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Creating a positive culture is more than putting a ping-pong table in the break room or free snacks.
It’s also about hiring positive, motivated employees who share your company’s values and are committed to making a difference.
It’s always good to remember, while the look of your office shows how much you care, the people that are in that building make your company what it is.
That is where the interview process and the questions come in:
1. Who is your favorite person that you have ever worked with or for?
You’ll have a couple of answers: One person will say this person was their favorite because they were best friends, they can talk about anything and would always laugh. That shows me that this person’s number one focus is not growth — meaning head down and getting to work.
An answer like, “My first boss was so strict, and at first, I hated him. Two years in, I realized I learned so much and he helped me be so much better in my job and as a professional.”
That person gets that if they sew in hard work they are going to reap success. If someone gives them critical feedback, it will help them grow.
I want that person.
Related: 3 Interview Questions To Help You Hire The Right People
2. Who is your least favorite?
I don’t care about the least favorite person, I care WHY. This shows me what kind of management style the candidate doesn’t work well with.
Say the reason was that they brought their boss this idea they worked on for weeks, and all their boss said was “thank you,” but they think they didn’t respect their opinions.
It is likely their boss respects their opinions, even on an average level.
This shows they are probably wearing a lens that makes them think people generally disrespect their opinions. So, if I hire them, I have to fight with this person’s ghosts and do extra to make them know I respected their idea.
3. Where do you get your moral code or compass from?
The way people ground themselves is mercurial.
When someone says they are their own moral compass, they have no concrete thing they ground themselves in and will get blown in the wind.
You want the source to be really good — a parental figure, a historical figure, an institution, etc.
This way you know they hold themselves to a standard and you don’t have to manage their moralities.
4. If you get to the end of your life and look back at the time between now and then, what will make you say, “I did it!”?
I want to see if their desires line up with the company — their desires beyond personal goals, what they want to accomplish and where they see themselves in five years.
It helps me know that we are aligned and a qualified organization for what they want to do and achieve.
If it makes sense, then they will see your company as a bridge to help get to their goals.
This is the most integrity-focused and integrous part of the vetting process, too, because you can also see if the company is a good fit for the individual.
Related: 3 Ways to Establish a Positive Company Culture
5. Name everything you can do with a brick.
This is the best test — those with a higher IQ would, on average, be able to give 12 or more creative answers in five minutes. If they give less than six in five minutes, then it is indicative of lower fluid IQ and less creativity, and it also indicates that they will struggle to come up with solutions to complex, nuanced problems.
This test does not tell everything about IQ or anything like that, but you do get an inkling.
For example, a marketer will give more creative, longer, paragraph-style answers as opposed to an operator who would give a lot of answers, but brief two-word ones.
Someone with creative answers would not be able to follow set patterns, as opposed to the operator’s logical answers.
6. If you were going to give a training on __, what would the outline be?
I prefer this question over asking questions like, “How much experience do you have in ___?” or “How good are you at ___?”
You don’t want their opinion on their knowledge, and you don’t want them to tell you what they’re good at. You want them to display knowledge.
By asking the candidate to teach you about the position they are applying for, you will be able to see how teachable they are, where they got their knowledge from and how much they know.
You want to also know if they know more than you. You never know what you might be able to learn.
7. What is something that you have learned about __ that most people in the industry don’t know?
I want to know, again, where on their timeline of learning they are. There are three levels to this:
The formative level: Where you accept what anybody tells you about anything.
The medium level: “Oh! I have learned something on my own, and I now have my own rules.”
The final level: Where you are judging and where it can be dangerous to a degree. You take everything from the first two and apply it further.
You are asking for them to demonstrate if they are at that third level and if they are at that level of fidelity in their knowledge.
Related: 11 Crucial Interview Questions to Ensure a Culture Fit
To promote a positive culture, you want to know how much your candidates care about the role and the company.
For example, a candidate coming to an interview in a suit, a notebook and their resume — even though the company is very casual — shows they care about you, the role and the company.
It’s more than giving water and comfy chairs. It’s also about creating a work environment that fosters collaboration, innovation and growth. This starts with the people — people make the company, not the other way around.