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4th November 2016

How to hire top talent

by Shannon Houde

In a past article, I outlined my top five crucial skill-sets that a CSR or sustainability practitioner will need in their arsenal. Now, I’m sharing the challenging questions that really get to the heart of these competencies in a job interview context to help hiring managers sift out the gems.

If you’re looking for the best talent but finding it hard to spot, or if you are the talent but struggling to land your dream job, then read through these 5 sets of questions and consider how they could help you to find or be that chosen gem. If you’re a job seeker, take these questions one at a time and write out your answers. They will reveal a lot.

  1. Bravery and resilience: This is all about the ability to lead change in an organization, and bounce back when times get tough.
  • Tell me about a time when you were challenged to stay committed to a project.
  • How did you overcome your fear to take it to fruition?
  • When you feel uncomfortable in a situation what do you do? Give an example.
  1. Ability to balance global and local perspectives: This relates to the need to view sustainability at different scales within the organization and its markets.
  • How have you been able to deliver and measure tangible impact in a global or local context?
  • What are the challenges you see in being able to balance global and local perspectives?
  • How could we as an organization scale up to bring our local programs global?
  1. Innovative and systems thinking: This is the big picture stuff, the fitting together of the jigsaw puzzle that brings individual sustainability initiatives together into a holistic vision for the organization, the sector and the world.
  • How do you see the different elements of the sustainability agenda fitting together?
  • How will innovation help to develop a more sustainable economy or our competitive advantage?
  1. Influencing and negotiating: This is how you work with others to achieve your objectives, your interpersonal skills.
  • Give me an example of a time you had to convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?
  • What is your approach to negotiating with someone strong headed?
  • How would you go about getting diverse stakeholders on board for a new idea?
  1. Engaging others in the journey on their terms: This is all about empathy and understanding for other people’s positions, and of course communication.
  • Tell me about a time you had to gain buy-in from senior management and how you did it?
  • How would you go about getting other departments on board for an idea for sustainability?
  • What are the three key steps you would take to get others to follow you on your journey?

A sustainability lens on standard interview questions

Of course, the more standard interview questions can also reveal much about how an applicant might perform in a sustainability role. One of my favorite sources of old school interview questions and answers is this 1984 book excerpt. Not much has changed in the intervening 30 years.

Questions such as

“Tell me about yourself” and “Walk me through your resume,” remain a set-up to see if the candidate has done their homework and can make their recent career experience relevant to the role, company culture and organizational needs.

“What do you know about the company?” is another question that helps hiring managers see how well the candidate understands the organization and why they want to work there, and if their values are aligned.

“What is one question you wish I’d asked you?” can expose the scale of a job seeker’s ambitions and give insight into their blue-sky thinking. “What you do in the first 30, 60 and 90 days of this job?” can shed light onto a candidate’s strategic approach to delivering results with diplomacy. How they’ll approach the role and the internal politics is an important indicator of how they’ll fit into the existing team and be able to make progress against key performance indicators.

Preparation is the key to success. Please contact me if you need more personalised help to recruit the right people for your sustainability team or to help you prepare for an interview for your dream sustainability job.

This post was originally published on GreenBiz.com.

Photo by viganhajdari, via Pixabay

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4th November 2016

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