Hiring Wisdom: Are You Telling Them What You Want to Hear?

One of the most common errors perpetrated by interview training programs is exemplified by the excerpt below from a recent trade magazine article on hiring.

A professional recruiter is quoted as saying: “Rather than ask: ‘How would you handle a busy day?’ say ‘Tell me about a time when you had a busy day and you got everything done.’ Or ‘Tell me about a time you were not able to do everything and what you did about it?’ Ask for specific examples.”

The problem is, of course, that both of these questions tell the applicant exactly what you want the answer be. (How they got everything done or managed it when they didn’t.)

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Here are two upgraded versions that will get you both more and better information:

  1. “Tell me about a time at work when you had an extra busy day.”
  2. “Tell me about a day when you were not able get everything done.”

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.