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To hire the right candidate, use your own interview questions

When you’re trying to build a top-class IT team, it’s tempting to ask candidates some of the standard problem-solving questions used by big players in the industry, such as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. Lots of websites list commonly used questions, and you’re sure to find super-clever brain teasers and computer science problems from these sites to help discover what your candidates are made of.

However, while these kinds of questions are great to study if you’re applying for jobs, they may not be so valuable if you’re seeking to determine who will do a great job at your organization. One reason is that because such questions are published, they’ll likely tell you mainly which candidates have been spending their time reading interview preparation websites. And remember: The further removed a question is from what a position entails, the less useful it is for determining who’s a good fit for that position. In fact, some of the companies that started the brain-teaser trend, such as Google, have reportedly ditched those kinds of questions for more behavioral-style interviews.

If you want a question to test a candidate’s problem-solving mettle, here’s another approach: Just think about the critical problems your team has been dealing with that are relevant to the position, and see if you can turn them into questions without giving away any proprietary information. For instance, let’s say you have to cut your interviews short by 4 o’clock sharp because of an urgent meeting to discuss the fact that the servers keep going down and nobody can figure out why. Frame this as a hypothetical problem to see how the candidates would go about solving it. Not only will that give you an idea of their problem-solving ability, but it might just give you more ideas for resolving your problem.

Check out our Creative Problem Solving class that’ll help get the ball rolling.

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