A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you


Four Questions

A lot of attention has been given lately to the recruitment and selection process and ensuring a good fit for the organization.  Indeed, if this process breaks down, you’ll have an employee churn problem and who wants that?


Recruitment is all about determining where, when and how you’re going to fish for qualified applicants.





Selection is about determining if applicants meet your qualifications and, if so, how they are going to “fit” into your organization.



I’m always interested in learning about organization’s selection activities, but I’m saddened when I learn that hiring managers often limit their chances of success when they fail to get creative or intentional in the interview process.


I have never been a huge advocate of “time in grade” questions; I don’t believe time spent doing something is a reflection of how well the person did it.  Many who share this belief resort to competency based interviews.  However, if you’re not a skilled interviewer and if your questions aren’t intentionally created to solicit specific competencies, these interviews can fall short as well.  That being said, I do a thorough job analysis to identify what specific competencies, both technical and behavioral, are needed for ultimate success in position and develop my questions accordingly.


But I don’t stop there!  If my ultimate goal is to find someone who can be an extension of me, who can represent my organization well, who can maintain, if not improve, my organization’s reputation with the community, I turn it up a notch and dig a little deeper!


The following questions help me get the insight I need.


“When it comes to your professional life, what are you passionate about?”

This question helps me understand what the individual is working towards, what drives/motivates him, what he would strive for and/or not compromise, etc.  The answer also helps me better understand the individuals’ interests and how he may/may not align with that of my company.  The individual’s answer may reveal there is no passion behind his work; this may/may not be a bad thing but gives me valuable insight either way!


“When it comes to your professional life, what accomplishment are you most proud of?”

The answer to this question tells me to what type of standards the individual holds herself.  The answer may also reveal whether or not she is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, which would be very helpful to know should she be hired.  The answer may give me some insight into how difficult the employee’s past positions were and/or how shiny she had to be in order to stand out as special.



“If you could change any past decision or action you have taken in your professional life, what would it be and why?”

The answer to this question gives me tons of information about the person, both in the way he answers it and in the story itself.  I look for sincerity, humbleness and self-reflection but I also dig deeper into the answer so I can ascertain his critical and logical thinking skills, determination and willingness to change, ability to learn from one’s mistakes, objectivity, etc.


“If you you ran this business, what would you look for when building your team and why?”

This question doesn’t always get me what I need…but when it does, it SINGS and therefore, I keep it in my arsenal.

The answer to this question highlights whether or not the individual understands my vision and the culture I am trying to create.  It demonstrates whether or not she has paid attention to me over the “courting” process.  It highlights if she is a creative thinker and if it’s probable she will bring some new and innovative ideas to my business.  It gives me insight on whether or not she is a “yes sir” type of employee or if she is willing to step out and give valuable feedback, whether it’s negative or positive.


Whether you are a recruiter or supervisor, small business owner or CEO, I’m sure you want your employees to be a good match for your company, to be well aligned with your vision and mission, to fit well within your culture, etc.  I’m willing to bet you want your employees to take your business as seriously as you do and you want them to have a high probability of improving upon it!


Your interview process should have a good balance of technical and behavioral competencies and, in my opinion, should dig a bit more into how the applicant thinks…as this is the only way you’ll figure out if they are a good fit!


The questions I share above are the ones I use to get there.  However, don’t limit yourself to my perspective – take the ideas offered here and run with them!


Good luck!
Employee EngagementEmploymentHuman ResourcesInterviewingSelectionSelection Process

Heather Kinzie • September 16, 2012

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  1. Ben Eubanks September 17, 2012 - 11:55 am Reply

    Great stuff!

    (I’m stealing these for my own use!)

    Not that we have a lot of crossover in the candidate pool between Alaska and Alabama. 🙂

    • Heather Kinzie September 17, 2012 - 8:46 pm Reply

      Ben, you’d be surprised…I was up on the North Slope last week and some of my favorite students were from Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia! It’s a long commute but many, many do it! 🙂 I hope you are well – thanks for stopping by and steal, steal, steal away!

  2. Dave Perry September 27, 2012 - 3:32 pm Reply

    I didn’t know you had a tattoo.

    • Heather Kinzie September 27, 2012 - 4:41 pm Reply

      Dave, you crack me up. Read my post re: Freak Flag and you’ll understand the tattoo!

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