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The Real Questions You Should Ask

Posted: August 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

 

There is an intriguing book entitled "You’re Not the Person I Hired." Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch, and Brad Remillard have written a book specifically about how to avoid hiring mistakes. It is a worthwhile read.

Every owner is guaranteed to make some mistakes when hiring; there is no sure proof method of hiring only the best people. Generally, employers want individuals who are technically competent, have initiative, get along well with others, and will work diligently in pursuit of the organization’s goals.

Owners recognize they have made a hiring mistake long before they verbalize it. To verbalize comments of this nature means the owner acknowledges a mistake has been made.

However, even more time goes by before anything is actually done to rectify or address the issue. Strangely enough, I have known more than a few owners who recognize they have the wrong person on the payroll yet do nothing to address it.

Those owners that do something about the person in question often deal with it in a passive-aggressive manner. It’s almost as if the owner lit the fuse when they came to the realization there was an issue with the performance or behavior of someone on the payroll and the fuse burned for weeks, months, even years until there was finally an explosion, usually ending in hard feelings all around.

It’s too bad that adults just can’t sit down at a table in the privacy of a closed office and talk about what should be happening, what isn’t happening and what will happen if things don’t change quickly.

Most of this can be avoided by hiring correctly, or better, in the first place. That means not hiring someone because they are breathing or only because they came recommended from a current employee. It means having a hiring process and teaching people who hire how to interview.

I believe that most interviews are usually one-way conversations where the interviewee spends their time interviewing the interviewer. It should be the other way around.

The goal of the interview should be to disqualify the interviewee. That may sound harsh but if a person seeking employment can’t answer basic questions, key to the success of the organization, additional time should not be invested in considering them. Encourage them to work at the competition.

Here are some interview questions that are hard hitting and candid, offering the opportunity for the best candidates to prove they are worth being invited back for additional interviews.

How will you help make this company money? How have you helped previous employers make money? Please give some specific examples.

In each of your previous positions, have you helped save the company money? Can you provide examples? How do you believe you can save this company money? How would you go about doing that?

How do you define arriving to work on time? In past jobs, have you shown up on time? How many times were you late at your current or last position in the last year? Do you foresee any reason why you cannot make it to work on time at this company, if we hire you?

Have you worked in a diverse environment before? Please give examples of how you get along at your current position with people who are different than you.

Please give three examples of how you have recently demonstrated initiative on the job. How have you accepted responsibility for mistakes you have made? What was the single-biggest or most costly mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

Note that not one question is about the technical skills of the job. These questions are targeted to find out if someone wants to work and earn a paycheck or be given one.

There is a war for talent and it is not going away. Avoid costly mistakes by asking the right questions to all candidates and let the most talented prove they are ready for prime time at your company.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

 

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