Question 2: What does the John Doe brand stand for?

Another in the line of Great Interview Questions, this one helps me understand if the candidate has critically thought about what they bring to the table.  I find a certain amount of self-awareness in the best candidates, and this is a great way to uncover it.

I ask this at the beginning of an interview to get a feel for what the candidate thinks of herself.  During the remainder of the interview, I compare my observations with her description to see if they match.  If the two don’t connect, I dig deeper into a particular area.  For example, she may claim that making decisions quickly is a strength of hers.  During the behavioral questions, I’ll get to the bottom of it.  If she can’t give me concrete examples of fast decision-making, even after two or three questions designed to elicit that answer, I know she’s not critically self-aware enough to know her own strengths.  Or I’ll know that she was just inventing an answer.

This question isn’t just about skills and opportunities for improvement, though.  It’s about brand–so much more than mere features or strengths.  What’s the brand promise?  “When I hire you, I’m going to get ____________.”

Candidates are great at talking about features and strengths.  Look at any resume, and you’ll find high prominence given to skills and experiences, rather than the benefits of hiring someone.

MS Office expertise?  Check.
5+ years of experience?  Check.
Project management?  Check.
Training experience?  Check.

But how about “I’m uniquely experienced in motivating under-performing employees to improve results.  I don’t just do my job–I help make those around me better.”  Now that’s a benefit, and a big part of that person’s brand.  That’s what I’m looking for when I ask “What does the <John Doe> brand stand for?”

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