Curiosity may kill the cat, but it enlightens the world. I am sure many thousands of people saw apples fall from a tree, but Newton asked why, and the world became a bit more enlightened. Curiosity requires an opening of the heart and the mind. The heart is required because not everything can be known mathematically/scientifically.
Your disposition as an interviewer is important as you seek to understand the person across the table. Be curious; have a sincere desire to know the person and not simply what the person did or does. Asking the same questions of every candidate in a “canned” interview approach does not allow for the uniqueness of the individual to shine through. What is left is an opaque understanding of a candidate who, by the way, will be left feeling uninspired by your approach and, therefore, your company. If you give this (uninspired) person an offer, they most likely will think you are desperate and unprofessional. And if the (uninspired) candidate accepts your offer – well then, you get what you deserve – the proverbial mouse running on the wheel and getting nowhere.
I realize telling you to be curious during the interview is a bit like sharing a Van Gogh painting with you – both are abstract. How do you teach someone to be curious about another person? Especially when an interview feels like another calendar event that prevents you from accomplishing anything related to your high-stressed, anxiety-filled job. Below, however, is a simple tip on how to execute this technique…but more importantly, a note on why it matters.
Reveal the How and Why
All candidates will instinctively tell you what they have accomplished, typically laid out beautifully in their resumes. To be curious about a candidate simply means getting past what the candidate did or does. This is accomplished by getting to the hows and whys of the candidate’s story. You can prepare for the interview by reviewing (5 minutes max) the whats listed on the candidate’s resume and start exploring in your mind the hows & whys behind the whats. You see the apple falling – now seek to understand why. Drawing candidates deeper into the “hows” and “whys” of their history will expose, with much greater clarity, who the candidate is and will make the interview far more interesting and the outcome far more likely to succeed.
Be Curious to Attract Top Candidates
Which leads me finally to “why bother”; “does this really matter?” Yes! Not only will you see the candidate with greater clarity, but it is highly attractive to candidates to be known for who they are and not simply for what they do or what they did. Humans’ deepest desires are to be known by being heard and understood for who they are. Execute this simple technique well and the best candidates (the ones who are hard to get) will view you and your organization as highly professional, authentic…and maybe even enlightened.