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  • Writer's pictureDr. Keziah Davison

5 things EVERY interview should probe (beyond hard skills), from a psychologist in recruitment

Unlocking the full potential of individuals goes beyond assessing their hard skills. As a psychologist in recruitment, I have identified five essential attributes that every employer should consider when evaluating candidates as well as practical probing techniques to help you assess effectively. By actively incorporating these traits into your selection procedures, you can make better hiring decisions and set your organisation on a path to success.

1. Leadership qualities

'Leadership' encompasses an individual's ability to (benignly) influence others, which is crucial for successful co-working and consultation. This means it is an essential characteristic for most professional careers, even if the role does not yet carry management responsibility. You may also want to entrust that person to train/lead others in future, so a strong leader = strong investment.

Probe by:

✔️ Scenario-based situational judgement;

✔️ Past examples of exerting influence for positive outcome;

✔️ Passively assessed via their warmth/charisma and how compelling they are in their speech

2. Self-awareness/balance of humility and self-confidence

An employee who can't critically self-reflect = an employee with limited potential.

Probe by:

✔️Asking them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses - if they fob the weaknesses question off with something generic e.g. 'I'm a perfectionist', push for another example or ask what their previous colleagues would say

✔️Asking how they would deal with a fall-out with a colleague/disagreement with a manager (looking for ability to speak up when needed without being overly confrontational)

3. Executive functions (complex cognitive ability), including:
  • Deductive reasoning and flexible thinking

  • Problem-solving under time pressure (thinking on your feet)

  • Task initiation and sequencing

All roles demand these abilities, but you cannot assume that someone is strong in the above just because of their academics.

Probe by:

✔️ Standardised online cognitive assessment

✔ ️Problem-solving questions (relevant to industry)

✔️ Asking them to come up with 3 different ways of approaching a task/problem

4. Tenacity

All jobs are hard, all jobs have tough periods and setbacks. Managing this with determination and positivity is what sets apart a valuable employee from a potential quitter.

Probe by:

✔️ An example of a time when something they were involved in went badly/they were rejected, and how they dealt with it.

✔️ How they will ensure they get up to scratch in their new role ASAP

5. Motivations, priorities, goals

What do they want, and are their expectations and goals in line with what the company can offer? Will they be able/driven to grow with the company, or is this a stop-gap?

The importance placed on different qualities will differ based on the position within an organisation. While the significance of specific traits may vary, it is essential for every organisation to consciously consider how they can incorporate these qualities into their selection procedures.

If your organization operates in the BioTech/Investment space, Cranmore Executive Search can offer specific assistance in designing your selection process. With our understanding of the industry, we can provide insights and recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

By collaborating with a professional recruiter or leveraging my expertise in the BioTech/Investment space, you can enhance your organisation's ability to identify and secure candidates who possess the necessary qualities to thrive in your company. Taking proactive steps to incorporate these traits into your selection procedures will contribute to the long-term success and growth of your organisation.


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