Donald Trump on the Florida High School Shooting President Trump’s bold hypothetical statements in the aftermath of the fatal school shooting which left 17 people dead, is, as an extreme example, at the heart of what recruiters and hiring managers are often conflicted with when gauging the suitability of an employee for a role. The jumble of truth, ego, and experience can be a difficult one to dissect.
We search for clues through body language and evidence based examples to assess whether the candidate is portraying themselves accurately, or rather how they want us to perceive them. The above comments from the leader of the free world jolt us back to recruitment 101- behavioural interviewing and its importance. If the president ever found himself in such a situation he may run in, he may not. He may freeze up in fear as lot of people in shock do. He may do as the first responder did and followed the procedure and issued a code red from a safe shelter. He may have run in unarmed and tackled the shooter and saved the day. We don’t know because he has not been in that situation. And that is the danger of hypothetical comments and hypothetical interviews, the hyperbole with which we indulge ourselves without having to demonstrate it.
In the interview context we see this over and over again. That is why we introduced behavioural based interviews which require candidates to provide specific examples of where they can evidence a required capability. I am yet to interview someone for a frontline role that when you ask what is their strength does not say ‘Customer service. ‘ Yet we know this to be unequivocally untrue, as if it really were every candidate who interviewed’s strength, none of us would experience bad customer service.
I am yet to interview someone for a frontline role that when you ask what is their strength does not say ‘Customer service. ‘ Yet we know this to be unequivocally untrue, as if it really were every candidate who interviewed’s strength, none of us would experience bad customer service. From retail, to hospitality, to a phone technician for your Foxtel we are frequently exposed to poor standards of customer care, yet at their interviews I am sure they all said told the interview panel that this is their thing. So instead of asking hypothetical questions like ‘ what would you do to ensure a customer receives great service from us?’ in which the applicant could make up anything from how they would drive the customers kids to school, to giving them extra change back from the till, we instead say ‘ Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond for a customer, what did you do specifically do to ensure a positive experience?’
Past behaviour as an indicator of future performance can be a flawed measure, but it is still best predictor of what someone would do if put into that situation again. If they spoke over and were rude to the customer in their last role, they are more likely than someone who wasn’t to do it again. So if we were interviewing President Trump and he tells us he would run in to save the children against an armed madman we would say ‘Please give us an example of when you have demonstrated such bravery?’ We would look through his resume and see that he had deferred military service 5 times and ask him to explain the disparity between his comments and his previous avoidance of armed conflict. We would assess him against other candidates who did give past examples of managing crisis situations and make the decision as to who would be the most likely to be successful in such a role. Whilst we cant always get it right and some people will tell mistruths even in behavioural interviews, we can use behavioural interviewing as a reliable tool to probe into the past and cut through the rhetoric.