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Critical Success Factors & The Behavioral Interview

By Warren Cook

The reality of the purpose of the interview process is too often forgotten, lost, or simply poorly understood.  The talent acquisition process is an exclusive process, not an inclusive process, that is costly, can expose your business to significant risk and liability, and often is so poorly executed that retention and high turnover are blamed on the applicants/employees versus the people executing the talent acquisition process.

Here are 4 Critical Success Factors that you should consider implementing immediately.

  1. Train everyone involved in the interview process, including the receptionist, people conducting resume screening, and anyone meeting with candidates on the Do’s and Don’ts from a legal perspective.
  2. Establish and document your talent acquisition process to ensure you execute it consistently and fairly. This enhances your ability to defend your hiring decisions.
  3. Include Human Resources, the hiring manager, and a subject matter expert in the interview process, at a minimum.
  4. Documentation, documentation, documentation. Need I say more?

What should be important to you as a hiring manager, is whether or not the applicant is qualified and capable of performing the job, and if they can demonstrate the necessary experience performing the tasks, duties, or responsibilities of the position.  Traditional interviewing techniques often take a hypothetical approach to learning about what the applicant can or will do when they work for you.  However, in my opinion, failing to understand how past human behavior in the workplace is indicative of future workplace behavior and performance will place you at a disadvantage when conducting interview.

You should not be focused on what they think or believe they can do, instead you should focus on asking questions that require the applicant to demonstrate how they have already performed the work or task in the past, even if it was at a lower level, or a transferable skill.  For example, if you were to ask an applicant “If you received a call from an irate customer, how would you handle it?” there isn’t an applicant that cannot make up a response that will be soothing to your ears and mislead you regarding their actual experience handling this situation.

The better question is to ask, “Provide a recent example of handling a call from an irate customer, and please include what steps you took to resolve the situation, who was involved, and what was the outcome.”  This is not hypothetical, it is real experience, and will give you insight far beyond the information gathered from a hypothetical question.  Master how to ask what you really need to learn about to ensure the applicant can be positioned for success in your company and you will improve retention, minimize turnover due to bad hiring, and ultimately raise the bar of your workforce.  Call me today if you would like to discuss how to achieve this for your organization.

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