Now that I have your attention…. Lets talk about hiring staff….

Believe it or not….Interviewing is a lot like making love.

Everyone thinks they are good at it – and they don’t like to be told what they are doing wrong!

Do you recognise any of these Interviewers?

Interviewer A – 

Loves interviewing people – sees himself/herself in  a great position of power – determining people’s futures sitting behind a big intimidating table, talking the whole time about themselves, how successful they are in business  with the doe eyed candidate literally shaking in their shoes, trying so carefully to say impressive things…


Interviewer B –

Walks into the interview so desperate to hire someone because the business is  falling apart under the workload that they are willing to overlook a few issues and a few flaws if they can at least spell “motel” and can start yesterday…


Interviewer C

Makes up their mind about the candidate in the first 5 seconds based on how they look, (good, bad or otherwise) and  spends the remainder of the interview rationalising the decision to themselves…

Do any of these sound familiar?

There are a large number of mistakes we can make when conducting interviews – these are three of the common garden variety mistakes and mistakes in hiring can end up being very expensive. But fear not – your interview success can be dramatically improved if you follow some simple steps…

Start with your  Job Description… (you do have one of these – right?)

The job description doesn’t need to be too elaborate and we will talk about this in future editions, but it should have 3 distinct areas

Responsibilities – what the person needs to do, daily weekly and monthly,

Behaviours – what are the basic behaviours someone needs to have to be successful in the role…(people skills, communication skills, attention to detail, organisational skills..)

Measurements – how do they know if they are performing  successfully in the job. It’s really  just a list of the key things that this person needs to be able to do to be considered successful in the job..

For a Motel Manager – the measurements  might be…

  • Close 1 out of every 3 phone enquiries
  • Achieve monthly, quarterly and  annual targets of  occupancy/vacancy
  • Successful staff management of  the assistant manager or Casuals
  • Additional revenue – upselling  

Now remember – Your role in the interview is to peel back all the layers of façade and decoration that everyone brings into an interview and discover if the person has the skills, experience and ability to perform the required job.

So the way you ask the questions is as critical as what you ask of them.

Take the first measurement above, closing telephone enquiries… you would not, for example ask the candidate to describe how they would close a sale, or whether they are good at selling over the phone. Why Not? Because it is too easy for a wily candidate to just tell you what you want to hear. Anyone can tell you what they WOULD do. You have to frame it in such a way as to force them to tell you what they DID do. This is a critical difference.

So after your initial warm up chat – putting the candidate at ease and maybe going through their resume, you move in with the big questions

 (which really is 3 questions in one…)

(Using the above measurements)

“Can you give me an example of a time in your working career when you had to sell over the telephone, what techniques you used to try and achieve the targets or results, and what were the results…?.”

This might seem fairly innocent but it is a very powerful question in the hands of a master craftsperson. What you are looking for here is the specific situation, the action that was taken and the outcomes that resulted. You as the interviewer need to be on your toes.

Do not let the candidate get away with using the word “We” – you need to know what “THEY” did – not what the team achieved. You also need to be on the watch for responses like “IN THAT SITUATION I WOULD……”. Stop them immediately and explain that you need to know what they ‘DID” do – not what they “WOULD” do. Make sure they respond to all legs of the question – describe what the context was – the action that they took – and the results…

The key premise behind this line of questioning is that previous behaviour is the best predictor of future performance. If they have done it before – there is a good chance they can do it again –

If one of the critical parts of the job is to manage difficult and demanding customers, you might frame a question like this…

“Can you recall a time when you had to deal with a particularly difficult customer, how you dealt with it, and what the outcome was?” There is no running away from this type of question, they can’t get away with generalisations, and it takes a pretty good liar to make up an intelligent sounding answer to this question…

Usually half a dozen of these questions – asked intelligently – and making sure to keep the candidate on track – will give you all the information that you need to assess if this candidate has the experience and knowledge to perform the job, and is a very effective way to sort the “Can-do’s” from the “Wannabee’s”

Richard Kellaway

General Manager

Caretakers Aust.