Ice Breakers and Home Run Interviews

Ice Breakers and Home Run Interviews

If you are an experienced hiring manager, you’re familiar with using an icebreaker to relax a candidate prior to diving into formal interview questions. Maybe there is a pastime, an alma mater, or a travel destination of mutual interest – all are great topics that can help the interview get off the ground comfortably, and will also allow you to get to know the person across the desk, on a more personal level.

Some of our clients go a step further by taking the candidate to lunch. In a more relaxed setting, you can gain further insight into the interpersonal skills of a potential employee which is key to determining whether he or she will be a culture fit.

On the flip side, we coach our candidates to always remember that every interaction in the hiring process requires professionalism. Certainly, it’s okay to loosen up and share some insight into yourself beyond your qualifications, but keep in mind what companies are really looking for in terms of culture fit and interpersonal skills. The home run interview happens when the stories you choose to share about yourself connect naturally with the soft skills the company is seeking.

Here’s a top-4 of what our clients look for beyond hard skills (often cloaked as culture fit, interpersonal skills, personality, or soft skills):

Drive: It is critical to have the ambition to help wherever you can and not be shy about learning something new or jumping on a team and lending a hand. Companies need people who want to say “yes” for the right reasons: to improve themselves and the organization they work for.

Self-awareness comes when one has conscious knowledge of one’s own personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Self-aware people are their own harshest critics and they rarely point a finger of blame. They take great pleasure from a job well done and are conscientious, self-motivated, dependable, and organized. Companies are comfortable investing in self-aware people because these people produce amazing results.

Empathy: This is the key ingredient to building relationships and trust, which lead to a winning company culture. Without real empathy, most conversations and projects in the work place end up being transactional.

Positive Attitude: There is no attribute more important. A positive attitude is a great predictor for willingness to take on new tasks and do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team. Great companies hire for attitude and select outstanding candidates for “stretch” roles that will help both the company and the candidate grow.

“The home run interview happens when the stories you choose to share about yourself connect naturally with the soft skills the company is seeking.” 


About the Author
John Compton
John has served as a Medical Device Industry Executive Recruiter, building relationships specifically in New England since 2002. He earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point, NY and is a Babson MBA. John is also a former Army Officer and US Army Ranger School Leadership Award Recipient.