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Top 10 Interview Questions

To Help You Secure Your Talent Pipeline

By: Giannina Burt

What is talent pipeline and why do you need one? Think of a talent pipeline like your email networking list. An insurance policy of sorts that you build up over time, and nurture and mature so that it can be a lifeline for your company when you need it, to fill a need without missing a step. Most often your email marketing list consists of potential clients, or resources you can network to build capital or to make important introductions. You may have a few potential candidates for recruitment in there, but most often that's where your talent pipeline comes into play.

A talent pipeline is a group of passive potential candidates you’ve taken through the initial recruitment process or engaged who can potentially fill future roles in your company. Building a talent pipeline gives you and your organization one especially great benefit, a network of talent at your fingertips that saves you time you’d spend on sourcing candidates, decreasing your overall time to hire.

The concept is simple, you build a network of potential candidates who've gone through the initial recruiting process and made it past round one or two and as a position opens up, you have an already sourced candidate ready to plug into that position.

As another opportunity becomes available you do the same. The idea is that you should ALWAYS be hiring, always be recruiting, ALWAYS be looking for the best and the brightest candidates to ensure that you're giving your company the best competitive advantage in the life blood of any organization-it's talent.

While the concept is simple, but the building can be harder if recruiting isn't your strong point. It's hard sometimes to know what attributes to look for, what makes a good hire, what red flags should I look for.... Luckily, we've found 10 top interview questions that have helped us to weed out the cream of the crop and unearth some of those red flags to build your talent pipeline strategies and foster relationships with passive candidates:

1. Tell Me About Yourself

  • Candidate should be able to easily and concisely talk about themselves and avoid rambling. Look for someone who doesn't detail their work history-that can be found in their resume. Rather, they should focus on elements that they want to highlight that showcase ambitions, and insight into how they would fit in to the role and the organization.

2. Can You List Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

  • The pitfall of most candidates here is they'll begin just listing off generic "interview adjectives," such as hard-working or diligent, or capable and won't really give you any real insight or forethought. Look for a candidate that will give more thoughtful insight coupled with concrete examples. For example if the're "detail oriented," then they should talk about a project that was taken down to the minute details. If they're a "strong project manager," they should talk about a project that they coordinated. Pay special attention to those candidates you don't have to extract this information from with follow up questions.

  • A candidate should never tell you they have no weaknesses, and those who do you should run from. Watch also for those sly candidates who will give themselves the back-handed compliment "I work too hard, or care too much," they're just as bad. Look instead for those candidates who are self aware and confident enough to identify their true weaknesses, but keep them technical not personal. Special points to those who divulge true weakness but follow up with their action plan of how they're working on it or with it.

3. What Do You Know About Our Company or Our Team And Why Do You Want To Work Here?

  • As a recruiter it always rubs me the wrong way when candidates don't do their research. It shows a lack of enthusiasm for one, but also shows a lack of preparation. To me, this always is a red flag that indicates a candidate is just job hunting not thoughtfully looking for a career. This question should be your candidates chance to show you that they've done the prep work and that they like what they see.

  • Look for candidates that say specific and thought out answers to this question. "Your company provides a clearly structured career path, " or "In my research I found that your company has a good reputation in business but also with it's employees."

4. Tell Me About Your Last Position & Why You're Leaving?

  • Be wary of any candidate who uses this time to bash their former employer because chances are they'll do the same to you. Instead, look for employees who stick with the facts and takes a more liberal approach. Look for candidates who use the experience as a step forward-"it helped them to figure out what was important to them" or "it helped them to see what their deal breakers were in a career." Search out candidates who give the impression that they are motivated to use the past to propel them forward and not like they're searching for a lifeline to help them escape a bad position.

5. What Motivates You In Your Life, and in Your Work?

  • This question helps to gauge your candidates level of self-awareness and ensure their sources of motivation align with the role. Look for an answer, that is as specific as possible, and provides real-life examples that tie the answer back to the position. Use this question to figure out what makes your candidate tick, and what it would take to pull them into peak performance and if the position your offer can fulfill that.

6. What Environment Do You Work Best In?

  • Use this question as a way to gauge if your candidate is even aware of themselves enough to know. Do they like a long leash or to be micro-managed? Do they excel in a group or as an individual, and how does that align with the position and your work environment? We ask this question to better understand what drives each candidate, and to see if it aligns with our organization's structure.

7. Why Should We Choose You?

  • Is your candidate capable of selling themselves without coming off as arrogant or god's gift to your organization? Can they talk themselves up as the best candidate for the position, remaining humble, but also persuasive? Do they recognize their own strengths and weaknesses in their response and show you how they're both an asset? Search out the candidates who do well at finding the balance of this question.

8. What Are Your Expectations From This Job?

  • This question is designed to answer a two-fold question. The first, is your candidate going to stick around or move on as soon as they find a better opportunity and two, does your candidate even know what they want in a position/organization and is it realistic to what you can offer?

  • Look for candidates who keep their answers focused on the job and the company, and reiterate to you how the position aligns with their expectations and long-term goals and convey that they are in it for the long haul.

  • Look for candidates who understand and are upfront about what they want in an organization, in a position, from their managers, colleagues, in a work environment and also in benefits, options, salary etc. Candidates who are unsure or haven't yet figured these items out are always going to be a flight risk. You can't meet expectations that are unknown. The more you can align your organization with candidate expectations the better off you'll both be.

9. How Do You Deal With Conflicts At Work?

  • This is a behavioral interview question designed to discover how your candidate handles stressful work situations. Look for candidates that don't get rattled by the question and can easily discuss. Thoughtful answers that convey real life issues/conflicts with mature, rational and professional techniques to overcome and learn from these situations always get my attention. Be wary of candidates who paint every situation as rosy or their ability to deal with difficult or challenging situations in vague and generic terms.

10. Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

  • A candidate should ALWAYS have questions for you in my opinion. Not having any is a huge red flag. Interviewing & recruiting is my jam, but I'm not perfect and find it hard to believe that if you're thoughtfully searching for a career that I have answered every question you had. My favorite question as a recruiter. "How can I take myself from being good at this position to being GREAT at this position" or "What efforts can I make to ensure that I'm bringing value to the team right off the bat." Love questions that showcase a candidates eagerness to jump right in and be amazing. Honestly, all questions are golden and show that your candidate knows what they want, that they're interested in your organization and that they are serious about finding a good fit just as much as you are.

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