Tell Me What I Want To Hear

Interview Issues

Are you listening?

The interviewer sits back and takes a long, thoughtful breath, strokes her chin with her thumb and forefinger, and says, “Tell me…about a time, when you faced adversity… and how or IF you were able to overcome it.” The candidate immediately mentally rolls their eyes. Because, who, in an interview where nerves are prominent, the stage fright can be real, can actually remember a time when… and even if they did, are we certain we are about to hear the facts? SO, the candidate takes a thoughtful moment, tips his head to the side and glances upward, and literally launches into a made up story on the spot. One in which naturally, he faced a serious problem, and ultimately was the hero of the day. Because THAT is what the interviewer wants to hear after-all, no? If I am to hire a solid, worthy employee, do I want a smoke blower? Do I want them to tell me basic truths or to inflate their persona in a made up story so much that I fall for it hook, line and sinker, only to find out when employed that they are nothing like the hero they painted themselves to be. What then, do I do? Well, it is my opinion that asking questions like these and the “what are your weaknesses” are absolutely set ups for failure on all parties’ accounts. You are not getting a true representation of what this individual is about any more than they truly experienced their off the cuff scenario to make you like them and think they are the missing piece to your puzzle. Now, I do understand that there are some situations where questions of this caliber may arise, and they may even have their place somewhere…but I can’t think of many. Would anyone ever admit, “Oh, I’m actually pretty lazy!” And then ask, “Did I get the job?” We all have weaknesses that we are not proud of. And we can clue people in to them IF we creatively put a spin on it such as, “I can lose track of time if I’m not careful, but I’ve taken xyz strides to work on my time management.” That’s a noble thing to admit, and perhaps the interviewer will admire this and keep this individual in high favor… but there is a huge risk here where being honest too, can swipe one’s chance at gainful employment. In an effort to err on the safe side, we will typically hear, “I’m a perfectionist”, or some other generic garbage. So what is one to do – we cannot lie…but we run a great risk of being penalized by speaking the truth too. Let’s get real. The typical interview questions that we run into are NOT helping employers find their star employees. This is a waste of everyone’s time. We need better material. We need more creative ways to honestly get to know our candidates. Conversely, interviewers cannot forget to SELL the job! Potential’s need to sell themselves, of course, but employers have a job to do too. Sell the job, describe in detail what the job is and the expectations that go along with it. They need to talk about THEIR management style. Describe what the ideal candidate would be like, and the situations that may occur. This is fine to say to the individual, “How do you think you would handle a situation if XYZ occurred?” But remember…that its much easier to answer when not IN the situation…and beware the caped crusader swooping in to save the day. I believe that rather than grilling a candidate, there needs to be more dialogue, and questions designed to have a conversation simultaneously be a learning strategy. Clearly, if this is a sales position, and the candidate barely utters a word, they may not be the person you are looking for. Taking nerves into consideration, we can usually tell if someone has the basic personality required for a job. Interviewers need to ask candidates what their work style is (without judging them – remember, honesty is key, and perhaps you can work with a style that is alien to yours), ask candidates HOW they like to be managed – and if they learn by watching or by doing. We need to watch our employees and see where their strengths are and WORK those strengths, and develop, encourage, and work with them to find areas that fit! If we just get a bit more personal, take our time and formulate questions that are actually designed for getting to know a person, use the right methods and strategies to distinguish the right people for a job, have the right people conducting the interview in the first place… maybe the workforce would become a solid force! – provides tactics and materials.

Originally published at

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