Selecting the right guy in an interview

Apart from salary, post and job profile, Chanakya suggests that it is important to know the ‘thinking’, ‘mind-set’ and ‘psychology’ of the job candidate.
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Now, this is a challenge that Human Resource (HR) departments face the most. But, today, almost every section chief has to take on the role of an HR person not only to keep his team intact but to also strengthen it further.

That’s because companies now fight more for people than for market shares. Still, you can’t recruit every other person. You have to carefully select from all applicants, and an interview is the most critical entry point for this as it determines the future of the new recruit as well as the company.

Apart from salary, post and job profile, Chanakya suggests that it is important to know the ‘thinking’, ‘mind-set’ and ‘psychology’ of the job candidate: “On finding out, he should keep him in accordance with his intentions.” (7.6.29)

But what questions should one ask in interviews? Here are some examples:

‘Who is your role model?’

Interviews usually start with the interviewer asking, “Tell me something about yourself.” The very next query should be: “Who is your role model?” This is a very different yet powerful question.

The answer will acquaint you with the candidate’s thinking pattern, because a role model is a person one usually thinks about, relates to and even tries to copy.

If a person says Bill Gates, you can understand that there is a businessman or an IT professional inside him who is seeking an opportunity. If it’s Gandhiji or any spiritual guru, it gives an idea that the person values noble ideals and gives importance to ‘ethics’ in life.

‘Whom do you spend time with?’

It’s important to know the interests and lifestyle of a person beyond the usual office hours. If the answer is “family,” you know he is a family man.

If the person’s free time is mostly spent in libraries or with friends, you know he is seeking education and knowledge, or just companionship, respectively.

As the old saying goes, “The company makes the man.” Where and with whom a person spends his free hours reveals his hobbies and other interests.

‘Suppose you were asked to….?’

It would be pay to give the person a cultural shock by forecasting a change in job profile. For example, if you are interviewing a Chartered Accountant for a senior financial post, ask him, “What if we ask you to head the marketing department in a year’s time?”

The answer will tell you his ability for ‘change management.’ The more a person is adaptable to change, more the benefit for both the parties.

Make an interview fun and mentally challenging, rather than just a mundane recruitment process.

If you interview a job candidate in this manner, you will understand the human mind better, and even accurately predict if the candidate were to have a successful tryst at your firm.

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.

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