My mother always said, "To end well, you must begin well." Of course, she was talking about how you separated clothes for the washing machine or how you chose vegetables at the market. But it's also true when it comes to creating a resilient, sustainable workforce. The questions you ask in the recruiting phase will help both you and a potential employee determine if you have the right fit for your organization.
Because today's work environment is one of constant change as well as one with fluid teams, the ability to deal with different people as well as respond to unique situations is paramount. Likewise, there must also be a values fit-a real fit. Values are not something posted on the wall and forgotten. Rather, values are demonstrated in every day actions. Thus, your questions must also dig deeper into how this potential employee makes decisions.
Consider these top five questions as a way of determining if this is a match made in heaven or hell. By the way, I assume you've already looked at the required technical skill base. These questions are designed to evoke behavioral responses. You might also give these questions in advance to the interviewee. They are not easy to think about on the spur of the moment. And if it is a young recruit, their life's experience might not have opened up to such encounters.
1. Describe a situation where you had to work with someone whom you didn't like or respect. How did you handle that?
2. Think of a difficult decision you had to make regarding a work (or school) situation. What criteria did you use to decide a course of action?
3. Think of a situation in which you were moving right along and then, suddenly, something happened to pull the rug from under your feet. What was that situation and what happened? What did you do?
4. Please think of the worst and the best customer/client experience you have ever had. What was it and how did you handle it?
5. Let's pretend this is your last day on earth and you are listening to people talk about you. What do you want to hear?
Bonus Question: Would you be willing, after 4 months on the job, to come back and tell me what we can do to improve either your job, a process, a procedure or a policy?
This last question is one that you dare NOT ask unless you are willing to actually call the employee, listen to her ideas seriously, and respond in a meaningful way. I firmly believe that "new eyes" in a setting can see things we might no longer see or hear.
Final point. A resilient employee is one who can grow through challenge as well as opportunity. The key word here is "grow". There might very well come a time when growth opportunities with your business are no longer available. This is where you do what you can to help them find their next growth enterprise and wish them well. Don't get caught in the trap of "I spent all this money to train them and they are gone!" If you begin well and end well, you will have a business champion for life. She can very well send you your next employee as well as bring more customers or clients to your door. And that helps you grow and sustain a resilient organization.
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