Truth about Interviewing
Zahira J. Coll
I have noticed an increased amount of articles about interviewing
know-how and/or employee behavior predictions. Most of
the trade shows I’ve been to in the last six months have had
a lecture on the subject, and many of the trade magazines have
published advice on how to interview, what questions to ask,
what steps to take etc. Because this is a topic dear to
my heart as a Human Resources professional and Behavioral Analyst,
I read and listen to what everyone is saying or writing on the
common thread I’ve noticed in everything that has been brought
out in the limelight lately is the lack of answers. We
are told what to ask the candidates but not the answers to be
looking for. What answers would help us determine if the
candidate is indeed the right fit for us and our business?
How do you know? How do you analyze their answers?
It is not a simple task. Things do not mean the same to
all people and if the questions we ask are not behavior driven
we will not be able to guess or predict how this person really
is. As Talent+ has proven with their research and methods;
past behavior is a prediction of future behavior. This
is the beauty and science behind behavioral interviewing techniques.
It provides you with the opportunity to predict with certain
accuracy how that person is going to behave, react and/or act
in a given situation.
have also read and heard advice on which questions to ask such
as; “If you had six months to live, what would be the most important
thing for you to do or complete?” How do you analyze their
answer if they say, “Quit my job and travel the world?” Or “Spend
all the time I have left with my husband and/or wife and/or
children and/or family?” What is the purpose of such a question,
what do you want or expect them to answer? I doubt you
will hear too many candidates saying, “Devote myself to my work
to leave everything ready when I pass on.”
popular question is, “What are your top three weaknesses?” Let’s
say the candidate responds, “I am absent minded, extremely honest
and a neat freak.” What does it mean when they actually
consider honesty and neatness weaknesses and not strengths?
What if you consider those two characteristics strengths and
they are what you are looking for? Should you still consider
this candidate even though they see them as weaknesses? Why
ask about weaknesses at all? Managing through people’s strengths
accomplishes more, increases performance, and enhances team
work and retention. It is extremely important to really understand
what the candidate’s strengths are and how those meet what you
are looking for. Great leaders surround themselves with
people that complement them, that have strengths where they
have weaknesses that are knowledgeable where they’re not; however
it takes knowing yourself very well to be able to do this.
Let’s say you are a bit absent minded and not very organized,
then my recommendation would be for you to surround yourself
with team members that are the opposite; people that are organized,
detail oriented and proud of it. If you don’t ask more
specific questions and if you do not ask for the candidate to
add to an answer or elaborate, illustrate, give examples, you
are not even beginning to scratch the surface.
behavior analysis and/or interviewing and selecting require
technical knowledge, expertise and experience. It is
not something that is learned from reading an article and/or
attending a one hour lecture. Please do not misunderstand
me, I do believe that you can learn the basics, the steps;
you can get great ideas on questions that you should ask and
even get a better comprehension of what really should take
place in an interview process by reading these articles and
attending these lectures. You can even learn the basic
legalities of how to interview without getting into legal
trouble. However, Human Resources Professionals have
devoted their careers to studying and fine tuning the skills
and technical knowledge needed to be able to interview and
analyze answers in order to make the appropriate selection.
In today’s Human Resources professional world interviewing
is increasingly becoming a scientific process with tools and
research for every characteristic you want your team members
because someone had success as a business owner and/or director
and was able to recruit and maintain a great team does not
mean that their method and/or approach will give you the same
results. As individuals we have different expectations
and we operate differently, we expect different things from
our staff and manage them very differently. When interviewing
and analyzing candidates, it is extremely important to understand
yourself first as the owner and/or Spa Director, what makes
you tick? What traits in others do you have tolerance
for, which can you not deal with? What are your operational
strengths and/or weaknesses? Do you know what you need
from others to achieve excellence in your vision, your goals?
What are the expectations you have of your staff? Do
you micromanage? Do you not want to be bothered with
the little things? Are you a big picture person?
What do you want your company to be? What kind of clientele
will you have? What work environment will you provide?
you have the answers to these questions and many more, then
you can start thinking of what to ask the candidates to figure
out how they will match with you? Are they really what
you are looking for? Will you be able to direct them
and motivate them? What are they looking for in an employer,
in a direct supervisor? Listen carefully, are you really
like the person they are describing they want to work with?
Employee selection is key to the success of the business;
it is the foundation on which your business will develop its
future success. Employees have the power of making you
or breaking you, they are a huge benefit to you and your business.
Are you giving your interviewing and selection process the
time, financial resources and dedication it needs and deserves?
you are not a massage therapist instructor you would not dream
of hiring non Massage Therapists employees and teaching them
the techniques and the skills needed to perform the job.
If you are not a Chef you would not dream of accepting a job
as a Chef or owning a Restaurant without having a Chef.
Would you? We hire experts to do these jobs because
we realize we can not be everything or know everything. Do
you want to select and hire staff members that are replicas
of you or should you be finding personalities that complement
you and fill in your weak areas? It ultimately depends on
what you really need to help you and your business achieve
start considering interviewing and selection an area in which
we need the assistance of the professionals in the field.
Do I have the resources to hire a Human Resources professional
or will I need to outsource this service? Do I need to find
an expert or a recruiting firm to do this part for me?
Whichever way you choose to do it, make sure you are indeed
acquiring the services of an expert. Check their credentials,
their references, and their track record. Did they take
the time to “interview” you, analyze you and what you expect
of your team to decide how to help you best? Are they
willing to teach you as much as possible about the process
and the results to look for? Do they completely understand
the type of business you are in? The same guidelines
you use to find a consultant to assist you in your business
should be used to find the Recruiter and/or Human Resources
Professional to assist you in your process. Credentials,
references, experience, education and most importantly do
they really get you? Do they understand what your vision
is and what you need in your staff to accomplish your business
goals? Or if you enjoy the beauty of finding the right
person, of finding that perfect fit for your company, do take
the time to study, research and learn these skills so you
are the expert in your business.
more thing: What are the answers I look for and/or recommend?
It depends! It depends on your answer to everything
I’ve said before. What are you looking for? Analyze
yourself; decide the questions and the answers that represent
the characteristics you want in your staff and the behavior
you are looking for. Avoid using too many “close-ended” questions
which will elicit a simple “yes” or “no” response. I only
recommend to use this type of questions for verification of
information or to get the ball rolling when you have a series
of questions on the same subject. Instead prepare “open-ended”
questions, they are deliberately broad in nature, have no
“correct” answer, and are designed to keep the candidate talking.
For example, rather than asking an applicant “Can you work
under pressure?” (Who would say no?), you will get a more
detailed response from “Tell me about a time when you had
to work under pressure.” Open-ended questions often
begin with “How do you…” “Tell me about…” or “What do you
think about…” When you ask open-ended questions you
get answers that give you examples of past behavior, which
will help you figure out how this candidate will behave in
similar circumstances in the future.