An Executive Decision
Few things can waste more valuable time and resources or cause more morale problems than mismatching the person and the job. As a busy executive, you want to get the most out of your people while protecting your investment in their training.
Good employees turn up not by magic, but good hiring practices, and smart hiring starts with smart interviewing. After you’ve asked the usual “resumé” questions (e.g., job history, education, salary expectations, etc.), probe prospects with questions that will illuminate their hopes, goals, inclinations and reservations. Consider the following suggestions:
• Tell me about yourself—all of the exciting and interesting things. Many people, even some top executives, say, “Oh, there’s nothing exciting about me,” which provides insight about their self-esteem. The response implies they consider themselves boring.
• Describe your perfect work environment. Consider both the demands of the job and the working environment. If a quiet, personable individual replies, “I love working with people, but I’d like to have my own space,” be sure that’s possible. Work areas quickly become private domains, and rightly so, or people wouldn’t take pride in them. But if the job requires sharing a table with the coffee machine, your employee may not last or perform the job well.
• Describe the worst boss you’ve had. If the interviewee’s description of the worst boss sounds similar to your personality or work ethic, then this individual probably wouldn’t be the best fit for your staff.
• What are some of your hobbies? There are many questions the law does not allow an employer to ask. For example, inquiring about a person’s marital status is prohibited. However, you may want to know something about a person’s private life to determine if the hours or job demands are going to be stressful. If you need an employee who is alert at an early hour and his or her hobby will keep him or her up late on week nights, you both may have a problem. Or if his or her hobby requires occasional time off to participate, the time to discuss the appropriateness of this is now.