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Quick Tips For Doing Job Interviews

Consultant says to look for how, not just what people accomplished
InformationWeek Boardroom Journal - Oct. 2010 InformationWeek Boardroom Journal Logo
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Is Your Talent At Risk?

Most people who make hiring decisions have no training in how to conduct an interview or identify high performers, says Carol Quinn, a hiring and talent management consultant. As a result, they may be taken in by people who boast of great accomplishments but turn out to be disappointments.

There's a tendency to assume this type of person is a high performer who has lost motivation, and managers try all sorts of motivation techniques: rewards, discipline, counseling, coaching. But trying to coax better performance out of these people often proves futile, because the problem has nothing to do with the job or company, Quinn says. There are always obstacles, but high performers find ways around them. "It's the underperforming person who blames the environment," she says.

Quinn gets job candidates to talk about specific obstacles they've faced. "What they do when the going gets tough is a huge predictor of performance," she says. This sort of behavior-based interviewing is a technique several other sources for this story say they use."

We want to know not just what they've accomplished, but how they've done it," Intel's VP of human resources, Ardine Williams, says of job candidates. You want to get them talking about some of the things they've tried in the course of their careers that didn't work. "You can learn a lot about a person," she says, "if you can get them to discuss what didn't go well, and what they took away or learned from it."