How Is This Book Structured?

96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire is divided into twenty-four chapters. Parts I and II, the first seventeen chapters, contain a total of ninety-six questions, approximately five questions per chapter. Each chapter either addresses individual characteristics (for identifying a candidate's career stability or promotions through the ranks, for example) or highlights functional interviewing strategies (for evaluating secretaries, senior managers, salespeople, or professional/technical staff).

Although every attempt has been made to include the most practical queries for a specific hiring need, no topic is all-inclusive. For example, although there are ten primary questions to ask sales candidates, there are other areas of the book that will complement those ten key questions. You might logically pull information out of the chapters on career stability, achievement-anchored questions, or likability and compatibility to round out your sales interview. Similarly, you could employ traditional queries with holistic interviewing questions when evaluating professional/technical candidates like accountants, programmers, or paralegals. The point is, it's up to you to mix and match the questioning techniques as you see fit. One thing is for sure, though: Talent doesn't exist in a vacuum and has to be benchmarked to your style of doing business. Consequently, you'll have plenty of latitude to customize the information for your particular interviewing situation!

You'll note as well that many of the questions are two-pronged queries that require the candidate to make logical connections and provide greater background depth in response. Those connectors not only measure how well the individual breaks down information into its component parts, but also force the candidate to tie together all the loose ends when concluding. Two-pronged questions are also beneficial because they allow you, the interviewer, to be more specific in your queries. The old one-liners don't go far enough nowadays in gathering the in-depth data necessary to make a hiring calculation. By stating your questions more specifically and intimating how you want the candidate to interpret your query, you'll automatically increase your control of the hiring situation.

High-Performance Questioning Techniques for a Competitive Business Environment

The ''Why Ask This Question?'' section after each query attempts to crystallize why the question is indeed valid. It addresses what you are attempting to measure in a candidate's response. It also specifies the ideal circumstances for employing the question in sales, secretarial, professional/technical, or senior management interviews.

The ''Analyzing the Response'' section after the query is typically much longer because it attempts to highlight:

• What you should expect to hear in a typical candidate's response

• What variations on this questioning theme exist to perhaps rephrase the query in a slightly different manner

• What danger signs you should look out for in evaluating candidate responses

• How you could employ behavioral interviewing techniques to add concrete, historical dimensions to the individual's response and thereby avoid canned and rehearsed answers

• How you could look for contrary evidence that further challenges candidates to develop or defend their answers

• How you would subsequently verify a candidate's responses via a reference check

A key advantage to this book therefore lies not only in the cataloging of high-yield questions for various hiring situations but also in the quick and insightful interpretations of expected responses. After all, once you're forewarned about the hot buttons and danger zones that could spell sub par performance or an unacceptable work ethic, you'll be better equipped to avoid marginal hires. And since no human being is perfect, you will be in a better position for damage control if you understand each candidate's shortcomings. You will gain these critical insights both through information that the candidate volunteers during your interview and through external verifications (reference checks from past employers).

Finally, Part III (Chapters 18 through 24) provides practical information in terms of getting the most for your recruitment dollar while minimizing your legal exposure.

Chapter 18, ''Staying Within the Law: Interview Questions to Avoid at All Costs!'' will help you and your management team steer clear of the interviewing snare posed by the ten key questions that could land your company in legal hot water and suggests suitable alternatives for deriving the information that you want to know.

Chapter 19, ''Telephone Screening Interviews: Formats and Follow-Ups for Swift Information Gathering,'' takes a practical look at phone assessments in order to determine whether a candidate is qualified for an in personal meeting. Such screening interviews are exceptionally effective at guarding your time since a ten minute up-front investment could potentially save hours of your (and a candidate's) time. Employ the matrix in this section to quickly and efficiently determine a candidate's viability!

Chapter 20, ''Getting Real Information from Reference Checks,'' will show you how to structure the reference-checking telephone call itself so that you can build immediate rapport and honest communication with the prior supervisor.

Chapter 21, ''Background Checks,'' includes critical information on how to select background-checking firms, how much to expect to pay for their services, and the liability your company may face in terms of theft, violence, and wrongful hiring and retention claims if you fail to conduct criminal background checks. We'll also explore newly evolving areas for investigation, including civil records checks as well as social networking checks.

Chapter 22, ''Reinventing Your Company's Employment Application,'' will surprise you when you learn how many questions you can legally ask about in writing on the application itself! In addition, we'll help you redesign your current form to highlight critical issues in candidates' backgrounds and further strengthen your questioning skills.

Chapter 23, ''Recruitment Brochures: Engaging Invitations and Introductions to Your Company,'' will show you a low-cost method to wow candidates before they even walk in the door. Talent marketing doesn't get any easier than this, yet so few companies employ this creative and fun approach.

Chapter 24, ''Maximizing Your Recruitment Resources,'' will provide a cost-benefit analysis for choosing contingency recruitment versus retained search firms. It will also address the critical role that research firms provide in unbundling the search process. Finally, it will highlight one of the best-kept secrets in town for locating high-probability candidates for free—your local outplacement firm's job development department.

So, pick up a pencil and a highlighter and join me for a behind-the-scenes look at sophisticated candidate evaluation techniques that will maximize all your recruitment and selection efforts.

Bear in mind, however, that this book is not intended as a legal guide for the complex issues surrounding candidate selection, reference checking, and other aspects of hiring and employment practices. Because the book does not purport to render legal advice, it should not be used in place of an attorney when proper legal counsel and guidance become necessary.

 
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