My mother brought this subject up last night because my sister has been working with a consultant to provide them with better interview/recruitment techniques. My sister owns a recruitment/placement firm for healthcare and IT professionals. Mashallah, they are doing very well, but an ongoing issue with her office staff has been recruiting the right people for their sales and recruiting staff. My sister is usually an outstanding judge of character and has often recruited some of her top sales people from positions at retail stores and other unusual sources; just because her gut has told her that they would be good producers. Most of the time she is spot-on, but once in a while, she will recruit someone and they turn out to be (not a good fit). Her business is also getting too large for her to follow up on details and her "people" needed better techniques for bringing in new office and consulting staff.
She discussed it with my mother, who found it to be a fascinating subject. And so I believe it to be also.
The only question that my mother could remember from the many that the interview consultant brought up was, "Cite a situation at work that influenced your life." These are the type of questions that allow you to understand a person's character; but also to define how the candidate may articulate/converse with others under pressure - which is exactly what my sister needs to know about her sales people.
I LOVE these kinds of interviews. They are thought-provoking and the interviews are just fun for me. I guess if you were an introvert, you might have the opposite reaction to these types of questions, but then again, if you are interviewing for a sales or management position (and not IT where you don't have to talk to/convince people) then you might not find these psychological questions terribly enjoyable.
My #1 all time favorite interview was here in Kuwait at KGLPI (Kuwait Gulf Link Ports International). I sat across the table from the Chairman, Dr. Mohammad Mazeedi, the CEO, and their HR Director. They had obviously taken interview training and I found myself bombarded by fascinating questions! (Bad memory runs in my family...) I can't remember all the questions, but they were similar to, "Tell us a situation where you had a conflict at work and how did you resolve it." "What was your most memorable learning experience at work?" "Who was your favorite boss and why?" By the end of the nearly hour-long interview, all of us were laughing. I knew I had the job, but I sent them all flowers the next day, thanking them for the greatest interview session EVAH!
KGLPI offered me the job but later rescinded it because my extremely unethical former employer - who had just terminated me to save money! - threatened to sue them for "stealing his employee". And this was after he had terminated me and I was looking for a new job! Dr. Mazeedi, who I admire tremendously, contacted me about 6 months after the incident and told me that he liked me and wanted me to know the truth of what happened. I understood their predicament completely. It was unfortunate because we would have made a great team.I would like to answer this question, "Cite a situation at work that influenced your life." I told my mother the story last night. She had never heard the story before (or maybe I told her way-back-when and she didn't remember. That's ok because I can't remember if I told her or not). Again, this question has to do with your character and your perspective. Some people might read into this as a business-related question: "The day I got Windows 8, changed my life!" Yeah.... ok.... there is no right or wrong answer. They're just asking for insight.
Swede Nelson at SAIC was a high-level, tenured manager at the division where I worked. I only had the blessing of working with Swede for about a year. He was very knowledgeable and kind. And, he had stage 4 cancer and must have been in a tremendous amount of pain. That man came to work every.single.day (although he could have chosen to be out on disability) wearing a morphine pack and ALWAYS wearing a smile. He always had something nice to say to colleagues. He was always helpful. He never let on that he hurt, or he was tired. You would never have known how sick he was. That man influenced my life. He helped form my work ethic (although seriously - if any of you know me in business, I (think I) whine about health issues quite a bit and I shouldn't. Swede taught me that anything can be accomplished through kindness, humor, and a good attitude. When he died, we all went to his funeral and service at Arlington Memorial Cemetery where he was buried with honors, befitting a man of his character.
Ok, so now that I have discussed what kind of interviews I like, let me relate which kind I hate.... I hope that I have had some influence on colleagues who use these "techniques" (or lack thereof) during interviews. "Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?" "Why are you leaving your current job?" "Have you reviewed our website?" Really? Seriously? Snore. It is not 1950. Get onto the Googly thing and research current interview questions/techniques. That's my advice to junior staff. In knowing how to interview a candidate, you then learn how you can better respond in an interview with a potential employer. It's easy.
Here is a good article on the subject: