"Sometimes, thinking on your feet can be the most creative. Constrained circumstances can bring the best out of you. Some of the most successful shows come out of shoestring invention." -- Cameron Mackintosh
Thinking on Their Feet
In Part III of Interview Questions That Work!, we look at some good questions that can be used to determine if the candidate has the ability to respond to changes and last-minute disruptions. These questions are designed to hone in on the candidates who can think on their feet and make both effective and efficient decisions.
A team member who makes decisions to act, takes responsibility for their actions and the outcome of those actions, is valuable to the business. Questions in this section help the interviewer gain an understanding of how well the applicant thinks on their feet and if they are willing to make decisions or would rather be told what to do.
1. What are the first three things you would do on the job if you were hired for this position?
The question requires the candidate to be decisive and come up with an action plan. The answer you receive will give you an understanding into how the interviewee approaches new, possibly uncharted, situations. If the candidate answers that she will wait to be told what to do, you may have an unmotivated, high maintenance candidate.
2. If we hired you, what are the three most important attributes that you believe you would bring to our company?
The hope is that the candidate did their homework and knows a little about your company. If so, they should be creative in their approach to answering this question. One skill may be easy, and two may be a little taxing. Asking for three attributes requires that they think quickly as well as creatively on their feet. While the answers are important, how they get to the answers reveals even more. It shows that they can improvise and adapt to various situations at a moment’s notice.
3. How do you make decisions?
This simple open-ended question is packed full of potential. The candidate should elaborate on their decision-making process. If they stumble on this one, it may be an indication that they are usually told what to do rather than think on their feet. Perhaps they haven’t been given a chance in the past to make decisions. If other questions lead toward a good candidate, you may be able to change their habits by empowering them to make decisions. If you do not have the luxury of that kind of time, use their unsatisfactory answer to this questions as another red flag.
4. Do you have any questions for me?
This question has been asked over a million times by employers, but doubtfully used for determining if the candidate can think on their feet. Typically what is asked are questions about salary, start date, vacation and other benefits. What you are looking for is a quick-thinking candidate who may have also prepared a strategy for this question. Both responses are positive.
5. Describe a time when you were asked to do something you were not trained to do. How did you handle it?
The answer to this question provides insight into how the candidate adjusts to doing something outside of her comfort zone. Asking how she handled it helps to learn about her thinking process and if she can change direction on the fly. Candidates that can adapt and ask for assistance from managers and coworkers should be considered as able to think on their feet.
Please send me any questions you may have used to find the perfect candidate.