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Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions

George Bradt

Here is an excerpt from an exceptionally valuable article written by George Bradt and published by Forbes magazine. To read the complete article, check out other resources, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

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The only three true job interview questions are:

1.  Can you do the job?
2.  Will you love the job?
3.  Can we tolerate working with you?

That’s it.  Those three.  Think back, every question you’ve ever posed to others or had asked of you in a job interview is a subset of a deeper in-depth follow-up to one of these three key questions.  Each question potentially may be asked using different words, but every question, however it is phrased, is just a variation on one of these topics: Strengths, Motivation, and Fit.

Can You Do the Job? – Strengths

Executive Search firm Heidrick & Struggles CEO, Kevin Kelly explained to me that it’s not just about the technical skills, but also about leadership and interpersonal strengths.  Technical skills help you climb the ladder.  As you get there, managing up, down and across become more important.

“You can’t tell by looking at a piece of paper what some of the strengths and weaknesses really are…We ask for specific examples of not only what’s been successful but what they’ve done that hasn’t gone well or a task they they’ve, quite frankly, failed at and how they learned from that experience and what they’d do different in a new scenario.

“Not only is it important to look at the technical skill set they have…but also the strengths on what I call the EQ side of the equation in terms of getting along and dealing or interacting with people.”

Click here for more on interviewing and being interviewed for strengths.

Will You Love the Job? –Motivation

Cornerstone International Group CEO, Bill Guy emphasizes the changing nature of motivation,

“…younger employees do not wish to get paid merely for working hard—just the reverse: they will work hard because they enjoy their environment and the challenges associated with their work…. Executives who embrace this new management style are attracting and retaining better employees.”

Click here for more on interviewing and being interviewed for motivation.

Can We Tolerate Working With You? – Fit

Continuing on with our conversation, Heidrick’s Kelly went on to explain the importance of cultural fit:

“A lot of it is cultural fit and whether they are going to fit well into the organization…  The perception is that when (senior leaders) come into the firm, a totally new environment, they know everything.  And they could do little things such as send emails in a voicemail culture that tend to negatively snowball over time.  Feedback or onboarding is critical.  If you don’t get that feedback, you will get turnover later on.”

He made the same point earlier in an interview with Smart Business, referencing Heidrick’s internal study of 20,000 searches.

“40 percent of senior executives leave organizations or are fired or pushed out within 18 months. It’s not because they’re dumb; it’s because a lot of times culturally they may not fit in with the organization or it’s not clearly articulated to them as they joined.”

Click here for more on interviewing and being interviewed for fit.

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George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his combined senior line management and consulting experience. After his education at Harvard and Wharton, George progressed through sales, marketing and general management roles around the world at Fortune 500 companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and then J.D. Power and Associates as chief executive of its Power Information Network spin off. Now he is a Principal of CEO Connection and Managing Director of PrimeGenesis, the executive onboarding and transition acceleration group he founded in 2002. Since then, George and PrimeGenesis have reduced the risk of failure fourfold for executives they have worked with – from 40% to 10% – based on their own team, tools and perspective on delivering better results faster.

His published works include Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time (2009) and The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results  (2011). You can contact George directly at gbradt@primegenesis.com.

 

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