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Great HR Phone Screen Question: What Skills In A Team Member Would Best Complement The Candidate?

I got a call from a HR person today doing a background reference check on a great individual. This individual used to work at one of our clients, but opted to move on, and now is in the last stages of signing on with a different firm for another online marketing position. The individual provided my name as a reference as we’ve known one another in the industry for several years.

The HR person asked me this question, which I’d never heard and thought was great:

If you were to put the candidate on a two-person team, what strengths would you want the other team member to have to best complement the candidate?

Asking about what would complement someone best — what a super-nice and effective way to get at someone’s less strong areas.

Putting it in that positive way — rather than the conventional “Can you describe the candidate’s weaknesses?” — got me to think and to speak more more freely.

Polite. Smart. Effective.

 

 

mountain lake in summer

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    5 Responses to “Great HR Phone Screen Question: What Skills In A Team Member Would Best Complement The Candidate?”
    1. Harry Joiner says:

      GREAT question. Very thought provoking. I shall steal this.

    2. I’ll also take that question as well. I was recently pinged for a reference check and got the standard “weaknesses” question. This way would have worked much better.

      Reminds me of one of my favorite interview questions from a scripted behavioral interview I’ve used. First, I ask the usual “strengths” question–which is only asked to set up the REAL question. The real question is “Great, now everybody has something they’re hiding. What are you hiding from me?”

      I’ve had that one question uncover more critical flaws and hidden skills than any other single question I’ve asked.

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