Interviews. You either love them or hate them.
I loved them. Mainly because I knew all the questions they were going to ask and I had my answers memorized down to every single word.
“What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?”
“What kind of boss do you work well for?”
I knew what was coming, so every interview was calculated. I walked in confident, knowing that I was going to be able to turn the weaknesses question into a positive. I knew the type of boss to describe to inflate the interviewer's ego. I had them all down.
That was until I walked into an interview with Elevate United. The entire process of applying to a job with Elevate United was completely different than any process I had gone through, but the interview style was much different as well.
After being hired, I took on the role of “Unicorn Wrangler,” or just a fancy and more creative term for recruiter/brand ambassador at Elevate United. Here are some of the best practices we use when recruiting new talent (or as we like to say, unicorns):
1. A Note on Boring Cover Letters
Cover letters are still a thing, but for some reason they seem outdated to me. I remember being taught in college to write a cover letter in this format: this is what I like about your company and this is why you should hire me. Everything about that is so basic and can easily be crafted into something that is unauthentic.
When I ran across the ad for the job at Elevate United, a cover letter was required upon submission (in fact, your resume won’t even be considered if you don’t answer the questions), but there were specific questions you had to answer. I was immediately intrigued by the questions being asked and the creativity I was going to have to use to answer the questions.
You may be wondering: What does this do?
It narrows it down to those who are truly interested in the position and those who are mass-submitting to job postings online. It also creates a space for the candidate to show their creativity and to let their personality shine. A typical cover letter is very formal, and oftentimes people are using a template with your company’s name filled into blanks. Use this tactic and you are sure to get some wrong candidates through the door.
Use questions like the ones we use over at Elevate United and you will immediately narrow down your candidates. You will get to see how they think, the research they did on your company (and their honest opinion of it), what makes them excited about the field, and their personality (through some free online personality tests).
If you would like access to the questions we ask, you can get those by clicking here.
2. Sit Back in the Interview
We always bring the candidates in for a face-to-face interview during the first round. We don’t do phone calls. If the candidate is out of state, we will ask for a Skype interview for their first round.
This is because you get a much better idea of who this person is, how they interact with you, and how they carry themselves when you meet with someone in person.
Through the interview process with Elevate United, I tried to pinpoint what it was that made it so unique. After holding a few of the initial interviews on my own, I determined that it was sitting back.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the candidate should really be the one carrying the interview. You, as the interviewer, should be sitting back and receiving from the interviewee. You should be leading the conversation by the questions you are asking, but the candidate should be prepared enough to carry conversation about the company and the role they would be playing. After all, they are trying to earn the spot with your company. This all goes back to the cover letter questions as well. The cover letter questions guide the candidate into the first interview.
Sitting back also helps the candidate relax. The idea of intimidation in an interview is one that is counterintuitive. No one performs well when they are nervous. People enter fight or flight mode when they feel nervous and intimidated. When you sit back and present a relaxing environment for the candidate, you are much more likely to see who they truly are and get answers to questions that are crucial to the success of employees in your organization.
3. Ask Unique Questions
This is by far the part of the interview process that took me off guard the most when I interviewed with Elevate United. The questions Mike asked me were ones I had not heard before. I felt like I was sitting down with a real person who was asking me real questions; someone who wanted to get to know the real me. That is the goal of the interview process here at Elevate United: getting to know the real person as much as you can in the interview process.
So what kind of questions do we ask? Here are a few my favorites and why.
“What do you really love to do and what do you really hate to do?”
This question is a spin-off of the question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” But here is why the question above is so much better. The question above lets you see the person’s face light up when they talk about what they love to do, and chances are if they love doing it, they’re probably pretty good at it. We all love to do the things that we are good at because that’s when we feel like we are contributing our best selves. When they answer what they hate to do, that’s a pretty good indicator of whether or not this candidate is going to succeed in your organization based on the role you are going to have them play. If they hate doing something that you know you need done on a regular basis, probably not a good fit.
“Tell me a little bit about your personality profiles and what you thought about them after taking the test.”
I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for personality tests, so when I submitted my application I already knew all of my profiles. However, some people have just discovered what their Myers Briggs or DISC profile says about how they function.
This is a great question because it points them back to the cover letter questions and reinforces that there is a method to the madness. It also says a good bit about humility.
Let me tell you why.
Sometimes the candidate will say, “Well I don’t really agree with personality tests because it puts me in a box and I don’t like to be put in boxes.” This is a great indicator to me of how they will end up functioning in our organization. We are HUGE on improvement. Improvement in the workplace and improvement in personal lives. Part of this is knowing who you are, what you are good at, what you are not good at, how you handle conflict, your tendencies, and much, much more. If a candidate can’t even take a step back in the interview process to reflect on a personality test and learn something about themselves that they might not have known, that’s a red flag in our organization and culture. Not to say that every sentence describing your personality type will be spot on, but if you take a step back and reflect, you are sure to learn something.
So how are you recruiting top talent to work for your company? Are you in control of the process? Or are you letting outdated processes dictate the type of candidate that enters your organization?
I can guarantee that implementing these tips will help you build the type of team and culture you are looking for in your company or organization.
Don’t forget to grab our cover letter questions and make them your own!