Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Metrics Interview

Anne Sandberg

The “metrics interview” is just a twist on the traditional behavioural interview in that it relies upon the assumption that someone’s past performance is probably pretty indicative of they will perform in the future. Probably the most commonly employed metrics questions in an interview setting are in the sales area, where the primary measure of previous success is the volume of sales per year. However, most jobs have their own performance metrics. It is a good idea to investigate and establish how on-the-job performance will be measured in the job you are interviewing for, and to use this as a base for some predictive interview questions.

For a CEO role, the interview should focus on seeking quantitative data on growth, ROI, share value, etc. Some of the most common HR metrics are employee turnover, benefit costs per employee, and cost-per-hire. In R&D you can question the number of patents, number of development products that made it to market, time-to-market, number of designs or discoveries over a specific period of time. In manufacturing, the metrics could include: output per employee, or per square foot of utilized space, unit cost, utilization of machines, downtime and days without accident.

As an example, for a vice president of business development in the biotech industry, the critical metric might be how many licensing deals had each candidate negotiated in their previous careers?

Metrics-based questions also provide a good lead-off to a string of questions such as:
* How did you achieve this result?
* What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
* How did you overcome them?
* What part of your involvement are you most proud of?
* What would you do differently next time?
* What lessons did you learn?

One metric on its own can be misleading in isolation. What is important is successive metrics, which exemplify trends in individual performance, year after year.


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