Interview Questions to Help You Hire Winners
According to John Featherstone, author of Start Hiring Winners, a lot of hiring managers commit the same fatal mistake during interviews - they just don't know when to stop talking. If you're relying on your "gut feelings" about a candidate and allowing them to sit back and listen to your rambling line of questioning, you're simply not learning anything about the candidate's skills and potential value to your company.
“Seldom does one learn anything while talking,” Featherstone says. “The purpose of the interview is to gather job-related facts. This requires that the candidate talk about 80 percent of the time.”
Featherstone believes the key to finding the best people to hire lies in intensive questioning that covers various areas of assessment. Here are a few of his top questions and areas to consider:
1. The practice of management
a. Define “management” for me.
b. How would your previous superiors describe your management skills?
c. What is your style of management, and can you share an example of how well it has worked for you?
a. Tell me about a policy you put in place that generated employee resistance.
b. Describe and give examples of your self-confidence.
c. How do you convince people to want to do what needs to be done?
a. How do you assess risk?
b. Describe the circumstances where you had to make a decision before you had sufficient facts.
a. How did you bring about your greatest achievement?
b. How are your previous employers better off as a result of your employment?
a. Is delegation worth the risk? Explain with examples.
b. How do you manage a task delegated to a subordinate?
a. What was the worst decision you made in the last year, and what was the outcome?
7. Ability/desire to learn
a. What periodicals do you currently read?
b. What did you learn from your previous superior?
8. Planning ability
a. Tell me about the best plan you prepared, how you implemented it and the results.
b. How do you decide what elements of a plan to delegate?
9. Ability to organize
a. Help me to understand how job descriptions help employees work better.
b. What data do you collect to measure progress in your area, and how do you use it?
John Featherstone's Bio:
John Featherstone, author of “Start Hiring Winners,” is a consultant to small business and a former five-year volunteer with SCORE, mentoring and training small-business owners and employees. His business consultations include an eight-year project with a distillery in El Salvador. As a division vice president/general manager for a privately held confectionery company, Featherstone managed a spectacular annual growth rate of 50 percent for seven consecutive years. Featherstone also has owned, operated and sold three small businesses. Over 25 years, he has field-tested and perfected his “Start Hiring Winners” system. Featherstone lives in San Pedro, Calif., near Los Angeles. The book “Start Hiring Winners” is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.