How to filter the best candidates in a telephonic job interview in 20 Minutes…

Being an entrepreneur I know how critical it is to get the right candidates, but at the same time, it’s impossible to spend a lot of time interviewing and screening each candidate. Hence I started researching how to screen the best candidates in the fastest way possible.

Here are a few learnings which I started using and gave surprisingly good results the best part it requires much lesser time for screening the “A candidates” from “B & C candidates”. (Some points are taken from book WHO – The A Method for Hiring)

Target: The initial screening interview should be short, phone-based, designed to select the best-suited candidates for our requirement.

Lets first start with the “DO NOTs”

Never start the interview by telling about yourself, company, or JD (Job description).

Unless you already know the candidate is the right fit, why waste time on this?. If she is the right candidate she would have already gone thru JD and website/company etc details.

Also, I have seen once you elaborate on the JD and your expectations, the candidate revolves around it and sometimes says those exact words. Kind of killing the whole process at the start.

You will get plenty of time to sell yourself & company later once you figure she is the right fit.

Don’t ask “Tell me about yourself and your profile?”

This is an over abused question and a waste of time, the candidate is so used to this question that it never touches any new information different from CV/Resume. Moreover, once it starts it’s difficult to control the candidate not to elaborate unnecessary details wasting further time.

Now let’s start with the screening questions:

#First Question: What are your career goals, or in the next 3-4 years what you see yourself doing?

The question gives a good opening dialog for the candidate, there is also a bit of surprise element to this question. It allows her to elaborate on her dream and what she wants to do in the future.

What to expect:

Notice whether her goals are matching your requirements. For example, if she is looking as a managerial position and your requirement is more of an individual contributor role, there is a red flag.

Secondly, if she lacks a goal or is saying a copy of the job description she got from the consultant or website, screen the person out. Talented people know what they want and shouldn’t be afraid to tell us.

Lastly, this question should reflect passion and energy in the candidate, after all, it’s her career goal(s) she is talking about. If it’s dull and monotonous, I would screen out the candidate.

#Second Question: What are you really good at professionally?

The question allows the candidate to further elaborate with plenty of points to talk about. Try to get as many traits (At least 5, the more the better) with real examples in some cases, it should give us a clear picture of her strengths.

What to expect:

If there are some key strengths that do not match the job requirement, again a red flag.

For example, if she keeps coming to front-end technologies and you already have a strong person in that technology it does not makes sense to continue unless you are specifically looking at expertise in that area.

Also, look at the passion, this is her area she should ace and should come out to be impressive.

#Third Question: What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally?

This gives the other side of the equation about her, directly asking whats your weakness leads to a canned and self-serving answer like “I am impatient for results” or “I work too hard” not providing any productive details.

What to expect:

Again try to identify 3-4 areas that she is not interested or good at, if required put fear of reference check into the person. Saying what will be the reaction of your manager if we ask this to her? but ensure its in a soft tone so that it doesn’t disrupt the candidate.

#Fourth Question: What is the one single product/project you would say as your best and why?

This tells us what excites her, motivates her at work. Is it a technology solution, which is exciting, or design or architecture, etc, there is no right or wrong answer for this. Also, why part tells you where she likes to pat her back and tries to excel.

What to expect:

If the product/project was done long back, let’s say 3-4 years earlier, this implies there are not many exciting things she has done in the past 3 years, which is a red flag.

The reason for success and recognition should somewhere match the strengths we are looking for. Also, the reason for the best project shouldn’t digress a lot from your job requirement.

For example, if she says her best project was delivering high performing interface for email marketing and getting good results, but you are looking at SEO digital marketing profiles. There is a mismatch, this not exactly counts to reject but gives you an alarm to grill more on the SEO side.

#Fifth Question: What is the one single product/project you would say was your worst and why?

Again this gives the other side of the balance sheet, why part is most critical.

What to expect:

Failure is an important part to understand the candidate’s approach to a problem. Did she learn from it? What happened to similar future projects and how she came back from this.

It’s important that this also be a recent project, not 3-4 years old because failure is critical for growth, and unless she is recently out of her comfort zone learning would have not been possible. A person’s resilience towards failure is an important part of learning. A really talented person will learn from failures and handle it successfully going forward.

This ends our initial screening process.

All the above questions will give you pretty good insights about the candidate. Moreover, the candidate would have gone thru a really exciting interview.

Somewhere in the middle if you don’t like what you are hearing, simply collapse the call by accelerating your questions. It can be finished in much lesser time if the initial response is not positive. On the other hand, if you hear a strong potential match to your requirement, you can continue spending more time or ask to schedule more time later.

Remember for A candidates you can give more time and for B/C candidates cut short things, you own the process. But if there are doubts, skip and go for the next candidate, we all know how much worse it becomes when we hire a mediocre.

As Working Parents, Carve Out Some Time for Hobbies…

As working parents, we know that it’s important to take time for ourselves. But what does that actually look like in practice?

One option is committing to a hobby. It can help us relax and recharge, hone new skills, become a better problem-solver, and connect with our kids better. But to reap these benefits, we have to be diligent about carving out regular time in our busy schedule. Whatever is our interest areas — arts and crafts, exercising, or reading.

Most importantly let’s set aside regular time for it, at least one consistent hour each week to delve into them. Consider organizing a book club or a musical group, or joining an exercise class that we look forward to. Invite friends to join if possible. (These activities can be held virtually in case of social distancing right now.)

Once the schedule is set, let’s ensure to communicate the time commitment to our family, so everyone can respect it when it comes around each week. It’s our self-time, and it’s important to be vocal about what it means for us.

Tips to Reduce Screen Time While You’re WFH…

It’s exhausting to look at a screen all day. And yet, if we’re working remotely, it may feel unavoidable. To maintain our energy throughout the workday, let’s try to proactively disconnect from screens whenever you can.

Here are a few tips that can help:

Avoid Video calls if possible – Remember that video calls aren’t necessary for every meeting: Let’s try a regular phone call every once in a while to mix things up. Also, choose physical over digital whenever possible.

Use Pen/Paper if possible – Brainstorming ideas for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper or post-it notes. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a whiteboard or butcher paper instead of typing in a laptop.

Move around as much as possible, even if it’s just standing up and rolling your shoulders or grabbing a glass of water between meetings, take frequent breaks.

Take tech-free breaks over lunch, tea time, and find activities that don’t involve a screen to wind down.

Taking these steps will help us reduce our digital fatigue and feel more energized at the end of each day.

Being Compassionate…

handshake of the generations

It’s natural to believe that everyone else is as confident, assured, and generous as you are on your very best day.

But that’s unlikely. Because everyone else is probably not having their best day at the same time.

Once we realize that the world around us is filled with people who are each wrestling with what we’re wrestling with (and more), compassion is a lot easier to find.

Joy of Learning…

We all know that thrilling feeling of learning something new — a new recipe, a new word in a foreign language, a new chord on the guitar. And yet, so many of us go through our workdays on autopilot without setting aside time to learn something new.

How can we introduce the joy of learning into our professional life?

Let’s start by taking control of what we read to better ourselves and our careers. Pay attention to what genuinely interests us, rather than relying on a website’s algorithm for recommendations or just going thru the flow.

Let’s also keep an open mind about what “counts” as learning — we can find unexpected opportunities in movies, conversations with friends, speeches, or social media feeds.

Finally, we can keep a list of what we’ve learned lately, how we’ve used that new knowledge, and what we hope to learn in the future. We can stay focused and motivated by tracking progress and setting new goals.

Taking the above steps will help us take both professional & personal learning and development into our own hands — and have some fun with it.