Away vs. towards candidates
Many employers and recruiting professionals have a favourite interview question. I have mine too - it's simply "why are you sitting here today?". But to understand why this is my favourite question, you first need to understand the difference between away and towards candidates.
The away candidate wants to get away from a painful situation that is causing them stress or discomfort. They may be unemployed or at risk of getting fired, or the company they are working for may be struggling to remain viable. These candidates tend to look at things negatively, as they are focused on alleviating their pain. As such, they may say:
The towards candidate, on the other hand, is drawn towards something better. They are not trying to escape a painful situation, so their motivation is very different to the away candidate. These candidates focus on what they could get in a new role, and how it will make them even happier than they currently are. As such, they may say:
Interview questions to explore
I recommend asking candidates the following questions regarding the status quo, urgency and impact expectancy. From the answer they give, you will be able to establish whether you are talking to an away or a towards candidate.
An article for First Round Review details the favourite interview questions from a range of employers. Some that I found of interest include:
Why are you sitting here today?
This takes me back to my own favourite interview question - "why are you sitting here today?". The answer you receive will tell you why the candidate is looking for a new job. And from this, you will be able to establish whether they are an away or a towards candidate.
If you are considering an away candidate for your role, you should be careful if their pain is self-inflicted (e.g. poor performance). You need to ask yourself - will this pain be carried over into their new job? If the answer is yes, then you should reject them.
However, being an away candidate isn't always a negative. If the candidate is not responsible for their pain, then we can often secure them by offering the same conditions as their current role. As long as their pain is alleviated, they will likely accept the offer.
Conversely, if you are considering a towards candidate, you will need to be prepared to offer 30% more than what they already have. If you cannot offer them this, they will not accept the role. As such, towards candidates are typically more expensive to get on board.
If you think you're interviewing a towards candidate, but they are willing to accept the same conditions as they currently have, you may need to dig further. Ask probing questions to find out if there is some pain the candidate wishes to alleviate, and determine whether that pain is self-inflicted.
So, next time you prepare your list of interview questions, you should ask the candidate about their motivation. This will make it easier for you to determine whether you should make an offer of employment, and what you will need to offer the candidate to get them to say "yes".
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