During that first phone screen, it’s likely that both recruiter and interviewee go through a familiar dance. The candidate knows what kind of questions to expect, and prepares responses accordingly. Even if you come away with a good first impression, you won’t have the full picture of what that person is like in a team setting, if they are proactive about their work, or how they handle failure—all tough, but crucial, qualities to assess in an interview setting.
To get a better idea of what a candidate is really like, look beyond the resume to “soft skills”—interpersonal style, communication style, and emotional intelligence. While the computer science degree and engineering background might seem like a great fit for a product manager on paper, to really see if an individual is a fit, we must dig deeper by being more thoughtful about the questions we ask during the interview process.
Don’t be afraid to ask the quirky, more out-of-the-box questions. Google started this trend with its infamous interview brain teasers, but Bryant suggests asking more personal questions that get candidates to open up about their natural strengths, misperceptions others might have about them, and even what qualities they like most in their parents. By avoiding rehearsed answers, you can understand more about what makes someone tick.