Most promotional product job interviews are a challenging experience for everyone involved.
The candidate is nervous and on edge. Most candidate’s greatest fear about a job interview is that they’ll be open, honest, their best self will shine through, and they still won’t get the job. To hedge against this, most study up on inauthentic rehearsed answers that they think the hiring manager will want to hear.
Often the interviewer is less than prepared and would rather be doing something else. The biggest mistake most hiring managers make is taking a candidate’s answer at face value. That’s not to say that they are lying, but talk is cheap.
Canned Responses and A Wasted Hour
Here are 5 very common traditional interview questions that you’ve probably asked or been asked.
- “What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?”
- “What did you enjoy most/least about your last position?”
- “Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.”
- “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”
- “How would your coworkers or supervisor describe you?”
9 out of 10 times these questions get you absolutely nowhere. You’ll learn little about your candidate and be no closer to discovering what they would be like as a co-worker. Candidates have prepared and rehearsed these answers to death. The canned answers are designed to make the candidate look great and tell the interviewer what they want to hear. As a result, the interviewer and the candidate part ways knowing very little new, honest information about each other.
How can you be expected to make the very expensive decision of hiring a new employee with such murky information?
The solution to this predicament is behavior-based questions. These questions are built on the philosophy that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
Traditional interview question: “How do you handle stress?”
Behavior-based interviewing question: “Tell me about a time you had to perform a task or project under a lot of stress?”
20 Terrific Interview Questions for CSRs
“Describe a time you exceeded the expectations of a client?”
“Sometimes sales reps will drag their feet in taking action on something or be out of the office and unreachable. Tell me about a time that quick action was needed on something and you took it upon yourself to lead the effort.”
“Describe a situation where you had to collect information by asking many people a lot of questions.”
“Give me an example of the kinds of issues you have talked to your sales rep about rather than handling them yourself.”
“Tell me about the most difficult customer with whom you’ve had to deal?”
“Tell me what tool you would use and how would use it to source 144 US-made hot pink widgets priced below $6.00.”
“Describe a time where your patience in gathering information paid off.”
“Tell me about your most challenging sourcing project and how you overcame the obstacles.”
“Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks?”
“Tell me about a time you needed to get cooperation from a vendor for you to be successful on a task or project.”
“Describe a time when you were able to become personal friends with a customer.”
“Tell me about a time when you caught an error that others had missed.”
“Describe a time you were not able to deliver a product to a client on time.”
“Give me an example of a time you identified a potential problem and resolved the situation before it became serious.”
“Tell me about the last time you missed a project deadline because you were not well organized.”
“Describe a time you had to make a quick decision with incomplete information.”
“Tell me about a time you had to work with conflicting, delayed, or ambiguous information. What did you do to make the most of the situation?”
“Describe the worst-on-the-job crisis you had to solve. How did you manage to maintain your composure?”
“Tell me about a situation in which a customer was so difficult that you just gave up trying (or were unable to satisfy him/her?”
“Describe the most creative work project you’ve ever completed.”
The promotional product job interview experience and results garnered can be greatly improved when hiring firms shift from canned interview questions to behavior-based interview questions. The answers that come from behavior-based questions give the candidate a chance to truly reveal who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and what they can contribute to the hiring firm. With this knowledge, hiring firms can make quality decisions that reduce ramp-up time and improve retention.