Tell Me About a Time…

Tell me about a time, give a specific example of, describe a situation where…These are the basics of the behavior based interview. The theory being that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. I believe this to be mostly true, but I also believe it to be incomplete and in the hands of the wrong recruiter, a dangerous tool to rely on.

Tell me about a time you were able to successfully work with someone even if you did not personally like each other.

What happens if you haven’t had a job before? Or if you worked for your best friend, or ran your own business? The quick response may be that you haven’t. Worked successfully with someone. And that becomes the bigger question. Have you not been able to successfully work with someone if you had differing opinions? Have you never worked with anyone who didn’t have the same opinions as you?  And why have you only been in situations where you were bosom buddies with everyone you had contact with? Or are you so inept at thinking out of the box that you don’t consider the difficult client, or that group project in college might fall into this category?

And what happens if you have multiple experiences? Are you just that good at adjusting to others behavior? Are you a pushover who doesn’t stand up for your own values? Or are you just that particular and difficult to work with yourself?

A collection of questions geared in this direction may help to form an overall picture of who you have been, but they lack the challenge of figuring out who you can be. Just because I have never lead a group of my peers does not mean I can’t or won’t have the ability or skill set if given the opportunity. Even if I can translate my stage management experience to project management positions, the technological pre-requisites to coordinate with actors and designers is significantly different to medical directors and clinical organizations.

Relying on the interview alone is a half-assed effort at identifying a potential candidate. Relying on the resume alone is just as meaningless. An effective recruiter is one who considers all pieces of information available, and if the information is lacking digs for more. Asks follow-up questions to get clarification. Considers the multitude of outcomes of a particular hire, and desires to hire the best possible candidate. Does not settle or allow themselves to be bullied by a hiring manager. Fights for the good candidates and fights to pass on the bad.

I just had my review. I am proud to say that my boss thinks I am an effective recruiter. Even if I can give you several examples of successful work scenarios with people I do not like.


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