Probably one of the most dreaded questions in an interview is “So tell me about yourself.” It scares candidates, causes them to ramble and at best, you as the hiring manager, get a useless answer.
What you really want to know is whether the job candidate can solve a business need.
There’s a great way to ask this question that actually empowers a job candidate and provides great insight into their motivation and character. Jennifer Dulski, who runs Change.org and is featured in The NY Times Corner Office column, suggests a spin on this question to get a more thoughtful answer the next time you interview someone:
“ ‘I’ve read your résumé. Tell me about how you got to be the person on the paper. What happened before all of this?’ The No. 1 thing I look for is what I call ‘patterns of accomplishment.’ ”
Definitely ask about the patterns in their career that helped them succeed. Words like resilience, tenacity, optimism are good indicators of a positive attitude and someone who can problem-solve and run with the ball. You want to hear stories of taking initiative in the presence of ambiguity or ability to be flexible when change is happening. You may find that with the right questions, you’ll unearth the rare and best talent for the job.
Another team building tip she offers could be very useful to managers and leaders frustrated with employees who complain without first trying to solve the problem:
“I’ve had a rule for most of my career that people on my teams can bring me any problem, as long as they bring me at least three ideas for a solution. If all you bring me is a problem, then it’s just you complaining to me.”
Here are some online video trainings and DVDs that can help:
* The Practical Coach (helps managers become better coaches for their teams)
* Paradigm Shifts (great for innovation and managing change)