The World of Work is Changing, And So Should Your Job Interviews

June 9, 2017

Job interviews today need to focus on communication, adaptability and problem solving.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you want to develop apps? Manage social media channels? Sell data analytics software?

Probably not. If you’re over 30, those jobs didn’t even exist when you were in grade school.

What we refer to as “work” is changing. Rapidly. Every single day. And that rapid change can result in a “butts-in-the-chair” mentality when it comes to hiring.

Organizations want someone who can fill the specific job competencies, now. But the reality is, in five years, your organization will be completely different.  

If you interview solely for job-specific competencies, it narrows your lens to the now, instead of the future. But the job you’re interviewing for now may not exist next year, and if it does exist it may be totally transformed.

So how can you find great candidates today who will still be strong tomorrow? Here are three screening criteria to help you hire for the long haul.

1. Flexibility

You want candidates who are adaptable, even if you’re not anticipating adaptability as a qualification for the job at this moment. Questions to assess flexibility include:

  • Tell me about a time when a customer, a problem or even a job wasn’t what you anticipated.
  • What do you think is the difference is between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset?
  • When’s the last time you failed? What did you learn from it?

2. Communication

Communication, both verbal and written, has moved from a “nice to have” to a “must have.” Get specific about what “good communicator” looks like in your organization.

For example, you don’t want someone who merely sends out well written Friday updates, you want someone versed in communicating the nuances of change.

Try asking:

  • How do you deliver bad news to your boss?
  • When have you failed to communicate effectively?
  • What do you think is important in communicating change?

3. Problem solving

When you think about it, most business models are organized around problems and solutions. With change comes more complex problems.  

Leaders often think of problem solving, as it relates to job specific challenges, i.e. accounting problems, challenging customers, process failures, etc. If you want to hire for the future, take a longer view.

Think of a candidate’s ability to contribute to problem solving outside of their role. Consider questions like:

  • How do you reset yourself when something doesn’t work out?
  • What do you think the biggest challenge facing our industry is?
  • How do you brainstorm? 

Job-specific skills are table stakes. If you want a team who can scale, look for holistic skills and traits that will stand the test of time.

Lisa Earle McLeod and Elizabeth McLeod work with organizations to improve competitive differentiation and emotional engagement. Check out their LinkedIn Learning courses here.