All posts tagged: mistakes

5 Common Interviewing Mistakes

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The best way to solve a problem is to keep it from happening. By avoiding common mistakes, we can avert all kinds of problems including those of the hiring variety. Interviews are a frequent part of the hiring process where people make avoidable mistakes.

How most of us were taught to interview is inherently flawed. During a typical interview a job candidate is on his best behavior. He tells you the right things and shares only the best parts of his background. We get a mere glimpse of the real person. This is top reason why so many hires fail. The conversations that take place during an interview fall short of determining, with certainty, if the candidate will succeed or fail at the job.

Here are five common interviewing mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1
Picking the wrong people to interview

Some interviews shouldn’t have happened in the first place. When they do, there’s a common cause—the resume. Resumes reduce a person to a piece of paper, giving you but a peek of their true potential. Some candidates make matters worse by creating their own version of fake news when they lie or exaggerate details. Resumes are an incomplete tool for deciding who to invite for an interview.

Don’t rely solely on resumes when determining which candidates to include in your first round of interviews. In addition to having candidates submit their resume, ask them to follow simple directions and answer a few questions.

Here’s one of my favorite ways to do this.

When submitting your resume, answer the following questions. Keep each response to no more than 3 or 4 sentences.

Why does this job interest you?

Why are you looking for a job right now?

The responses can be insightful. You begin to see his knowledge of the company and the industry. You discover some of the motives driving his job search. You may learn he is happy and open to being happier. Or you may determine that he is desperate and throwing out lots of resumes so he can pay his bills. By including simple directions, you will also begin to assess his ability to follow directions.

Your questions and directions allow you to start comparing how his motives match your needs and culture. If he’s dishonest in his response, it’s likely that he’ll contradict himself later in the process. Plus, if he doesn’t follow the directions when answering your questions that’s a red flag. Following directions doesn’t get better after you hire someone.

Mistake #2
Expecting too much from a phone interview

Phone interviews are a conversation. Nothing more. During a conversation candidates do what I call the tell, sell, and swell. They tell you what they think you want to hear. They sell you on the best parts of their background. They try to swell your ego. Does this mean all of them are being dishonest? Of course not. It’s natural for candidates to position themselves in the best light. The problem with this very human behavior is that it interferes with determining if someone is worth bringing in for a face-to-face interview.

Given the limitations of conversations, phone interviews are best used only as a confirmation tool—you’re confirming he has abilities you can’t teach. These typically include effective verbal and aural communication, personality, and rapport. By focusing phone interviews on these important attributes, you’ll have short and powerful conversations that make it clear who’s worth bringing in and who’s not.

Mistake #3
Asking lots of questions during a face-to-face interview

Talking about doing work during a face-to-face interview is a waste of time. The candidate, given the opportunity, will continue his tell, sell, and swell. This creates a conceptual experience instead of providing you with an accurate reflection of whether or not he can perform well in the job.

Do this instead—have the candidate perform sample work. Work that allows you to see, hear, and experience him in action. You’ll see if he has the requisite skills, hear if he will fit in, and experience the quality of his work.

How do you set up sample work? Have candidates for sales jobs show how they sell. Let people interviewing for a supervisor role conduct a mock employee meeting. Have marketing candidates create a sample campaign. Direct accounting candidates to audit sanitized financials. By creating scenarios based upon past situations, you can let candidates try on the role while you try out their skills.

Mistake #4
Conducting face-to-face interviews alone

There’s too much for one person to see, hear, and experience during an interview. Plus, according to researchers Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, there are limits to our perception. A team approach to face-to-face interviews counters these problems.

A hiring team should have four people with complementary hiring styles (you can learn more about hiring styles in this post). All four people are present in the interview, giving you a complete picture from their unique perspectives.

Mistake #5
Overlooking a prime opportunity during a face-to-face interview

Success in most jobs happens because the employee improves over time. Improvement is initiated from feedback and coaching given by the manager. Not all hires are coachable, yet, most interviewers neglect to assess this trait.

You can assess the candidate’s coachability during a face-to-face interview. Have the candidate perform sample work. Then, provide feedback and coaching. Follow that with a second opportunity to do the sample work, watching if he applies your feedback. If he doesn’t, his coachability won’t improve once hired.

Mistake-free interviews are possible when you avoid these common errors. Instead of relying on the candidate’s tell, sell, and swell, you’ll see, hear, and experience your way to making fast and accurate hires.

Scott Wintrip5 Common Interviewing Mistakes
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Guilt-Free Leadership

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Morning Morning Message imageLeadership requires taking chances and making on-the-spot decisions. Often, leaders make the right choice. Sometimes, they blunder.

Francis made such a blunder. In rebuilding his recruiting team, he hired not just one, but two people who ended up being bad hires. Making matters worse, several people, including his boss, advised against hiring them.

Filled with guilt, he ruminated over his “stupid” mistake. This triggered the story-telling mechanisms of his brain to make up frightening yarns as to all the negative impacts this would have. Stephen King himself couldn’t have written a better tale of horror.

The good news was this only went on for a few minutes as he realized that shaming himself wasn’t solving the problem. Instead, he did the next right thing, cleaning up the mistake.

We’re all going to screw up. When this happens, we simply must accept our mistakes, fix what we can, learn what we can, and move on. Guilt is optional.

Mistakes will kill you, if you let them. They can murder serenity, decapitate self-confidence, and eviscerate self-esteem. Every mistake is an opportunity to practice guilt-free leadership.

This gives a whole new meaning to “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Scott WintripGuilt-Free Leadership
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Extreme Customer Service

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Wintrip Consulting Group : Take No PrisonersTake No Prisoners is a free weekly memo from Scott Wintrip that explores how Radical Accountability prospers companies and changes lives. Instead of taking people hostage with outdated, heavy-handed, and ineffective methods of management, measurement, and motivation, Radical Accountability focuses on creating an unwavering responsibility for getting what matters most done.

When’s the last time a customer thanked you for making a mistake? If the answer is never or rarely, your company must not be practicing Extreme Customer Service (ECS).

Last week I experienced a typical missed opportunity to deliver ECS. I had decided to try a different vendor for printing, and gave the Sir Speedy franchise in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida a shot. After agreeing on how the job would be done with the General Manager, I sent an updated version of the document. He confirmed receipt and promised completion of this small order, just 100 to start, by the next day.

Upon picking it up, I immediately noticed they had printed the older version. The GM immediately acknowledged their error, but indicated a reprint couldn’t be done until later the next day, well after when I needed it. When I suggested I go ahead and use the older version, allowing them extra time to correct their mistake, he announced I’d have to pay for the reprint if I took the bad batch with me. His only concession-a 30% discount on the reprint.

In the end, he reprinted the document and delivered it to my event early the next morning. While this got the job done, it left a negative impression, shaken trust, and the impression that collecting revenue was more important than impressing a new customer. Sir Speedy was anything but fast and accurate and instead behaved like Sir Sloppy.

Extreme Customer Service seizes mistakes as relationship building opportunities. It’s accomplished by resolving issues or mistakes in such a way that makes the customer grateful for the original problem. To do this requires collaboration with the client to create a solution that is not only about them and their needs and expectations, but also goes one step further to exceed those expectations. The result: an extremely satisfied customer who is grateful for all that transpired.

If the GM in my story had accepted my suggestion or collaborated with me to create an ECS moment, he would have won a new customer singing his praises. Instead, he lost one and became a shining example of what not to do.

Extreme Customer Service costs little and repays everyone many times over. The alternative costs dearly and returns nothing but grief.

This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Work with your leadership team to create ECS standards and practices. Roll it out the following week.


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Scott WintripExtreme Customer Service
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