Curiosity: Why it Matters and How to Hire for It

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HR Practices

A business can’t survive in the long term without creative and curious employees. Sure, when times are good it’s easy for people to do what they’ve always done and kept things going steadily. But when troubles come calling (and they always do), it takes curious people to stretch themselves and find the solutions that will get your business over the hump.

So what’s the solution? Make curiosity a priority in the hiring process. Bring in curious people and you’ll be able to ensure a work environment that supports creative thinking and the ability to meet and solve any problems that come up along the line.

Well, how do you hire curious people? Making it a priority is a start. But it’s not enough. Let’s talk about a few concrete steps you can take in your hiring process to make sure you bring in the curious people who have what it takes to bring your business in the right direction.

Hiring Curious People

Setting the goal of hiring curious people is a good start. The trouble comes with finding them. Ask any person out on the street if they’re a curious sort of person and they’re bound to say yes. No one wants to look like they’re not a curious type.

You already know this kind of problem. It’s one of the basic problems of hiring. Getting past the image candidates try to present and finding the reality of how well they’re actually going to perform on the job.

Maybe your hiring team is already great at solving this kind of problem, and maybe they aren’t. But this is a typical kind of challenge someone who is experienced in hiring faces on a daily basis.

See, the trick here is to structure your interview questions in such a way that you’ll be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff—the truly curious people from the ones who are just faking it for the interview.

Sounds good. So let’s talk about the kinds of questions you can ask your candidates that will draw out the truly curious ones and let you cut out the ones who are just trying to land the job.

  • Interview Questions

Curious people are always learning new things, whether they’re related to work or not. So it’s a good idea to ask candidates about things they’ve learned or skills they’ve taught themselves recently. Maybe you’ll get work-related answers, like working on coding or leadership skills. Maybe you’ll have other kinds of answers, like learning a new language or practicing a new musical instrument.

The point is that genuinely curious candidates will have a real, substantive answer to this question. Wishy-washy answers are a no-go.

Another strategy is to have candidates work on a project that takes a bit of research. The amount of effort a candidate puts into the research can tell you a lot about how dedicated and genuinely curious they are. A candidate who phones it in on the research probably isn’t the candidate you want, while a candidate who goes in-depth and learns the topic deeply will likely be much better suited to the role.

  • Inviting Questions from Candidates

Aside from your own interview questions, it can be helpful to ask the candidate if they have any questions about the company or the position. You’ll be able to judge the strength of the candidate based on the quality of the questions.

Candidates who simply ask questions about hours, scheduling, etc., probably didn’t do much background research into your organization. You’re looking for the candidates who put in the effort to ask questions that show a deeper understanding of your organization and its situation. The candidates who show initiative and curiosity as candidates are the ones who will show initiative and curiosity as employees.

Asking better questions of candidates and inviting candidates to ask their own questions gives them the chance to demonstrate their curiosity in action. This is a much better way of screening candidates than simply asking them if they consider themselves to be a curious kind of person. 

  • Getting Help from a Recruiter

If you’ve tried everything and your best efforts aren’t bringing in the candidates you need, it may be time for you to talk to a recruiter you can trust. Recruiters (and especially executive recruiters) work on hiring problems day in, day out. A skilled recruiter will be able to find the candidates who have the curiosity and mixture of skills that you’re looking for.

A long term relationship with a trusted recruiter can be a tremendous benefit to you and your organization. The best candidates are curious candidates, and any recruiter worth their salt knows where to find those. If you need help bringing in the right curious candidates, consider calling in an executive recruiter today.

Author Bio

Jeffrey Audette is the President of VMG Recruiting.

With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.

You can learn more at VMGT.com or contact Jeff at jeff@vmgt.com.

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