Even if you have the benefit of an HR department to do the legwork, a good leader is going to want some face time with a candidate before hiring. That means an interview.
Interviewing candidates is a skill that can be learned. You’ll normally start with the basics: where the candidate went to school, his or her work history, greatest accomplishments, biggest challenges, and the like. Some rather prominent companies will also throw in some obscure questions that can provide insight into how the candidate thinks.
But there is one question that only the savviest interviewers ever ask. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard this question in any of your interviews:
“What do you plan to achieve in the first 90 days that will make me glad I hired you?”
It’s genius. Why? Well, by default, most interview questions are behavioral–they focus on what the candidate has done in the past. Thing is, that’s not always a good representation of the person is capable of: it’s what happened, and that’s fine. But here you’re asking about the future: essentially, you’re giving candidates permission to sell themselves. The responses can be very revealing, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways:
- It shows they’ve done their homework.
While this isn’t a yes-or-no, right-or-wrong type of question, the candidate hasn’t put much thought into the interview won’t even know where to start with an answer. The candidate who has done due-diligence, however, should at least have an idea of what the company does, what your vision is, and what your needs are. Qualified candidates should be able to give an answer that demonstrates a working knowledge of your business and the responsibilities of the position.
- It shows they’re ready to work.
In this day and age, most new hires don’t have the luxury of a lengthy learning curve. You want your new people to be ready to go from Day One. No one expects a candidate to have an in-depth understanding of the company, but seeing that the person knows enough to start contributing right away–and wants to start contributing right away–can make you feel better about bring him or her on.
- It shows they’re a good fit.
Every company has a different culture, one that’s reflected in its leadership and its people. The right answer here could show whether the interviewee will mesh with the culture immediately. A person who seems too rigid might not be able to adapt.
- It shows they’re qualified.
Entrepreneur Monica Eaton-Cardone said it best: “Success is a combination of the right knowledge and skill set, as well as hard work and the determination to succeed.”
- It shows they want the JOB, not just the position.
Having some ideas on how to make an immediate impact is good, but candidates who can detail position-appropriate goals demonstrate that they want to do the work. And in some ways, they’re saying that they’ve already started doing the job.
As you can see, an interviewer can gain a lot of knowledge with a question like this. One word of caution, however: the question is reversible. If a candidate asks YOU “What’s the best way to make you ecstatic that you hired me within the first 90 days?”, you might look a bit silly if you can’t produce an answer.
But you’ll know you’ve found the right person for the job.