Interviewing and avoiding the artful dodger!

 Oct 14, 2016

When people complain to me that it is so difficult to “get rid of” poor performing people, I often think that it is like saying that you can’t understand why the poor performing horse keeps getting to take part in the race. We allow it, and we enable it when we make poor hiring decisions.

We pay so much attention to improving our technology, as we should. We pay so much attention to improving our work standards and services, as we should. But what about our interviewing processes? We should be paying just as much attention to this as well.

Besides trying to get rid of the artful dodger, time is wasted having to manage them more closely. They seldom work independently to the standard required, and their colleagues generally carry a greater burden creating unhappiness. The artful dodger is someone with whom we are very familiar. They communicate very eloquently, usually have great personalities, and are able to blur the line between what they are individually capable of or responsible for, behind the efforts of their team.

To counter this very capable interviewee, there are three requirements that I would deem essential:

  1. A well-developed set of interview questions that have been discussed and analysed in terms of what the job requirements are;
  2. Effective training in how to conduct interviews and the interview process as a whole; and
  3. A doggedness and determination to make sure that questions are answered which reveal the individual’s personal abilities and responsibilities, preferably with concrete examples.

Typically, when asked about their attention to detail, for example, they might respond “Oh, I really think that attention to detail is important and we always check our reports before they are distributed.” While this is laudable in a general sense, it clearly gives us no indication of the interviewee’s methods for checking his/her own work.

A skilled interviewer would certainly follow up with “I’m glad that attention to detail is important to you and your team. Could you tell me how you, personally, check the details? Can you give me some examples?” This then also allows the interviewer to follow up with another question around attention to detail, which enables them to recount an event where perhaps they missed something important, and what the consequences were.

In short, recognising the artful dodger is a skill and if we can avoid employing people who are not what they claim to be, we can minimise the instances of finding ourselves in situations where we later need to “get rid of” them.

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About the Author:

Fee Hosking  

With over 24 years experience as a trainer, Fee is one of our most senior Professional Development trainers at New Horizons Sydney. With a professional background as a management consultant in the South African manufacturing industry, Fee brings credibility, experience and authenticity to all of the subjects that she trains. She has the ability to engage professionals from the junior to the senior level. Bringing great energy to the classroom, Fee ensures that the learning experience for all who attend is an enjoyable one, which in turn makes it a truly impactful one.

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