Article by FranMoisa

In this article, we will focus on the 1st interview and how you can, as an employer, structure and position it in such a way that it not only helps you identify the best match for you but also acts as a value point for potential candidates.

If you missed Part 1 of " How to recruit and retain employees", you can read it here.

Let's take a walk down memory lane together.

Think of all the times you interviewed, as a professional.

How many times were you asked these questions (or a version of these)?

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you know about our business?
  • Why do you want to leave?

A lot of times, no?

And when you answered those, was it quite a standard answer? What you answered to company X, was answered to company Y and so on.

It's ok. It's not your fault. It's not even the company's or interviewer's fault.

It's a systematic fault.

When these interview questions/ techniques were developed they had a few advantages - the greatest one being that they were new, fresh. So, it sparked discussion, it sparked answers and I am sure it did give some great insight.

At the time.

Maybe 20-30 years ago.


Not so much.

Not when they have been standardized and inviting general, scripted answers.

Your go-to "weakness" of being a perfectionist might be the greatest asset to X and the biggest detriment to Y.

It's all about context. Deliverables. Expectations. Insight and Value.

So why not upgrade your interview technique to really uncover skills, character, patterns and most importantly, value?

Why would you not want to focus on understanding the possibility of both yourself, as an employer, and the prospective employee, of creating mutual value?

After all, the more precise and driven both of you are, the more chances are that you will both benefit from a long-term partnership.

So, to cut a long story short (too late for that, I know), here are some things you can do, as an employer, to enhance your interview process

Forget about these standardized questions. I am not saying throw them out of the window but adapt them to create conversation.

Instead of asking what your weakness is, ask the prospective employee about a time they failed at work and how they dealt with it.

Instead of asking what is your strength, ask the prospective employee about the achievement they are proudest of - what was it? What part did they play in it? What was the outcome? How has it challenged them?

Instead of asking them why they are leaving their current employer, ask them what makes them tick - what is it that they are looking for, that they are not getting where they are?

Instead of asking them where they see themselves in 5 years, ask them what are their expectations from their professional work? What training they are interested in? What is the most important professional milestone they want to reach?

You probably heard the saying that goes "Trust actions, not words".

It's a good one to remember. But how many times have we seen sporadic actions, usually after a threat has taken place.

That employee who picked up the slack after one warning but dropped the ball again after 3 months.

That chocolate you did not eat because you already had way too much pasta for lunch.

We are all capable of sporadic actions that frame us in a positive light. But are those actions consistent? Are those reliable?

What you want to look for, when interviewing, is patterns - that's right.

Patterns of behaviour can help you understand the person in front of you.

A bit like dating. If all their exes are crazy, it's probably a lot to do with them, rather than their exes.

So how can you uncover patterns?

There are a lot of behavioural tests that can give you an overall understanding of the prospective employees' natural behavioural patterns.

Or you can, by using the tips above, frame questions to uncover behaviour that occurred in the same situations at different times/ places.

For example, look to understand the failures they had in each role (we all do ) and the achievements they had in each role.

What is the common denominator in those situations?

When leaving past roles.

What is the common denominator in those situations?

Now you start forming patterns and you can understand the possibility of those patterns occurring in your business and you can decide the value or detriment they hold.

Why would the person in front of you work with you?

We all heard the term the great resignation. The balance of power is now more even - professionals are considering 3 or 4 opportunities at the same time. By treating them as a transaction or as if you are doing them a favour for having a job vacancy on, you will lose them.

I am not saying to jump through hoops - that's unrealistic and detrimental.

But you must adapt to the market and position yourself favourably from day 1, regardless of whether it's an employer's or employee's market.

In Part 1 I mentioned that as an employer, you must position yourself from a value point of view and treat each prospective employee as you would a paying customer.

If the person walking out of the interview is not for you, it's fine.

But they must walk out thinking "What a great meeting that was. I am glad I met them. Not for me the role, but they were great"

Common Sense Basics

Be on time.

Be prepared.

Be courteous and respectful.

Be prepared to give a timeline indication to the prospective employee, so expectations can be managed.

Provide feedback post-interview.

Part 3. Of the How to recruit and retain employees will be published in 2 weeks and it will focus on offer presentation to a prospective candidate.

Fran Moisa is a headhunter and talent advisor, based in Malta.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.