concentrating." For those of us who don't have the willpower to be self-accountable, there are several technology solutions for blocking out distractions. For example, Rescue Time is an application that runs in the background of your computer and measures how you spend your time so you can make better decisions. Get Concentrating is another useful tool that will help you focus on important tasks by temporarily blocking social media sites. (Are you easily distracted? If so, here are six more popular programs to block distractions.)
3. Set a strict time limit on meetings.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, is strict on the timing allotted for single-topic, non-operational meetings: He allows a maximum of one hour and 30 minutes. Fifty percent of the time is for the presentation, and 50 percent is for discussion. Gary E. McCullough, former U.S. army captain and now CEO of Career Education Corp., gives people half of the time they ask for a meeting or appointment. This forces them to be brief, clear and to the point. "By doing that, I am able to cram a number of things in the day and move people in and out more effectively and more efficiently," McCullough says. People generally don't need as much time as they ask for. Meetings are time vampires. Be ruthless in managing this endemic productivity drain so you can focus on high value tasks.
RELATED: How to Be Productive Working From the Coffee Shop
4. Set up productivity rituals.
Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, provides four tips for setting up rituals to automate behaviors that will make us more productive, without depleting our energy reservoir. One of them is prioritizing one key task to accomplish per day, and starting your day focused on that task. "Force yourself to prioritize so that you know that you will finish at least that one critical task during the period of the day when you have the most energy and the fewest distractions," Schwartz says.
5. Get up earlier.
Research shows that mornings can make or break your day. It's not uncommon for successful CEOs to start their day well before 6 a.m. In 27 Executives Who Wake Up Really Early, we see how incredibly busy people—from Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, to Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo—use their mornings to seize the day. Use the mantra "mind over mattress" to motivate yourself to get out of bed to pursue your goals. As Laura Vanderkam says in What Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide To Making Over Your Morning—And Life, while many are sleeping in, successful people are already up and getting a lot done. If this is not your preference, Vanderkam advises to start with small steps, such as getting up just 15 minutes earlier every day and gradually increasing the time.
6. Group your interruptions.
This idea comes from restaurateur Danny Meyer. He has his assistant group all questions that come up during the day in one list so she doesn't have to interrupt him repeatedly during office hours. Take a cue from this and see how you can ask others on your team to group questions, requests and other non-urgent inquiries so you're not distracted by interruptions that don't add value.
7. Outsource personal chores.
Highly productive people are selective about how they expend their energy. They don't waste it on tasks that others can do. For example, Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, uses services such as Fancy Hands, an army of virtual assistants. Others automate grocery shopping with sites such as Amazon's Subscribe and Save, or services that deliver groceries to your doorstep. Others even use services such as Plated, which delivers perfectly measured ingredients for chef designed meals at home. Do a cost/benefit analysis of how you spend your time and see if it's worth offloading some repetitive tasks so you can focus on what will bring value to your company.
8. Set up email rules to maintain sanity.
Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, founders of Birchbox, insist that team members indicate when they need a response in all emails. This simple tip helps with prioritization. Designer Mike Davidson has set up an email policy that limits any email he sends to five sentences. As he explains, many email messages in his inbox take more time for him to answer than they did for the sender to write. Analyze your email habits and institute time-saving policies that work for your particular situation.
RELATED: What Annoys You at Work Can Actually Boost Productivity
9. Capture all creative ideas.
The world renowned scientist Dr. Linus Pauling once said, "The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas." Most leaders and entrepreneurs are visionaries who generally don't lack good ideas; however, capturing all these ideas is often a challenge for busy people. Evernote is a popular, free program for collecting ideas. (Here's a list of other tools to consider.)
10. Increase your effectiveness through technology.
There's a wealth of programs to make a small-business owner more effective in increasing productivity. A few popular tools—some of which are free—include Dropbox to store files online; Any Meeting to host a webinar; Basecamp for project management; Trello for keeping track of projects and deadlines, and Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your social media postings.
11. Don't lose it:
Read it later.Don't miss out on important information because you're in a rush and have no time to read. Two programs help you scoop information to read later. Get Pocket
allows you to put articles, videos and any other information into a virtual pocket, saved directly from any site. Another worthwhile program is Instapaper, which allows you to save long Web pages to read later when you have time.
12. Learn from others.
Consider subscribing to Lifehacker's How I Work series, which asks highly successful people to share their best time-saving tips. For example, Eric Koger, founder of ModCloth, shares his nerdiest way to save time: His keyboard layout is Colemak. Learning Colemak is a one-time investment that allows for much faster typing. This site provides an abundance of advice on how super busy, successful entrepreneurs salvage time.
Read more productivity articles.
Author: Bruna Martinuzzi, founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd.,and the author of two books: Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow
Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify
Figure out what the top five most important stuff is, focus relentlessly on that and keep iterating. Less is more.
Dennis Crowley, CEO, FourSquare
Don’t let people tell you your ideas won’t work. If you have a hunch that something will work, go build it. Ignore the haters.
Sarah Prevette, Founder, Sprouter
Just do it. Get it out there, absorb the feedback, adjust accordingly, hustle like hell, persevere and never lose your swagger.
Sarah Lacy, CEO, PandoDaily
Follow your gut. it may be wrong, but you won’t regret it if you fail. You’ll regret it if you ignore your gut and fail.
Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist
Treat people like you want to be treated. Apply to customer service.
Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, VaynerMedia
Do work for your customers, not for press or VCs. The end user is what matters long term.
Matt Mullenweg, CEO, Automattic
Only reinvent the wheels you need to get rolling.
Jason Goldberg, CEO, Fab.com
Pick one thing and do that one thing — and only that one thing — better than anyone else ever could.
Alexis Ohanian, CEO, Reddit
Make something people want. Then give more damns than anyone else about it and you’ll make something they love.
Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works
Buy@ericries’s book. Beyond that? Build a platform. This is the big year.
Matt Howard, CEO, ZoomSaferStartup wisdom:
The number one job of a CEO is to not run out of money.
Brian Wong, CEO, Kiip
Always be learning from others. Whenever you meet someone, you don’t want something from them, you want to learn from them.
Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja, SCVNGR and LevelUp
Something my dad taught me: Ask forgiveness, not permission!
Hooman Radfar, Founder, Clearspring
Give away the wins, own the loses. Your job is to curate greatness.
Alexa Hirschfeld, CEO, Paperless Post
Users and employees are key predictive indicators of a company’s success; press and investors generally months behind.
Author: Peter Corbett (@corbett3000) is the CEO of the creative agency iStrategyLabs, and is the founding organizer of DC Tech Meetup.
Senior Living Recruiting is what we do.
LM Hurley & Associates Executive Recruiting