Welcome to this presentation about interviewing job candidates. I’m Dr. Larry Gard, President of Hamilton-Chase Consulting in Chicago. Roughly a third of senior executives fail to meet expectations at the two-year mark, and typically about a third of promising new hires depart within three years of being recruited. As a consulting psychologist, my goal is to help you design and conduct great interviews, so that you hire the RIGHT people, and so that you ultimately hire who you THINK you’ve hired. Selecting outstanding employees isn’t easy. Think about how many people you’ve hired or worked with who didn’t perform as expected. As an executive coach, I’m frequently asked to do remedial projects with individuals who, quite frankly, should not have been hired in the first place. In this job market with so many applicants to choose from, you need to be sure that your selection process is as top notch as the candidates you seek. Asking the right interview questions is essential, but it’s only part of the process. You’ve got to give sufficient thought to what sort of answers you ought to be listening for. And you need to understand what certain answers might be revealing about a candidate.
When you’re thinking of hiring, consider that the pool of potential job candidates forms a bell-shaped curve just like any other large group of individuals. The truly outstanding candidates at one end are usually pretty easy to spot, and the really unacceptable ones at the other end are usually easy to screen out too. The problem is, the vast majority of the people you see will be in the huge area between those two extremes. They’ll have some strengths and some limitations. Some harmless quirks and some annoying qualities. Those of us trained in the behavioral sciences have the tools and techniques to develop a clear picture of these applicants. As a psychologist I’ve interviewed thousands of people, and tested hundreds of others. My colleagues in HR are also experts at interviewing and hiring. But many job interviews are designed and conducted by people whose only training was what they themselves experienced as interviewees. And too many companies react to hiring situations as emergencies. Businesses don’t give serious enough consideration to exactly what they need in a candidate, they rely on untrained interviewers, and they make hiring decisions based on their gut – only to suffer from ongoing indigestion when they’re saddled with a poor performer. Don’t let your business make hiringmistakes. I’m going to show you how to approach hiring from a more rigorous, strategic, objective point of view.
If you want to interview and hire people who will be successful on the job, it’s helpful to start with a model for thinking about job success. This model was created by the psychologists at ASSESS Systems, headquartered in Dallas. Let’s start at the top and work down: This model suggests that people come to the table with both innate characteristics (such as their personality) and learned characteristics (such as skills). Both the innate and learned factors are important. For example, It’s one thing to have tons of knowledge and experience, but if you’re too shy to apply it or share it with colleagues, that’s going to work against you. Over time, these innate and learned characteristics combine to form competencies. For example, a person who has knowledge and is comfortable sharing it is likely to display a competency I call “Teamwork and Collaboration”. Competencies are the most important part of this model, because they form the basis for your interview questions.People who have the right competencies (or who have a good potential for developing them)will typically engage in behaviors which produce the desired outcomes. Before you decide what competencies you’re looking for, you need to focus on the bottom of the model and work your way back up. For the job in question, think about the effective outcomes you want, and the behaviors that produce them. What’s the difference between an outcome and a behavior? Outcomes can be measured, and behaviors can be observed. Here’s an example:
Think about a role or position in your company.What outcomes are expected in that job? What resultsdo outstanding performers achieve that average performers don’t?Here’s an example. Let’s say the role is customer service rep. What outcomes or results would you see from a top performer, and how will you measure their performance? Outcomes might be things like:Successfully resolves customer complaints within 24-hours, Improves customer retention rates, and so forth. Now, for each of the outcomes you’ve identified, ask yourself,What do great employees do to accomplish those outcomes.What distinguishes the behavior of outstanding performers from average performers? What specifically do they do differently?What do they not do?In this example, the behaviors might include:Assumes responsibility for getting things done, is objective fair and tactful, maintains a positive attitude, and so on.As you develop a list of behaviors for each outcome, you’ll see that the behaviors typically come together in clusters. That’s because the behaviors usually flow from competencies.Having identified the outcomes you want to see and the behaviors that lead to them, you’re now ready to think about the Competencies that you want to look for in candidates.
When you’re crafting your interview, you’ll want to come up with 6 – 8 Competencies. A competency is a set of skills, knowledge, personal characteristics and abilities needed to effectively perform in a role. Here are some examples from a large library of well-defined competencies that I use. Competencies generally fall into three groups: How the individual thinks, works, and relates with others.Why focus on competencies? Why not just come up with a list of behaviors? Two reasons: When a person possesses a competency, they tend to be able to display it across a variety of settings and circumstances. If you’re looking for someone who possesses the competency of Decisive Judgment, you probably want them to demonstrate it across the board – not just when they’re working with clients, for example. The other reason you should focus on Competencies? There are psychological tests that can determine whether or not a candidate is likely to possess a particular competency. More about that later.
Choose appropriate questions:Once you’ve determined the core competencies needed for the job, you can craft questions that target those competencies. Psychologists know that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so inquire about how the candidate has demonstrated those competencies previously. For example, if one of the core competencies is decisive judgment, a good interviewer might say “tell me about a time when you had to make a tough decision without a lot of information.”If the job requires excellent planning and organization ability, a good question might be “What’s your strategy for completing projects accurately and quickly?” or “How do you manage multiple projects and competing deadlines?” Try to develop at least two questions for each competency. This slide shows some ways to format your questions. Feel free to contact me if you need help.
When you’re actually conducting the interview here are a few things to remember:Our memories can be inaccurate, so take ample notes but do so prudently and discretely. Record both positive and negative material. Aim for middle ground with regard to eye-contact. Too little can be perceived as dismissive and disinterested; too much can be distracting and uncomfortable to the candidate. Similarly, make note of the candidate’s use of eye-contact and how it left you feeling. Try to ask open-ended questions, and avoid questions that pull only for a yes/no answer. In other words, try to avoid questions that begin with “are you, have you, will you and so forth”Don’t lead the witness. Don’t use revealing questions that prompt the candidate with clues about what you’re looking for in the interview. Beware of first impressions and the bias it creates. Both favorable and unfavorable impressions skew the selection process. Research demonstrates that people use facial appearance as a basis for interpersonal judgments after as little as 100 microseconds of exposure. Candidates will usually try to put their best foot forward, and research shows that it works. Appearance (e.g. physical attractiveness, professional attire) has the strongest influence on hiring decisions, followed by impression management (e.g. self-promotion, ingratiation), and verbal/non verbal behavior (e.g. fluent speech, smiling). Conducting an initial screening interview by telephone can help reduce this bias. It’s also important to ask each candidate the same questions in the same order.
This slide demonstrates how you would craft a question that targets the competency of planning and organization. You could ask “When you take on a new project, how do you typically get ready to tackle it?” Listen to make sure that the candidate has a thoughtful approach that’s systematic and thorough. It’s also important that the candidate seeks out information rather than expecting it to be handed to him.
So far we’ve talked about making sure that you’re asking the right questions, and knowing what you’re listening for. Another aspect of interviewing involves asking follow up questions, or probes. Here are some guidelines:You should probe if the response is unclear, vague, or insufficient. What do I mean by insufficient? If the response leaves you feeling like something has been left unsaid, it probably has.Probe when the response is inconsistent with something said earlier. Here’s an example: “I’m a little confused; you say that you like managing people but earlier you indicated that you turned down a management position.” Probe when the response doesn’t match other information. For example: “I wonder if I’ve missed something. Your described your last job differently compared to how it appeared on your resume. Can you help me reconcile the two?”There are lots of different areas you can probe. Here are three that are particularly important. When candidates tell you about things they’ve accomplished, probe in terms of Thinking, Doing, and Acting. Did the candidate come up with the idea by herself, and how did she come up with her plan? Did she actually do what she claimed? Did she carry it out independently, under the direct supervision of someone else, or as part of a team?
There’s a large body of research about lie detection that is applicable to job interviews, but the topic is much too complicated to present here. Suffice it to say, candidates aren’t always truthful. Here are some verbal indicators that they’re being less than honest.The first indicator of dishonesty is evading questions: How might someone do that?Some evade by repeating the question: “Why did I leave my last position? Well, that’s a complicated question, but I’ve got to say that I learned a lot from the experience. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I think that I can make a contribution here.” The person might evade by changing the topic: “I’ll be happy to comment on that, but to be honest I don’t really think of it as leaving my last position. I was simply ready to take on new responsibilities and that’s why I’m so excited about this opportunity.”You might think that it’s a waste of time to ask similar questions more than once during the interview, but if they pertain to an important aspect of the job this can be useful. In fact, in many psychological tests are intentionally designed this way. If the candidate provides different answers to similar questions, that can be a red flag and you might want to circle back and explore the topic with them further. Another verbal indicator of deception is when a person seems unable to commit to their own narrative. What do we mean by that? It’s when they respond using non-specific terms such as “normally, usually, sort of, kind of, basically, etc.” If you’ve asked for specific information, and their response is peppered with these non-specific fillers, this is a red flag that deserves further exploration.
After all the time spent you spend considering competencies, crafting good questions, and conducting a skillful interview, it would be a shame if you didn’t use an objective system for quantifying your impressions. This is particularly important when you have more than one person interviewing the candidate – which is often the case. This is an example of the scoring template I use, and I can help you adapt one to your interviews if you like.
I recommend adding a business-based psychological test to your selection process. It’s a great way to get additional information about candidates and it can help you make a decision if multiple interviewers can’t reach consensus on a candidate. It can also give you insights about the candidate’s developmental needs if you hire them. Will they need help adhering to deadlines? Will you need to keep an eye on how they prioritize things? Here’s a small excerpt from one of the psychological tests I use to help companies make decisions about who to hire and who to promote. It looks at the different competencies that are needed to succeed in the job, and the report spells out how the candidate’s personality works for them and against them when it comes to displaying that competency. For selection purposes, the report includes specific follow up questions that can be used in an interview based on the candidate’s test score. If you’re interested in trying the test, please contact me.
Thanks very much for watching. If you have questions or if you need assistance refining your selection process, please let me know. I’d be happy to help show you how to design and conduct a great interview!
Design and conduct a great employment interview
Design & Conduct Great InterviewsInterviewing JobCandidates?It’s more than justasking goodquestions!Larry Gard, Ph.D.President,Hamilton-Chase Consultingwww.hamiltonchaseconsulting.com312-787-9620please make sure your speakers areturned on . . . Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Interviewing Job Candidates? It’s more than just asking good questions!unacceptable outstanding The vast majority of candidates you meet will fall between the 2 ends of the spectrum Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Model for thinking about successful job performanceModel developed by ASSESS Systems Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Start by thinking about the job . . . MEASURABLE OUTCOMES: OBSERVABLE BEHAVIORS: Assumes Brings issues into Maintains a responsibility for the open positive attitude getting things done Is persistent Is objective, fair, Recovers tactful quickly from obstacles Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Examples of Competencies ConflictNegotiatio Management n Resilience Teamwork Delivering Results Decisive Adapting Judgmentto Change Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Choose Interview Questions The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior Format: Tell me about a time when you . . . How have you handled . . . When you were faced with . . . What has been your approach for dealing with . . . How do you manage . . . Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Interviewing GuidelinesUse open endedquestions:avoid . . . Don’t lead the witness:Bewareof bias: Hamilton-Chase Consulting
What to listen for Planning and Organizing: “When you take on a new project, how do you typically get ready to tackle it - what’s your approach?”Listen for: Demonstrates a reasonable plan of attack – a strategy of some sort, as opposed to a “wing it, fly by the seat of my pants” approach. Is systematic and thorough; seeks out necessary information to plan and organize self rather than expecting to be spoon- fed. Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Probe when the response: Is unclear, vague, or insufficient Is inconsistent with something said earlier Doesn’t match other information THINKING – how much initiative and decision-making capacity did the candidate demonstrate? DOING – did candidate actually do what is claimed? ACTING – did candidate act alone, under the direction of someone else, and/or with assistance from others? Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Verbal Indicators of Deception Attempts to evade questions Different answers to similar questions Inability to commit to their own narrative Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Use an objective scoring system Interview Scoring TemplateCandidate’s Name: ____________________________________________________________________ STRENGTHS AND DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS (based on ratings from prior page)Job Title: ____________________________________________________________________________ VI. Candidate’s Noteworthy StrengthsInterviewer: _______________________________________ Date: _____________________________ 1. 1 = unacceptable 2. 2 = questionable 3 = meets minimum requirements 3. 4 = good fit 5 = exceeds requirements VII. Candidate’s Most Notable Developmental Needs KEY SELECTION COMPETENCIES Ranking 1. 1 2 3 4 5 2. 3.I. Technical Requirements (from resume, references, other assessment of skills) A. Education ! ! ! ! ! VIII. Potential Deal Breaker (any significant obstacle that would prevent candidate B. Experience ! ! ! ! ! from operating effectively in our firm): C. Functional Acumen ! ! ! ! ! QUANTITATIVE RANKINGSII. Fit with Company Principles (from interview) The assumption here is that each of the five competency categories should have a minimal score of 3.5 if the candidate is to be recommended for hiring: D. Integrity ! ! ! ! ! E. Openness ! ! ! ! ! I. A+B+C > 3.5 ? yes no F. Client Focus ! ! ! ! ! 3 II. D+E+F > 3.5 ? yes noIII. Thinking-style Competencies (from Competency interviews and/or ASSESS test) 3 G. Decisive Judgment ! ! ! ! ! III. G+H > 3.5 ? yes no H. Adapting to Change ! ! ! ! ! 2 IV. I+J+K > 3.5 ? yes noIV. Working-style Competencies (from Competency interviews and/or ASSESS test) 3 I. Planning & Organizing ! ! ! ! ! V. L+M > 3.5 ? yes no 2 J. Delivering Results ! ! ! ! ! K. Resilience ! ! ! ! ! Alternate quantitative approach: If you are comfortable accepting a score below 3.5 in one of the 5 categories, you can compute an average across all 5 categories . . .V. Relating-style Competencies (from Competency interviews and/or ASSESS test) Total: Ave (I + II + III + IV + V) > 3.5? yes no L. Teamwork & Collaboration ! ! ! ! ! 5 M. Interpersonal Communication ! ! ! ! ! Overall Recommendation for Hiring: 1 2 3 4 5 Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Psychological testing: make moreinformed decisions about candidates PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT DETAIL Suzanne Example Competency based Personality Assessment Hiring Report 1/14/2011 Personality Assessment Implications for Planning and Organizing Structured Realistic Work Organization Multi-Tasking Planning and Organizing Effectively organizing and planning work according to organizational needs by defining objectives and anticipating needs and priorities. Helps · When needed, she should be willing to apply a certain amount of logical and systematic thought to the planning process. Within the limitations of her abilities and education, this should help her to conceptualize the steps needed to plan work activities. · Strongly pragmatic by nature, she will emphasize realistic goals and the development of workable plans. Hinders · In her day-to-day work activities, she is likely to be disorganized. · Her preference for the routine and working on only a few tasks at a time may interfere with her ability to plan and organize when faced with multiple, competing demands. Hamilton-Chase Consulting
Thank you for watching!Larry Gard, Ph.D.President,Hamilton-Chase Consultingdrlgard@hamiltonchaseconsulting.comwww.hamiltonchaseconsulting.com312-787-9620 Hamilton-Chase Consulting