Friday, February 15, 2013

Behavior Based Interviewing & The Receptionist Who Didn't Want to Answer the Phone

At a prior job I participated in the interviewing process.  As a newer member of the interviewing committee, I took my cues from the savvy, seasoned veterans.  I soon learned that age or experience in interviewing is not necessarily an advantage.  If an interviewer does not do the job correctly, it does not matter how many times he interviewed applicants.  The information gleaned from a poor interview is inadequate. 

For example, one veteran interviewer would describe why it was important to arrive on time.  He would then ask, "Are you punctual?"  The applicant always responded with an enthusiastic "Yes, of course." 

I have since learned about behavior based interviewing.  I love it.  Using this technique, you ask an open question that elicits dialogue and a description of behavior.  For example, an interviewer might ask the following questions: 
*     Give me an example of how you dealt with an upset customer. 
*     How do you handle conflict with co-workers?
*     What would your current supervisor say is your greatest strength? 
*     What would be your most important function in the position? 
*     What was your most challenging work situation and how did you handle it?

You get the idea.  Each of these questions causes the applicant to respond with more than a yes or no.  It requires the applicant to give examples and describe real situations.  You will quickly see who is prepared for an interview, who has meaningful experience, and who could handle the job the best. 

Yesterday I asked an applicant for our receptionist position what work activity she would like the least if she was the successful candidate.  "Answering telephones," she responded, "because it would be very hard."  Really, an applicant for the receptionist position doesn't want to use the telephone?  Nope, she preferred working on computers.  And did she really say that she would not like hard work?  That is the message I received. 

We learned a lot from the applicant with that very simple question.  We learned that we are still looking for a receptionist -- someone who will eagerly greet our clients on the telephone or in the office, and be engaged with them. 

Give us time to recruit and train.  Then come see us.  Let us know if we hired the best person for the job. 

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