There are signs of recovery, with an accompanying sense of normality, in the conversations I am having with people going for new roles and being excited about the possibilities of their potential and for new adventures to come.

It feels like an awakening from a deep, deep hibernation. It is heartening for an old timer like me to see optimism in the eyes of good people; however, one slightly downbeat note is how dully formal, banal and unimaginative job interviews can still seem to be, often sucking the joy out of an opportunity. While it isn’t worthy of a full-on rant, it still leaves me a little sad that interviews are too often such cautious and under-explored meetings.

I would love there to be much more energy, challenge and exploration in this process; and for the objective to be less about not making a bad hire, and much more about making an absolutely brilliant hire. With a degree of impertinence that only comes without responsibility, may I suggest a few questions for both interviewers and interviewees…

Questions for the employer to ask:

  • What are the qualities you bring to this role that make you feel proud, and how would you like to work with us so that these qualities can be seen and felt by us?
  • How would you like to be managed and what are the leadership qualities you most admire in others?
  • When you find yourself a little out of your comfort zone how good are you at asking for help and what will we notice if you feel stressed?
  • How do show kindness to colleagues? What will we notice that shows the importance of your kindness?
  • When was the last time you achieved something that made you feel truly fulfilled? What were the different emotions and feelings you had at the time?

Questions for the candidate to ask:

  • What is the best contribution I can make for you at this time, and how will you help me make the best contribution I can?
  • On a bad day, what am I likely to see in those who manage me and those I work with?
  • What is it about my CV and my story that makes you think I will be a good fit for your team and your plans?
  • I know I won’t be the only person who can do this role, and I hope you have a great list of candidates to assess, but if I was lucky enough to be offered the role, what is your best advice for me to succeed in my first few weeks?
  • Nothing is forever, so there may be a future date (hopefully far, far away) when it will be the right time to move on. How can we work together so that we will know we gave our best to each other?

So, nothing outrageous or gimmicky, but things that get to the heart of our humanity and especially our need to do well for others and for ourselves.

Too often people talk about hiring as being a bit of a lottery, and perhaps my questions do not help change that possibility; but interviews should be an opportunity to make every candidate feel hopeful about their potential, energised by the ambition for the role and needed. If we held this thought at the front of our minds, I think the interview process would become instantly more engaging and valuable. A job interview is a guided tour of our potential and of the role we hope to fill; it is a moment to relish what we have achieved already and to be hopeful for what is to come.

Take care. Paul xx