Monday, January 2, 2017

Interview Questions That Work! Part II

"We all prospect, and don't even know we're doing it. When you start the dating process, you are actually prospecting for the person you want to marry. When you're interviewing employees, you are prospecting for someone who will best fit your needs." -- Zig Ziglar

Last time, I mentioned that screening for the right person for the job is always a challenge. You need someone not only qualified, but with a passion for the work and a desire to serve. You don't have the luxury of multiple interviews, following up with past employers, calling all character references, or reading through multi-page resumes, (they're usually not true anyway).

I gave you nine of 50 great questions for you to use in your interview process. Here are another ten that include good customer service screening questions and also some that will let you know how well the candidate can think on his/her feet.These questions will help you to decide quickly whether the candidate you are interviewing is the right fit or not. Each question has been filtered through a vast array of human resources scenarios to determine if any are "questionable" or "offensive" based on current HR laws, regulations, and interviewing rules, (e.g., discriminatory questions based on violations of ADA, Title VI, etc.), and each one has passed the test.

Customer Service
Providing excellence in customer service is so vital for the success of your company, that hiring talent that can deliver the best to your customers must be a priority. It’s been said that if you have great customer service, its assumed that you provide a great product. These questions will help you identify those candidates who not only know the importance of great customer service, but can deliver that service.

1. What have you done at your present/last company to provide a wonderful experience for your customers?
A generic question that the candidate can answer in a variety of ways. You are looking for specifics that shows the candidate took action to provide for a good experience for the customer. The best possible answers include total recall of incidents where the candidate knows that she shined and remembers comment cards from customers or kudos from supervisors.

2. Have you encountered a situation where you dealt with a really upset customer, or were even blamed for something that wasn’t your fault? How did you handle it?
Great follow-up to the first question. Every business has unsatisfied customers, whether justified or not. It is simply part of running a business. Here, you are tying to get the candidate to provide an honest account of a difficult scenario and how they handled it. The main thing you are looking for in their response is if they are focused on finding a positive solution for the customer.

3. How have you advocated for your customers when it was apparent that their issues could be prevented by improving how a product was designed (e.g., how the food was prepared, tires changed, medical device sold), how a process could be streamlined, or how communication could have been improved?
With this question, you are looking for where the candidate may put the blame for a customer service issue rather than doing what it takes to please the customer. If the candidate recalls an incident when he did all that was possible to right the situation regardless of who or what was at fault, you may have found someone who places customer service as a high priority-a trait that is required to be successful in this job.

4. Give me an example of when you went the extra mile for a customer?
Any question asked during an interview should be designed to elicit more than just a “yes” or “no.” This question prompts the candidate to retrieve a file that will give you information on how she thinks and reacts outside the normal parameters. Tony Hsieh tells the story of how one of his employees at Zappos, an online shoe store, once ordered a pizza for a customer who requested one using her personal credit card. You may not want a candidate that feels empowered in that extreme, but close to it would be nice.

5. Describe a delightful customer service experience you had when you were the customer in a restaurant. What did the server/cashier/hostess, etc., do to make it so?
You are looking for a response that indicates that they know what is meant by good customer service and what it took to deliver it for them.

Thinking on Their Feet
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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

When you get a chance, let me know of any great questions you've used before to find qualified candidates.

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