School Of Management Guide To Behavioral Interviewing

"Tell me about a time when you were on a team, and one of the members wasn't carrying his or her weight." lf this is one of the leading questions in your job interview, you could be in for a behavioral interview. Based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to determine past behavior, this style of interviewing is gaining wide acceptance among recruiters. Today, more than ever, every hiring decision is critical. Behavioral interviewing is designed to minimize personal impressions that can affect the hiring decision. By focusing on the applicant's actions and behaviors, rather than subjective impressions that can sometimes be misleading, interviewers can make more accurate hiring decisions.

Behavioral vs. Traditional Interviews
If you have training or experience with traditional interviewing techniques, you may find the behavioral interview quite different in several ways. Instead of asking how you would behave in a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you to describe how you did behave. Expect the interviewer to question and probe (think of "peeling the layers from an onion"). The interviewer will ask you to provide details, and will not allow you to theorize or generalize about several events. The interview will be a more structured process that will concentrate on areas that are important to the interviewer, rather than allowing you to concentrate on areas that you may feel are important. You may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories. Most interviewers will be taking copious notes throughout the interview. The behavioral interviewer has been trained to objectively collect and evaluate information, and works from a profile of desired behaviors that are needed for success on the job. Because the behaviors a candidate has demonstrated in previous similar positions are likely to be repeated, you will be asked to share situations in which you may or may not have exhibited these behaviors. Your answers will be tested for accuracy and consistency.

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If you are an entry-level candidate with no previous related experience, the interviewer will look for behaviors in situations similar to those of the target position: "Describe a major problem you have faced and how you dealt with it." "Give an example of when you had to work with your hands to accomplish a task or project." "What class did you like the most? What did you like about it?" Follow-up questions will test for consistency and determine if you exhibited the desired behavior in that situation: "Can you give me an example?" "What did you do?" "What did you say?" "What were you thinking?" "How did you feel? "What was your role?" "What was the result?" You will notice an absence of such questions as, "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses."

How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
Recall recent situations that show favorable behaviors or actions, especially involving course work, work experience, leadership, teamwork, initiative, planning, and customer service. Prepare short descriptions of each situation, be ready to give details if asked. Be sure each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, i.e., be ready to describe the situation, your action, and the outcome or result. Be sure the outcome or result reflects positively on you (even if the result itself was not favorable). Be honest. Don't embellish or omit any part of the story. The interviewer will find out if your story is built on a weak foundation. Be specific. Don't generalize about several events; give a detailed accounting of one event. A possible response for the question, "Tell me about a time when you were on a team and a member wasn't pulling his or her weight" might go as follows: "I had been assigned to a team to build a canoe out of concrete. One of our team members wasn't showing up for our lab sessions nor doing his assignments. I finally met with him in private, explained the frustration of the rest of the team, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He told me he was preoccupied with another class that he wasn't passing, so I found someone to help him with the other course. He not only was able to spend more time on our project, but he was also grateful to me for helping him out. We finished our project on time, and got a 'B' on it." The interviewer might then probe: "How did you feel when you confronted this person?" "Exactly what was the nature of the project?" "What was his responsibility as a team member?" "What was your role?" "At what point did you take it on yourself to confront him?" You can see it is important that you not make up or "shade" information, and why you should have a clear memory of the entire incident.

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Don't Forget the Basics
Instead of feeling anxious or threatened by the prospect of a behavioral interview, remember the essential difference between the traditional interview and the behavioral interview: The traditional interviewer may allow you to project what you might or should do in a given situation, whereas the behavioral interviewer is looking for past actions only. It will always be important to put your best foot forward and make a good impression on the interviewer with appropriate attire, good grooming, and a firm handshake and direct eye contact. There is no substitute for promptness, courtesy, preparation, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude.

General Overview
Behavioral Interviewing, also referred to as Structured Behavioral Interviewing, is by design a more systematic and standardized process of evaluating job candidates than is typical of the "traditional" interview process. Its primary intent is to increase the success rate of an organization's "good'" hires and is, therefore, the form of interview being used more often by a wide variety of recruiting organizations. Behavioral interviewing is based on the "Behavioral Consistency Principle" which essentially states that the best predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar circumstance. Therefore, the questions that are asked of you will tend to focus on behavior, and attempt to evoke how you responded to a variety of specific personal and interpersonal situations and what results occurred from your actions.

"HOW DO I KNOW WHEN I'M BEING GIVEN A BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW?"
It is quite possible that the interviewer may make you aware prior to the interview that you should expect a structured or competency-based interview. However, you shouldn't have much trouble identifying whether or not you're being given a behavioral interview even without prior information. If you hear questions that are asking you to describe or recount specific situations in which you carried out a job-relevant action, and are then asked to describe the consequence or result of your action, you know you're being behaviorally interviewed. Behavioral interviews are designed to assess your "real" ability or skill level in functioning in any number of work related activities by delving into how you functioned in your past jobs or extracurricular activities. As with any sort of interview, there are a number of common behavioral "themes" or "performance dimensions" that most recruiters are likely to be interested in. These include (but are not limited to) leadership, interpersonal, communication, multi-tasking, management and cognitive skills, Transition ability (e.g., personal flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity), motivation, decisiveness and commitment. The kinds of inquiries you'd hear from a recruiter might resemble the following: What do you estimate to be your biggest academic achievement at this point? What did you do to contribute to that achievement? Cite an example of when you were faced with an unpleasant task. How did you go about facing it? Give me the most recent example of a conflict you had with a coworker or a supervisor. How did you handle it? Describe a situation in which you had to use your communication skills in order to make an important point. Tell me about a time when you had to use a persuasive argument to help someone see things your way. How did you do it? Share with me 3

an example of an important personal goal which you set, and tell me about how you accomplished it. Have you ever had too many different tasks given to you to complete at the same time? What was your style in managing these? We've all had times when we felt overwhelmed by a project. Give me an example of when this happened to you. How did you react to the situation? Describe a situation in which you showed determination. How did you go about it? Note that each of the above examples integrates three universal components of a good behavioral inquiry: a particular performance situation or task, an action on your part, and the consequences of your action. Obviously, you'll have to be able to reflect on specific situations that you encountered while working (including volunteering and studying), then describe how you handled them and what positive results became of your efforts. With that said, it is highly critical that you first do some preparation. For any given job interview, this should begin with an analysis on your part of what you believe to be the most important skills, abilities, and personal qualities needed to successfully fulfill the various responsibilities of the job. Once identified, think carefully about any kind of "working" experience that you've ever had that required you to use these skills, what courses of action or strategies you used to accomplish the tasks, and what positive results came about from your diligence. It is often the case that an interviewer will seek a relatively high level of detail in your responses (e.g., the conversation you had, the mood of the person you were talking to, your specific thought processes at the time of action, etc.). Some behavioral questions are complex and require a multifaceted response, so take your time in constructing your answers. Don't worry about pausing during the interview to do so, as recruiters will expect you to give adequate thought to your responses. And don't be put off by the fact that the interviewer may be taking voluminous notes as you talk. It is common for recruiters to have to objectively rate you based on exacting measures of your specific responses Although some recent research has demonstrated that structured, behaviorally based interviewing can improve the likelihood of an appropriate hire by more than three times the success rate of a traditional, less structured interview, this does not mean that all organizations are using or plan to use this method in making hiring decisions. Assessing a job candidate's capability for any given position is a complex task, with great many intangible factors involved in the process. A company's decision to use one kind of interviewing format over another is due to a variety of factors which include how successful its recruiting efforts have been in the past, what kinds of recruiting strategies recruiters feel most comfortable with, organizational tradition, etc. There seems to be, however, little equivocation that when administered properly structured behavioral interviews work effectively for the companies and organizations using them. Keep in mind as well that preparing for one kind of interviewing strategy should not supplant your preparation for another kind. Traditional interviewing and behavioral interviewing do share common goals and processes (see our handout titled Traditional Interviews), so knowing how to perform in an unstructured interview is important in its own right, but is also of assistance in preparing you for a more structured behavioral interview, and vice versa. It may also be the case that an organization will give you a "hybrid" interview of sorts, with a mixture of structured and unstructured questions. Others may do a preliminary unstructured screening interview, and follow this up with a behavioral interview if you advance past the initial

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interview. In any case, given the current milieu in recruiting, it is wise that you become fully literate in the language and substance of both the behavioral and traditional interview formats. As with any interview performance, the likelihood is great that your first formal job interview will not go as well or as smoothly as your second, the second not as well or as polished as the third, etc. Play it safe and smart by practicing your interviewing skills and technique well before your first real interview. The Career Center can assist you in doing this through a mock interview. This is an opportunity for you to be formally interviewed by a career planning professional who will ask you a series of interview questions as they relate to the job you're applying for, and then assist you in both critiquing and enhancing your performance. This guide was prepared to give you some insight into behavioral interviewing and its structure. However, rather than just give you a listing of behavioral interviewing questions and criteria. This guide goes further in giving you some insight as to what the interviewer is looking for in the type of answers you provide. By reviewing each of the questions in the key performance criteria areas you get a "feel" of what an interviewer expects in an answer. Or what the interviewer is "really" asking. The guide is divided by performance criteria listed in alphabetical order: Ability to Learn Administration Attendance / Punctuality Career Ambitions Conflict Cooperation Creativity and Innovation Decision Making Dependability Employee Relations Evaluating Performance Financial Flexibility Goal Orientation Initiative Interpersonal Communication Skills Leadership Motivation Organization Organizational Relationships Planning Problem Solving Stress Writing Skills

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Interview Questions

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Ability to Learn
1. Give me an example of a situation at your previous employer when others knew more than you. How did you close the gap? The self-motivated person will close the gap by self-study and asking questions of qualified people. He or she will ask for extra help, and will work long hours to catch up. Ask specific questions to determine what the applicant did without organizational support, as well as through formal channels. 2. How do you keep up with the changes in technology (terminology, information) in your field? For many jobs, training and education are necessities. Does your applicant perceive this need? Does he or she seek knowledge through a variety of sources – for example, periodicals, books, and seminars? Follow up with questions concerning new technology or techniques in your field. Does the applicant seem aware of them and speak about them knowledgeably? 3. If you could acquire one skill or bit of job knowledge, what would it be? What do you need to do to acquire it? How can we help? The answer will reveal how the applicant evaluates his or her own skill or knowledge deficiencies. Also, you should hear how motivated he or she is to attend classes or learn through self-study. If the applicant asks for "training" make sure he or she understands the term the way you do. Does it mean outside classroom learning, self-study, on-the-job training, or in-house seminars? 4. What's the fastest you have learned something new for a job? What did you do to learn on company time? On your own time? A variant of question #1 above, this will give you an idea whether your applicant can learn quickly. Again, use follow-up questions to determine how the applicant went about learning, especially when the knowledge wasn't readily available through his or her company. 5. Which courses gave you trouble in school? Which came easily? This simple question works best for younger applicants whose school experience is still fresh. After finding the answer, a simple "Why?" question will reveal how the applicant sees his or her natural abilities and aptitudes. (Is he or she "number-oriented," or more "people-oriented?") 6. What would you expect from us to get you oriented or trained? Expectations which are not met can lead to disappointment on both sides. Probe extensively which areas the applicant wants to be trained in, how thorough he or she expects the training to be, and how formal. Of course, some applicants have no idea of what training they will need. However, it is part of your job to clarify this issue in the interview and later, upon hiring. 6

Interview Questions 7. How soon could you learn this job well enough to become productive and valuable to us? Much learning depends on confidence and commitment. Try to ascertain whether the applicant is confident about learning and, of equal importance, whether he or she is making an estimate based on experience and knowledge, or whether it is simply a guess meant to impress you.

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Interview Questions

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Administration
1. What areas are within your sphere of responsibility? How do you make sure that you know what is happening (problems, changes, etc.)? Some managers are good at setting up reporting systems – logs, meetings, regular reports, production statistics, etc. Others depend on personal visits or a few chosen advisers. Most importantly, discover how well your candidate assesses his or her responsibilities and knows (as opposed to assumes) whether the operation is functioning correctly. 2. How do you make sure that your employees are accountable? Look for two steps: first, your applicant must request very specifically what he or she wants and must attempt to negotiate a commitment with an employee. Second, the applicant must make an effort to reward good performance and halt poor or mediocre performance through quick, sure performance feedback or coaching. The good administrator knows that others will perform best if they clearly know what to expect and are held accountable for results. 3. What operating systems do you use to monitor and maintain control of your areas of accountability? Look for approaches that combine up-to-date technical approaches with common-sense. Beware of overly sophisticated systems that could not be "grafted" upon your organization. Flexibility is important. Can the candidate innovate new systems if necessary? Is he or she willing to try your organization's current methods? 4. What do you typically do when you hear of a problem in your area? Give me a current example. This question is meant to unearth whether your candidate is a "studier" or a "leaper" into problems. As an administrator, the candidate must track current problems and spot trends, determining whether problems are temporary, or indicators of deep-seated troubles. At issue here is whether the candidate can monitor an area of accountability and judge when and how to get involved. 5. How useful have you found written procedures and guidelines in helping you manage your area? An analytical, thoroughly detail-oriented candidate prefers written procedures and dislikes varying from them. He or she will usually institute written guidelines if there are none present. A more spontaneous manager dislikes all but the loosest structures, finding them generally restrictive. Try to judge the need for structure in the position the chosen candidate will manage. Do you need an innovator, an administrator, or someone who must be both?

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Interview Questions 6. Do you feel that the chain of command is important? Why? When do you feel it might inhibit organizational effectiveness?

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The chain of command comes from a traditional, military model of management. Some managers feel it stifles creative ideas and people. Others feel it gives the organization safety and stability. Listen to the applicant's answer to determine his or her frustration level with the chain of command. The administrator/manager can make it work to his or her advantage. The leader/innovator may chafe under it.

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Interview Questions

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Attendance/Punctuality
Editor's Note: Remember, your questions must not violate the ADA or the FMLA. For specific guidance concerning the ADA'S restrictions on an employer's use of disability-related inquiries, see the Appendix at the back of this manual. 1. When do you feel it is necessary to work overtime? Please give me examples from recent jobs? Answers may range from "whenever my supervisor asks," to "I never feel it is necessary." Followup to determine the reasons for their answers. For example do they have another job? A carpool? After their answer is clear, you should feel comfortable giving candidates a realistic estimate of the amount of overtime the new position might require. Ask for their reaction, and watch for signs of hidden disagreements. 2. What do you feel is a fair lateness standard to which employees should be held? For instance, should people be allowed to make up lost time? How late is really late? The lateness standard offered will give you a good feel for what to expect from the candidate on the job. Keep the conversation away from the personal What the applicant presents as "fair" will be a standard or policy which would allow him or her to avoid trouble. For example, a person may offer, "I think anything within ten minutes of starting time should be OK as long as you are allowed to make up for the time at lunch or after work." You could count on that person to regularly arrive a few minutes late in the morning. 3. In your last few jobs, what obstacles have you had to overcome to get to work on time? Candidates may tell you about their day care arrangements, car troubles, traffic or other problems. By probing, you can determine how serious the problems are, and whether they are likely to prevent good attendance and punctuality.

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Interview Questions

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Career Ambitions
1. What are you looking for in a job that you haven't had before? What would make you want to stay in a job? Center their answers on past experiences. Make sure their past experiences reflect realistic expectations. You are safest if they have more than a feeling of what they want, i.e., specific responsibilities, tasks, activities and interactions. 2. Describe the ideal work day for you. How would you spend your time? What activities applicants describe first will often be what they will value doing the most and what will attract them to the job. Generally, the activities they describe first, and with enthusiasm, will be those they are best at. 3. Ideally, what would an organization or company provide for you in terms of income progression over the next 2-3 years? The answer will reflect their confidence and drive to reach a salary level as well as their relative interest in money and raises. Avoid the "cat and mouse game" about money. Be firm that they honestly tell you their expectations before you predict how much is possible. 4. A year or eighteen months from now, what would you see yourself doing on a typical day if you got this job? Look for a realistic assessment that matches what you see them doing in about 6-9 months. If they are overly ambitious and have unrealistic ambitions, expect trouble – unless they have a real plan to get where they expect to go. As they describe what they will be doing, study their reactions. Do they seem fearful? Confident? Confused? What does this tell you about them? 5. Give me an example of when you have "outgrown" previous jobs and knew it was time to move on. How did you know it was time? This important question will reveal their values. Some applicants will talk about money, others about feeling "stuck," still others will describe what their manager or co-workers didn't have or didn't supply. Look for consistent reasons to leave each job, a lack of confusion, and confidence about the change, rather than a complaint about what was lacking. 6. At this stage of your life, what do you need to support your professional growth? Personal growth? This question will often give you information about applicants' personal lives – their families, ages, etc. Be careful to listen and probe, but don't ask illegal questions. (See page 21.)

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Interview Questions 7. What do you consider your three greatest career achievements? Why did you pick those?

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This simple question will help you discover how the applicant views his or her career. The achievements presented are quick guides to what the candidate wants out of his or her career. What does the applicant feel proud about? Money? Responsibility? Growth? Position? Learning? Note to what extent the position available offers these rewards. 8. How have your past jobs prepared you for this one? Some candidates see their careers as a steady progression, each job leading neatly to the one in front of it. Others move through their careers, surprised at the twists and turns they must negotiate. Regardless of the career path taken, a sharp-thinking applicant can assess what talents and skills he or she can bring from past experiences to apply to a new position. This question also allows you to find out how well the applicant understands what skills, knowledge and abilities are needed in the job. 9. In what areas would you like to develop further? The areas cited may be potential trouble areas, as well as opportunities for training and guidance. Follow up: "How do you see this job allowing you to develop in those ways?" 10. When have you felt most "off track" in your career progression? Why? Sometimes you can learn the most about an applicant from a job which proved to be a mistake. Why did he or she take the position (and what does this tell you about his/her values)? How did the candidate discover he or she was "off track"? What did the applicant want that he or she couldn't have?

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Interview Questions

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Conflict
1. Give me an example of a recent situation when you disagreed with someone on the job. What were your options for settling it? Why did you choose the option you did? Use the situation as an opportunity to understand the applicant's way of dealing with conflict. Ask follow-up questions to determine whether the example cited is representative. Does the applicant tend to smooth over conflicts? Withdraw completely? Compromise his or her position? Does he or she take the time and energy to hear the other person's point of view, and then attempt to find a long-lasting solution? Finally, notice how the applicant treats the emotions involved – were they discussed and acknowledged, or disregarded as not important? 2. What kinds of disagreements are you able to handle easily? Which have you been involved in which were upsetting or difficult for you? (Which was one which was not as easy to handle?) Let the applicant explain his or her strengths. Ask why he or she was able to handle those people and situations easily. Typically, the applicant will tell you what skills or traits come easily to bear upon conflict situations. Probe the difficult situation to learn more. Was it the situation (time factors, expectations, working conditions, work load, etc.) or the type of personality which made it so difficult? 3. When you've been criticized at work, how have you reacted? Who has criticized your work in a way you found comfortable? When have you felt over-criticized? It's easy to become defensive when criticized. However, this reaction is also a vehicle to improve one's performance when we can learn from the criticism. From the answers given, try to gauge the candidate's sensitivity to criticism. Is the applicant defensive about any criticism, or criticisms over a certain part of the work? Is timing an issue? Proof? Finally, does your applicant go on the counter-attack, or silently withdraw? Ask lots of questions about this issue if your candidate is inexperienced or if the manager is the critical type. 4. What should a manager do to minimize conflict at work? How much should he or she get involved in solving it? What if you were involved in the conflict? This question helps to determine the applicant's degree of maturity. Those who are more mature generally don't need or want help solving conflicts. Others look for a "dad" or "mom" to bail them out. 5. Have you ever had a situation when you found it necessary to confront someone at work? How did you handle it? Look for an assertive approach which emphasized honesty/ openness, listening, and a commitment to solving the problem, rather than to attacking the person. If possible, get the applicant to demonstrate what he or she said. Try to put yourself in the place of the other person.

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Interview Questions 6. What situations got you irritated or angry on the job? Follow-up to discuss the situations – how the applicant dealt with them and how often they occurred. 7. When (customers, vendors, co-workers, etc.) get angry at you, how do you usually react?

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This question assesses: (a) the applicant's self awareness of his or her own typical reactions and (b) his or her skills and approaches. For example, your candidate may speak softly, keep silent, or paraphrase the other person's argument. Alternately, he or she may try to provide quick answers and easily get hooked into an argument As always, you will find out the most by pursuing a reallife example. 8. Have you ever had to deal with a situation when you felt that a co-worker or manager made you look bad? Please describe how you dealt with it. Probe the example. Was the applicant justified in his or her feelings and actions? Follow-up: "Do you think competition between individuals or departments is healthy?" 9. What is the most unpopular stand you have taken in a job? Please describe. Look at your own organization to determine whether you truly tolerate unpopular stands. If the applicant had a good "cause," how did he or she deal with criticism and unresponsiveness? Listen for signs of inappropriate blaming and self-righteousness.

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Interview Questions

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Cooperation
1. What did you do to support your co-workers in your last job? Please give me a specific example of a time when you helped or supported a co-worker. Examples may range from emotional support to providing physical, psychological, or knowledge assistance. How much did the applicant offer that was not already expected? Find out why the applicant chose to offer support. Does he or she support those who are not personal friends? Was the support an aid to the organization, as well as to the individual? 2. In which of your past positions have you found it easiest to "buy in" to the management philosophy and objectives? The hardest? Some individuals give their loyalty and cooperation easily. Management has to perform very poorly for them to become uncooperative. Others expect management to earn their respect, loyalty and cooperation. By discussing the answer thoroughly, you can learn the applicant's expectations for giving loyalty and cooperation to an organization. 3. Give me an example of a time you had to take the lead with your work group to get a task done. How did you get cooperation? Can the candidate enlist the cooperation of others? Look for a knowledge of team functioning – for example, the importance of setting an example, recognizing team members' contributions, listening well, setting clear plans, goals and objectives, achieving consensus decisions, and working through conflict positively. Does the applicant's answer sound convincing? Can you imagine others following him or her confidently? 4. How do you get cooperation from other departments? (Vendors, suppliers, customers?) Give me an example. Some people are skilled at building and maintaining friendships, which later may be used to get work done. Others are creative bargainers. Does your applicant seem to have a conscious approach? Does the applicant speak positively of experiences in this regard? If so, it is a fair bet he or she can obtain cooperation when necessary. 5. Which problems do you feel are appropriate to bring to your manager? Give me an example, please, of how you usually approach a manager with a problem. This question addresses the issue of the applicant's ability to cooperate with his or her boss. Cooperative employees bring problems in with clear, documented facts. They also provide suggested solutions whenever possible. Finally, they are sensitive to issues of timing, personality and presentation of the problem (should it be in writing or presented orally?). Some applicants look at the manager as someone with whom they want to cooperate to solve problems beyond their expertise or authority.

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Interview Questions Others see the manager more as someone to be "bothered" with problems only as a last resort. Match the answer, of course, to the possible manager's problem-solving style. 6. Would you rather work on a team or on your own? This classic question is often used to evaluate an applicant's willingness to work in team settings. Try to determine, however, if the "team-oriented" individual prefers teams for a positive reason (better creativity, more spirit, more fun, higher expertise, etc.) or for a more negative reason (dependency, more anonymity, inability to set and maintain individual standards or plans). 7. What do you require from a boss?

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A simple question which may yield crucial answers. Ask lots of "why's" and "what do you mean's," and match to the management style of the future manager. 8. What is a "pet peeve" you have had about an organization or an environment you've worked in? Does the "pet peeve" seem justified? How did it affect the applicant's morale and cooperation? Is the same "pet peeve" a factor in your organization?

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Interview Questions

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Creativity and Innovation
1. Which have you preferred to work with – a set, planned day, or a day you created for yourself? Why? Often, innovative people like to "free lance" their way through a day/ preferring not to be tied down by a restricted schedule. Use follow-up questions to determine if this is a cover to hide a disorganized approach to the work day. Surprisingly, some applicants are more creative under very structured conditions because their creativity is stimulated when bordered by time pressures. Match the applicant's answers with his or her likely work day in the new position. 2. Please tell me a great idea you have seen in your field recently. Why was it unique? The idea cited will reveal something about the applicant's measuring stick for creativity. Does the example given strike you as truly creative or innovative? The idea may also tell you the kind of creative ideas you might expect from the applicant. For example, is the idea a synthesis of old approaches, or truly new? Is it a practical idea, or more abstract? 3. If you could change one thing which is inefficient at your current job, what would it be? Job innovation depends partly upon a clear-eyed assessment of traditional, routine methods. Applicants who struggle with this question or who offer trivial changes are unlikely to create innovations which save you time, money or energy. The answer should sound realistic and well organized, and the applicant should become energized when describing it; truly creative people enjoy presenting new ideas. 4. What is the most creative thing you have done in a past job? How did it occur? Find out if the creativity was in response to a demand or request from others, or whether it was self-generated. (This will help you know what the new manager should do to maximize the applicant's creativity.) If the example cited is more than a few years old, ask for a more recent example, too. Did these examples have a long-lasting impact? Did others benefit from them? How?

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Interview Questions

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Decision Making
1. At which point do you find it necessary to bring others into your decision-making process? Why? Every successful manager knows when he or she must consult or join with others to arrive at a solution. Does the applicant understand the value of securing others' commitments? Of asking for expert advice? Does the applicant typically decide first and tell others about it, or consult with others before making decisions? Watch out for managers who try to reach every decision by consensus-building – they may not take charge nor be able to make quick or unpopular decisions when necessary. 2. Describe your approach to making decisions and solving problems. Why do you do it this way? Is the applicant a careful, step-by-step analytical decision maker? Or does he or she go by the "gut feeling"? Some decisions require careful research, others creative brainstorming. Is the candidate aware of his or her own approach? Get examples of a few recent decisions and probe for why the candidate used that approach. Remember that a manager must make many quick decisions every day and live with the consequences. A candidate who hasn't evolved a successful decision-making approach will be a certain risk. 3. When you recommend something to management, what approach do you usually use? Give me a recent example. Many supervisors and managers have failed because they couldn't sell their ideas and decisions to upper management. Notice whether the candidate understands the "politics" of the situation. Probe for factors such as awareness of proper timing, whether the recommendations were in writing or presented orally, and whether the candidate was sensitive to selling benefits and meeting potential objections. Did the candidate know when to back off – and when to push? In short, does he or she know when and how to "manage upward"? 4. Give me an example of a decision you had to make quickly or under pressure. How did you approach it and how did it work out? The manager who can make sound decisions under pressure is a valuable player. Probe to discover where the pressure was coming from – was it real or imagined? If possible, find out how the candidate would have approached the situation given more time. What did he or she have to give up under pressure? Others' input? Time for reflection? Written research data? Look for a decisionmaking approach which involves taking calculated risks for clear rewards. Also, look for a candidate who accepts, even thrives upon the pressurized atmosphere of management.

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Interview Questions 5. How do you assemble relevant data to make your decisions? How do you know when you have enough data?

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Beware of the candidate who waits for "all of the data." He/she will never collect enough data, and subordinates will be frustrated waiting for a decision. Look for a candidate who delegates data collection, where possible, and sets priorities and objectives to organize the research effort. 6. Describe a recent time when you had to implement one of your decisions. What did you do? Many terrific decisions and plans rot on the vine of poor fellow-through. Look for a systematic implementation plan, with timetables and checkpoints. Notice whether subordinates are assigned the details and held accountable for them. 7. How much leeway do you give your employees to make decisions? How do you still maintain control? Good managers know how to pass decision-making to the lowest levels possible. Their egos allow them to give power to employees, but only to the extent that their subordinates can handle. Probe for specific examples of the kind of decisions allowed. Are they of major importance? Did the candidate truly support the employees while still overseeing factors such as time, budget, range of options, and others' participation? 8. What have you done to get creative solutions to problems? Be specific. Notice whether the applicant seems excited by the creative process. Get an example of a creative solution. Was it arrived at through a structured process – or through intuition? Through group brainstorming – or individual initiative? You'll want a manager who values creativity and knows how to stimulate it in others.

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Interview Questions

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Dependability
1. If we hired you, what could we count on you for without fail? Watch carefully what the applicant speaks clearly and confidently about. If applicants are unable to answer this question easily, it may mean they are unsure of their own dependability. Ask follow-up questions. For example, if the applicant says, "To give you my best every day" you might ask, "Can you give me an example of how you've demonstrated that at your last position?" Generally, the more concrete and confident his/her announced commitment, the more you can be certain of it. 2. How do you know you're doing a good job? Possible answers include, "My manager lets me know," or "The work gets out on time." These answers are indicative of applicants who are oriented to external standards. Internally motivated applicants might talk about their own standards – goals which they set for themselves over and beyond the job demands. 3. In a past job, did you ever have to alter your standards to meet your company's? When? Why? What did you do about it? Very few applicants will tell you their company's high standards were in conflict with their low ones. However, it almost surely was the case in one or more jobs. Most of us have discovered that an organization or manager demanded more than we were accustomed to producing – better, faster, more accurate results, or a new attended to service or quality. An applicant who admits his or her standards needed to be raised, and who succeeded at reaching them, is most likely an employee who can be coached and challenged to produce. An applicant who lowered his standards to meet his company's way has learned a valuable lesson; sometimes doing it "too perfectly" leads to work problems, too. However, probe to find out whether the company seemed justified and whether the applicant was, or still is, stubborn and resentful about the adjustment. He or she may have been very justified in resisting, but watch out for self-righteousness. Unless your applicant is a true superstar, it is a quality which will wear thin very quickly on the job. 4. If you were a manager here, or in your past job, what would you require of your employees? Why? The standards applicants imagine they would set for employees are not necessarily the ones they might want others to hold for them. Their answer to this question will generally indicate their highest ideal of what they feel others can produce, and therefore what they would aspire to at their best.

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Interview Questions 5. Give me an example of a time when your manager or others in your company placed excessive demands on you. What did they want? What did you do? Consider two aspects. First, what the applicant deems "excessive." Does it sound out of line? Can you imagine yourself asking for something similar? Second, how did the applicant handle it? Did he or she try to negotiate? Rise to the occasion? Sabotage? Odds are, you will also place "excessive" demands on the applicant at times on the job. It's important to understand what might happen when you do. 6. What is an example of something you've done that showed your most excellent performance? Be specific.

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This gives applicants an opportunity to "fire their best shot" Try to get an idea of the actual impact on their organization by the example they give, the time frame within which it was accomplished, and who else deemed it as excellent. 7. What did you expect of yourself in your last job? In what ways did it differ from what your manager expected of you? A variation of question #3, this one will help to elicit a clear description of the applicant's own standards. 8. What were your three most impressive tangible contributions to your company? The contributions the applicant lists unavoidably reflect his or her values and standards. For example, one of the contributions may describe volume of work, another a change in procedures or operations, still another a money-saving idea. These contributions reflect what the candidate feels proud about accomplishing, and in what areas he or she perhaps would feel confident at your organization. However, probe to uncover exactly how significant the contributions were, how the organization recognized them at the time, and what long-lasting impact they had. 9. What do you think an employee owes his/her company? If you get clichés or vague answers, such as, "To be at work every day ready to do my best" don't accept them. Ask for examples to demonstrate the generalities. Give prompters, if necessary, such as, "In the area of working hours?" "In accuracy?" "In working with others?" or "In selfdevelopment?" If you reinforce the applicant's first few statements, regardless of their content, you may then obtain some revealing answers. What the applicant feels employees owe a company usually is very similar to what you can expect the applicant to give your organization.

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Interview Questions

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10. What results were you expected to accomplish in your last job? How were they measured? Some individuals are oriented to results; they will answer this question quickly, and confidently, in a very specific way. The results they describe will be measurable, specific and clear-cut. Other applicants will answer vaguely, or blame management for being unclear regarding results. If candidates blame management, try to determine what results they set on their own. The resultsoriented persons will try to set their own standards, regardless of management's approach. 11. What are the three or four bottom line (most critical) ways you measure success in your job? What would you list for this job? The answer will reflect the applicants' orientation or values, as well as their understanding of the importance of clear goals and measures. Look for specific, easily determined measures, and an "educated guess" concerning the position applied for. In other words, assess how well the applicant sizes up "success" with minimal information about the position.

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Interview Questions

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Employee Relations
1. How have you gone about developing the people you've managed? Can you supply a current example? Typically, candidates will fall into one of three categories: first those who don't see much of a need to develop their employees and are uncomfortable with this question. (Sample answer: "I send them to training classes when they ask.") Second, those who talk about development but haven't figured out how to accomplish it. Third, those who successfully help employees develop through planning, counseling coaching, training, and delegation. The current examples cited should help you sort which category your candidate fits. 2. Have you had an employee who you successfully motivated? What did you do? How about one with whom you tried, but could not motivate? Notice whether your candidate seems to understand and use a variety of motivational techniques which are matched to the personality and values of his or her employees. For example, does your applicant speak most often about tangible motivators, such as bonuses, promotion, etc.? Or does he or she talk about increased responsibility, challenging work, positive reinforcement, participation in decision-making, etc.? Any motivational approach must consider an understanding of the employee's unique situation. Does your candidate seem to grasp this? When discussing the employee whom the applicant could not motivate; look for an example which indicates the manager sincerely tried, but has accepted gracefully the fact that a manager is only one of many motivating influences on an employee. 3. How have you helped your employees become committed to a job or to the organization? Typically, employees become committed by: acquiring job knowledge; having committed, inspiring managers; perceiving and receiving good rewards; being allowed to "own" the job and participate in decisions; and having clear expectation for performance from caring managers. Look for realistic examples which demonstrate specific actions which the candidate took. 4. How have you dealt with an "attitude" problem? Please give me a specific example. Every "attitude" problem is a behavior problem in disguise. That is, the manager labels poor performance as an attitude problem. Your candidate should give examples which indicate a willingness to listen to what is creating the attitude and at the same time a willingness to set tough guidelines for performance improvement. Managers who try to talk employees out of their attitude invariably get pulled down with their employees. Therefore, watch out for the candidate who seems to be a "counselor" or alternately, has given up on solving attitude problems.

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Interview Questions 5. How often do you think it's necessary to meet with your employees? What do you talk about? Good managers usually meet frequently with their employees, whether formally or informally. However, exceptions might include very experienced, productive employees or employees not located in the same geographical area. Some meeting topics (other than production problemsolving meetings) might include: soliciting ideas or suggestions, social talk, reviewing achievements, setting goals, assigning individual or group accountabilities, listening sessions to hear concerns or problems, and meetings to reinforce performance and share success. Look for managers who meet frequently, and talk freely and openly with their employees about a variety of topics without overemphasizing regular, scheduled "status-check" meetings. 6. How have you handled "complainers"?

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Notice whether the candidate expresses disgust or displeasure. Many "complainers" simply need more support and an open ear; they may be an untapped resource. On the other hand, make sure that your candidate, after listening thoroughly, seems comfortable setting limits on how much time and effort he or she will give to chronic complainers. Discern whether the candidate will take others’ problems on or as his or hers too readily; if so, the candidate will ultimately be an ineffective manager. 7. Give me an example of an employee you had to discipline. What was your strategy? How successful were you? The best discipline does not emphasize punishment. If your candidate seems to be comfortable setting early and clear limits for performance, find out how long he or she was willing to wait for a change, and what he or she did to increase the "risk" factor to the employee. Does the applicant seem comfortable setting tough boundaries without becoming vindictive? Does the candidate understand that employees must choose to change, and be given realistic choices? Does the candidate appear to be comfortable with the necessity to document poor performance? Finally, notice whether the applicant sincerely wanted to help the employee in question, or whether the manager was drawn into a battle of egos. 8. What sort of training do you think is necessary to offer employees? What have you done in this regard? Consider whether the candidate enjoys training and seeing employees learn. Also, consider whether the candidate assesses training needs logically. Did the candidate simply ask employees, or did he or she undertake a formal training needs assessment? Match answers against your budget and available training resources. Creative managers know training doesn't always occur in the classroom. They continually look for opportunities to upgrade employees' skills without the easy method – "send them to a training class."

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Interview Questions 9. How many employees have you had to terminate? Which was the hardest one to fire? Why? The hardest case to fire may indicate a weak area. For instance, if the example given concerns an employee who was rebellious, perhaps your candidate has trouble setting limits. If the example given describes hassles with documentation and organizational support, perhaps this indicates a lack of thoroughness and patience.

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10. Have you had to manage a personnel situation which had a potential legal impact? Please describe what your role was and what you learned from it. Managers in the '80s and '90s have had to learn to manage more defensively. Listen to the example given and try to determine whether the candidate has become so defensive that he or she has become reluctant to take needed personnel actions. Assess whether your candidate has a working knowledge of the legal issues in management and has learned how to cooperate with others – i.e., the Human Resource Department, legal counsel, etc., to take action confidently. 11. Please tell me about a recent project you had to staff. How did you go about staffing it? Why did you choose the people you chose? Listen for answers which indicate an understanding of staffing factors. For example, does the candidate speak about the project requirements, the morale issues, the time deadlines, developmental needs of the staff involved, and the amount of involvement the candidate wanted in the project? Would you feel comfortable, based on the answer given, having the candidate staff an important upcoming position or project? 12. How do you develop trust and loyalty in your employees? Developing trust and loyalty is a two-way street. The best candidates will speak about demonstrating their own trust and loyalty to their employees, and provide examples of how they have done so. These candidates usually encourage open communication and give their time and expertise to others. They genuinely respect their employees and go out of their way to help their employees advance. 13. Describe a time when you had problems getting people to work together to solve a problem or complete an assignment. What did you do? This question will help you determine whether, under pressure, your candidate is likely to become more task-oriented – that is, more directive and goal-oriented – or more relationship oriented – that is, more communicative and supportive. Did the candidate analyze the problem with the employees' help, or solve it alone? Did he or she seem to understand the root cause of the problem, or did the candidate simply apply a "band-aid" to the situation? Knowing the employees whom the candidate would manage, do you think this approach would work?

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Interview Questions 14. Do you think the "open door" policy works? How much time do you spend with your employees and what do you typically discuss? Where do you find it is best to talk to them?

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This question will help you determine whether, under pressure, your candidate is likely to become more task-oriented – that is, more directive and goal-oriented – or more relationship-oriented – that is, more communicative and supportive. 15. Describe a time when you had to intervene to solve a conflict. Why did you handle it that way? Try to understand whether you have a "problem-solver" candidate or "problem-avoider." The "problem-solver" will attempt to hear all sides and will not avoid the conflict. He or she will try to arrive at creative solutions to conflicts, and will see them as inevitable in any organization. He or she will also treat the parties to a conflict with respect and often attempt to get them to take responsibility for their behavior. Finally, he or she should not hold a grudge against the people involved.

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Interview Questions

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Evaluating Performance
1. What do you do to ensure objectivity when you evaluate others' work? Surprisingly, few managers have given this issue much thought. The applicant should express an understanding that objectivity is a fleeting goal, but an important one. Look for an applicant who has attempted to clarify job expectations and job standards with employees and who understands the importance of regular, constructive evaluations. Good evaluators also keep records to remember specific examples and situations; they know that memory is unreliable and biased. 2. What sort of performance standards have you held employees to? Were they written? How did you (could you) improve them? The manager who evaluates employees well takes the time to discuss performance standards. Be wary of applicants who feel that job standards are "unrealistic" for their kind of work. This attitude might indicate a manager who avoids the messy work of making others accountable for specific behaviors and outputs. Follow-up to determine whether their standards seem realistic, specific, fair and measurable. 3. How long does it take you to write a performance evaluation? What steps do you go through? This question will tell you whether your applicant takes this important task seriously. Does the applicant carefully assemble documentation and labor over the wording on the evaluation? Or is it a late-night slap-dash approach "just to get it over with." Look for a manager who takes an organized approach to the task, but doesn't agonize over it. (Those managers will probably be the ones who procrastinate in completing the job.) 4. How often do you evaluate your employees? The best answers will imply that evaluation is an ongoing process and that it must occur regularly. However, probe what the applicant means by "evaluation." Does the applicant put it in writing? Does it occur in a regularly scheduled meeting, or as the need arises? Does it cover areas for improvement, as well as positive performance areas? 5. How have you involved your employees in their evaluation? Notice whether your applicant seems surprised by the question – many managers are unaware that the best evaluations include active employee participation. If your applicant doesn't take steps to get the employee involved, he or she may be more aligned with the role of a "judge" in the evaluation process, rather than a "coach." The result may be less objective evaluations and, more importantly, employees who feel estranged from their own manager.

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Interview Questions 6. How have you evaluated your department's overall performance?

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This question will help determine the applicant's ability to plan, monitor, and assess the factors he or she must be responsible for. Look for an orientation to clear production standards and specific, measurable goals. Notice whether the applicant has developed a reporting system and whether he or she has a handle on the department's performance at various intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). 7. When you evaluate someone's performance verbally, what approach have you taken? What if they were exceptionally good? Marginal? This question gets at some important issues. Is the candidate supportive? Is he or she tough enough to pressure the marginal employee, but compassionate enough to understand an employee's circumstances? For those employees who are exceptionally good, does the candidate know how to give positive feedback and supply new challenges? Does the candidate "sugar coat" negative criticism or face it squarely? Finally, how organized is the candidate When he or she evaluates work? Does the candidate seem to weigh comments thoroughly, or "shoot from the hip"? 8. How have you planned for performance improvements? Evaluating performance isn't enough. A good manager must plan and monitor improvements in performance. Look for an approach which emphasizes specific, measurable goals for improvement which are set collaboratively with the employee. Look also for a candidate who is optimistic about the possibility of performance improvement; this positive attitude will inspire improvement in others. 9. What should a performance evaluation system or form look like? Does it matter? Every manager has an opinion about the "right" form. Ultimately, it doesn't matter which form is used. What is more important is that your candidate can use any form. A good manager knows that evaluating employees is more important than the form; he or she will use what is available and do the homework necessary to write and talk about performance objectively. 10. How have you measured performance in your area? Standards for performance are useless unless they can be measured. Notice whether the candidate speaks confidently and comfortably about measurement. If he or she seems tentative, you can bet the employees will feel that way, too, about what is expected of them. A good manager knows and feels comfortable with "behavioral" standards as well as quantitative ones.

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Interview Questions

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Financial
1. What responsibility do you have for budgeting? What budgeting method do you use? This question establishes whether the candidate speaks knowledgeably and confidently about the budgetary responsibility. Some managers view it as an annual headache and others are aware of it as an important management tool. Try to gauge the sophistication of the candidate's methods by asking follow-up question. 2. How could your organization's budgeter process be improved? Most organizations have a budgetary process in place. Does the candidate simply accept it, or can he or she suggest modifications? Be sure to distinguish between complaints and realistic improvements. Watch out for the candidate who is unaware of others' time and financial commitments and who complains of too much "pressure." His/her idea of "pressure" may be what others call organizational reality. 3. How do you go about estimating expenses and budgets? Successful managers have worked out a sound method which reflects the realities of their unique situation. Probe to uncover how sophisticated the method is and how it has been adapted through time. 4. Give me an example of something you did which saved money for your organization. Few managers initiate cost-cutting or money-saving ideas. Uncover whether the action was in response to an external pressure – for example, a management demand. Next, find out what was truly an original idea and what ideas came from others (an employee, for example). Finally, determine how the candidate monitored and measured the savings, and whether the impact was truly significant. 5. What recent decision have you made that had an impact on finances? How did you assess its impact? The example named may be significant. This question will help you discover if the applicant is oriented to making decisions that save money. A hesitation or inability to answer may be a tipoff that he or she doesn't have an orientation to the financial aspect of management.

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Interview Questions

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Flexibility
1. Please give me an example of a time when management would not allow you to take a necessary action, even though you felt it was necessary to do so. (For example, a change in work procedures.) Does the applicant speak about the situation with anger? Resignation? Find out if the applicant resisted management – if so, was it appropriately assertive without being derisive or divisive? 2. Have you worked in an organization which changed its policies or procedures frequently? How did you deal with that? Look for the person who, while not necessarily pleased with the changes, accepted them and tried to make them work. Ask also if he or she tried to find out the reason for the changes. If the applicant expresses anger or disgust with the changes, you will need to assess whether this demonstrates unwarranted impatience or inflexibility. 3. Give me an example of a time when you were given tasks to accomplish without advance warning. After you have clearly understood the example, find out how quickly the applicant accepted the changes and tried to understand the reasons for them. 4. Have you ever had to make a decision before you had all the data you wanted? Give me an example. What did you do? When the applicant was faced with a quick decision and insufficient data, how did he or she react? Notice whether this common situation seems to make the applicant uncomfortable. 5. Has a policy or directive come down with which you really disagreed? What was it? What did you do? If the applicant experienced this situation, he or she had many options. Among them: ask management for the reasons and argue his or her case; accept the directive quietly and smolder silently; engage in sabotage, overtly or covertly; find co-workers who also disagree and organize a protest; leave the organization. How did the applicant react, and what does this tell you about his or her flexibility? 6. How much stability would you like in terms of a fixed job description? How much have you had at other organizations? Jobs change and evolve in most organizations. Can the applicant be flexible enough to change with the position? Look for signs of resistance and a need for overly secure job duties which might impede needed changes and additions to the job duties.

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Interview Questions

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Goal Orientation
1. Please describe how you set and measure your work goals. Is the applicant results-oriented? Determine how detailed the goals are and whether they seem realisms, measurable and specific. The extremely goal-oriented candidates set their goals without waiting for others to instruct them. In fact they usually set goals for non-work activities as well. Does the candidate fit this profile? 2. Have you ever been held accountable for reaching a goal that you knew wasn't possible to attain? What did you do? For goal-oriented persons, this situation will be almost intolerable. They will relate how hard they fought to overcome the situation, and will speak about what they were able to accomplish anyway. For others who are not goal-oriented, they may speak about being unfairly treated, but their primary regret will not be that they were unable to achieve a goal. , 3. Do you think MBO works? How do you adjust to working under a goal setting program? MB0, Management By Objectives, requires much planning, discussing, monitoring and adjusting of goals and objectives to succeed. The very goal-oriented applicants should adjust easily to it and will help make it a success. Others may feel it is restrictive, unrealistic for certain jobs and leads to quotas. Most important, they are uncomfortable with the accountability that MB0 forces. 4. Describe which job and which manager got the most out of your potential. What made that situation so productive? This question allows applicants to tell you how they like to be managed, and which activities make them feel productive. Highly goal-oriented individuals may speak of being given procedures, goals, measuring tools, regular updates, and accountability with enough authority.

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Interview Questions

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Initiative
1. What ideas have you sold to management in the past? Why? What happened? Examine two aspects of the answer. First, did the idea seem worth selling? Second, notice whether the applicant took extra steps to demonstrate the idea's practicality, profitability or efficiency. Did he or she wait to be discovered? Or did he or she assertively put forth a solid idea? 2. Give me an example of something you recommended which was not adopted. Why? What could you have done differently? A variation on the question above this one gives the applicant a chance to tell you what he or she has learned about timing, research, politics or other factors necessary to consider when selling an idea. . 3. If you were a manager, how much leeway would you give your employees to do things their way? In which areas or situations should an employee simply follow procedures and guidelines and not try it his or her own way? The way the applicant answers this question will describe his or her tendencies and desires to strike out independently. Listen to the areas in which the applicant would likely take risks. Probe the answer carefully; the "employee" described here is, of course, the applicant. 4. What ways have you found to make your job easier or more interesting? Most jobs can be improved somewhat. Notice whether the answer demonstrates making the job "easier." Did it make the job easier for management, as well as for the employee? Were the actions taken completely self-directed, or did they require prodding from management? 5. Give me an example of a project you were responsible for starting. What did you do? How did it work out? Probe to uncover how the applicant conceived of the goals and obstacles involved in the project, and whether he or she demonstrated planning and organizing effort at the project's inception. Did the applicant plunge right in, or test the waters carefully first? Does he or she seem to enjoy initiating projects such as the one described? 6. How much information do you need to get started on a new project or assignment? Ask for a specific, recent example to illustrate the answer. The truly self-initiating person enjoys receiving only minimal information; he or she thrills at the challenge of working through the details independently. A person with a high degree of initiative usually gets impatient waiting to begin the next assignment.

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Interview Questions 7. When have you had to produce results without sufficient guidelines or information? What did you do?

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Faced with an ambiguous situation, the person with a high degree of initiative is unafraid to act. He or she boldly collects what information is possible and strides forward purposefully. He or she declares goals and objectives, enlists support from others and begins the first step with a minimum of complaints. Look for a pattern of confident, creative activity which produced results in a difficult situation.

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Interview Questions

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Interpersonal Communication Skills
1. What sorts of things do you feel are important for an employee to share with a manager? And vice versa? First, you will want to understand the manager who will be communicating with the person to be hired. What does he or she want to share and want to hear? Match the applicant's answers. Does the expectation involve inappropriate guidance, counseling, gossip, etc.? 2. Give me an example of the kind of co-worker (manager, customer, etc.) whom you find difficult to communicate with. Why? The personality type or individual described will point to areas in the applicant's make-up where he or she may need to change. For example, if very aggressive people bother him or her, you will want to evaluate the applicant's toughness and assertiveness. In addition, you will need to discuss typical personalities he or she will have to deal with in the position, and find out the applicant's reaction to them. 3. When, in a past job, did you find it important to disagree with your boss? How did you approach him or her and what was the result? Assertive people see disagreement as healthy, even vital to success. If he or she seems unafraid of open disagreement, genuinely refuses to blame, and tries to solve the problem constructively, you can assume the applicant is assertive. If the applicant expresses dislike of open disagreement, he or she may be more passive. And if he or she attempts to win (and make the boss lose), you have an overly aggressive person. 4. What kind of performance feedback do you want and how often would you like it? Open communication is a two-way street. The employee must be willing to hear criticism and even ask for it on occasion. Follow-up: "What are some negative criticisms and what are some of the positive things you have heard from managers?" Ask also how the applicant feels about negative performance feedback; when and how does he or she want to hear it? 5. Name one recent success you've had in dealing with (a patient, vendor, customer, etc.). How did you accomplish it? In describing their success, applicants will usually describe how they view themselves in relation to others. ("I was really just trying to help her," or, "I kept my cool no matter what he said"). This question will help you determine how self-aware the applicant is, and in part, what he or she feels "success" in interpersonal relations is.

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Interview Questions 6. How do you persuade others to get what you want? Can the applicant reflect on his or her own skills and inadequacies in persuasion? Most positions require this skill to some degree. Does the applicant know how to listen to other's needs and vary his or her approach accordingly? 7. Can you describe the person or people you got along with best at XYZ Company?

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A variation of question 2 above. What does the answer tell you about the applicant's requirements for friendship or close working relationships? Do these implied criteria seem to be met in your organization? For example, an applicant who says, "I get along with people who just do the job and don't chatter a lot" could be unhappy in an extremely personal, "chatty" environment. 8. What have been your least successful relationships at work? What did you do to try to create a better relationship? Another variation of question 2, this one focuses on the applicant's willingness and skill at mending relationships at work. Probe to uncover whether the applicant made an honest attempt to adjust his or her style to make the relationship work. 9. What role do you usually take in a group meeting or discussion? What are the advantages of that? Disadvantages? You should get surprisingly honest answers to this question. Assure the applicant that there is no "right" answer. Listen well and you should get a good picture of the typical pattern of behavior in a group situation. Follow-up: "How do you change when the group is composed of people you don't know well?" 10. What does the "open door" policy mean to you? Do you think it works? The "open door" means one thing to managers and another to employees. Does your applicant seem to want total availability? To be able to get appointments or meetings with the boss? Again, match the applicant's need with the manager's openness and availability. 11. When you have started new jobs, how have you established good relationships with your new co-workers? With management? Many applicants will look at this as an extremely important part of their job. They know that future productivity depends upon good relationships. Probe particularly how they have done this with management. Are you convinced? Do they seem to understand what management expects from an employee (dependability, punctuality, flexibility, etc.)?

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Interview Questions 12. What would you do if a co-worker made a derogatory comment about another coworker's race or religion? This question will elicit information about the applicant's sensitivity to discrimination issues. A company can avoid many sexual and other harassment incidents by asking pointed questions of applicants and not hiring those who show lack of mature judgment.

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Interview Questions

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Leadership
1. How have you persuaded your employees (or others) to follow you? This broad question allows the applicant to reflect on his or her leadership. Managers may talk about their ability to set goals and direction, or to include others in decisions, or to lead by example. Whatever they volunteer, probe by asking, "Give me an example of how you actually did that." Look for a strong, confident answer and nonce whether you could be persuaded to follow him or her. 2. How have you used power or authority to get what you want done? The real leader is not afraid to use power – he or she knows, however, that others dislike being made to follow, and that they also want to feel powerful. Look for answers which indicate an easy acceptance, even enjoyment, of the uses of power and influence, yet a healthy respect for others' abilities and their mutual goals. In other words, make sure that your candidate enjoys using power but uses it for unselfish purposes. 3. Give me an example of how you delegated responsibility for a recent assignment; for instance, whom you chose, what and how you delegated the assignment, and what you did to monitor it. Delegation is a fundamental part of management. Surprisingly, few managers think about it logically. For example, how many really think about how to best prepare a job before delegating it, or what would be the most logical way to explain its details? By pursuing questions about a recent delegation, you'll learn a good bit about how the candidate assesses employee skill levels, his or her awareness of communication principles, training, planning of assignments, and his or her ability to follow through and monitor. Notice whether the applicant cares about developing and teaching employees through delegation, and what kinds of assignments he or she refuses to delegate. Ask how much detail the applicant usually provides when delegating; it should vary according to employees' experience and maturity. 4. How would you describe your management style? How would your employees describe your management style? Undoubtedly, the applicant will describe his or her style in complimentary terms. However, some probing follow-up questions are in order. For example, you might ask about his or her style in dealing with conflict situations, running meetings, setting goals (how many, in what areas, how monitored), and structuring activities and assignments for subordinates. Don't accept general terms used to describe the style, such as "participative" or "hard-driving." Ask for examples which illustrate the style.

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Interview Questions 5. What was the style of the best manager you have worked for? What did you learn and begin using from that person's approach?

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This question will help determine what the applicant sets as a model; his or her idea of a "correct" approach to management. lf you can get a clear picture of the model, it will help you learn areas in which the applicant is likely to be effective, and areas in which he or she will want to become more effective. 6. What do you enjoy most about being a manager? Least? According to recent research, effective managers are comfortable exercising authority. They enjoy being leaders, enthusiastically projecting a sense of excitement to employees. Furthermore, they are ready to take decisive action, expect to be asked for direction, and make decisions which may appear to others to be unconventional. Finally, they appear to be strongly focused on delegation – that is, they recognize the importance of getting subordinates to do the work rather than themselves, and they see this as a major, enjoyable part of their role as a manager. If your applicant expresses some or all of these factors, your chances of hiring a winner will increase significantly. 7. What type of employees do you find hardest to manage? Why? The employees whom the applicant finds hardest to manage most likely indicate areas which are available for his or her growth and development as a manager. For example, some applicants state they find it hardest to manage quiet, non-assertive employees. If so, perhaps they need to learn how to slow down, listen and coach and counsel subordinates. Others indicate they have more trouble with louder, rebellious, power-seeking employees. This suggests a need to learn skills in discipline and conflict resolution. 8. What have you learned about management since your first supervisory job? The old saying, "experience is the best teacher" is usually true. However, it is only true if people take the time for reflection and introspection. Some managers only learn how to do the same (wrong) things more frequently! Others learn from mistakes, or problems on the job, and gradually acquire important new skills. Push your applicant a little to supply the specific experiences which illustrate the way he or she handled something in the past versus the current approach.

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Interview Questions

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Motivation
1. What has made you feel excited about coming to work? When have you felt "down" or unfulfilled by a job? Probe for clear examples. Find out whether factors were involved which were unique to past jobs. Make sure the "excitement" can be generated again by factors within your current control. 2. In all of your jobs, which gave you the most meaningful experiences? Why? Ask follow-up questions to determine why they were meaningful. Look for experiences that are available through the position you are filling. 3. What do you need from an organization to feel motivated? Get specific answers, which might include: working conditions, benefits, supervision, training, salary, raises and organizational culture. (Some organizations inhibit real motivation in all but the most internally-motivated.) 4. Why did you choose this profession? What rewards does it give you? Why do you stay in it? Look for a feeling of pride in work, of "That's what I'm best at!" Watch out for a feeling of resignation, of being at a dead end. 5. What should a manager do to motivate others? Why does it sometimes fail? This question can be used to interview supervisors and managers, as well as others. For the nonmanagement employee, it will often reveal the extent to which applicants are self-directed as opposed to those who wait for others to motivate them. When the applicant tells you what the manager should do, he or she is, most likely, telling you what he or she wants. The manager's efforts sometimes fail because ultimately, each employee must motivate himself or herself, and many factors are beyond the manager's control. Does your applicant understand this? Does he or she take some responsibility for motivation? 6. When has your morale been the highest at work? Why? The answer should reveal what will motivate the candidate. If the applicant discusses wages, benefits and a "steady" job situation, security is the candidate's biggest concern. If the applicant discusses situations when others recognized his or her work and he or she received status or position, your applicant may need a good bit of help with self esteem. If the applicant recalls times working among talented, friendly people, you will be able to motivate him or her best through peer pressure and the "team" concept. Finally, if the candidate speaks about work that was challenging and that provided growth, learning and increased responsibility, he or she must have been motivated through an interesting job well-suited to his or her talents.

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Interview Questions Obviously, you must determine if the job available matches the motivational need revealed. 7. Have you ever worked for or with someone who was highly motivated? In what ways are you like that person? Different? You should receive a surprisingly honest answer to this question. Most applicants open up when describing someone else. Importantly, this question will help you determine what you cannot expect from the candidate if he or she is hired. 8. What is your definition of success? Follow-up: How are you measuring up? How will you go about achieving that goal?

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The definition stated must be matched to the position available. For example, if the answer puts success in terms of power, money, prestige or influence, the applicant will not be happy for long in most low-paying, non-exempt positions. Try to discover how the job applied for will lead the applicant to his or her success goals. If he or she is unclear about this, the candidate will be unlikely to become a long-term, happy employee of your organization.

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Interview Questions

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Organization, Attention to Detail and Time Usage
1. How do you feel a meeting should be organized to be most effective? Give me an example of one you've attended or that worked well. This question will often unearth the applicant's awareness of details. A detail-oriented person might describe the seating, the agenda, the roles various people took, planning before the meeting, and a meeting that started and ended punctually. 2. When your past managers have given you projects to do, how much information and direction did they usually give you? Give me an example of what seemed to be the right amount for you. Applicants who are especially detail-oriented must be given lots of direction and data when a manager delegates to them. They are uncomfortable with managers who are oriented only to the "big picture," unless they are given time to do a job well in an atmosphere of trust. This question will also unearth an applicant's confidence and ability to take initiative with new projects. 3. Would you rather formulate a plan or carry it out? Why? Give me an example of a plan you have implemented. Some people are "doers" – they like to be given a task to do and they'll make it happen. They are often detail-oriented. Others see the big picture – they are comfortable strategizing the result and assigning resources to the project, but less effective at doing follow-through on the specific tasks to make it a success. Only a few people can truly succeed at both planning and executing the plan. If applicants tell you they like to control both planning and execution, get specific examples of how they have gone about it. Probe for their ability to draw help from others, to delegate necessary tasks, monitor the results and follow through. If the applicant is a manager, find out the degree to which he or she is willing to give others authority to make decisions. 4. What is the most irritating part of your current job – the part you might wish you could delegate to someone else? Why? Applicants often mention paperwork requirements of past jobs. What they would like to "give away" is what they typically will avoid doing for you when they have to make a choice. 5. Have you ever had an experience when you were responsible for coordinating several small tasks to accomplish a large job? Please give me an example. This question is a good lead-in to discussing the applicant's organizational methods. Find out whether the applicant set up internal controls, such as "tickler files," internal deadlines and interim meetings. If the job involved coordinating with people in other departments, determine how the applicant obtained agreements and held others to their time and quality commitments.

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Interview Questions 6. Do you like to juggle a lot of activities at once or do them one at a time? People who juggle a lot of tasks at once usually like variety and diversity. They will not be comfortable in linear, routine jobs. If your position requires the ability to juggle priorities and be flexible, it may be a good match. However, this sort of applicant may tackle too many projects to get them all completed, and may be easily interrupted. 7. How do you keep track of your own paperwork, schedules, etc? Please be specific.

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It doesn't matter a great deal how applicants keep track; what's important is that they have established their own workable approach and sound confident of its success. Of course, you'll have to judge if their systems will add to or detract from the ones you presently have in place. 8. In your last job, if something wasn't due for several weeks, when and how did you approach getting it done? Perfectionists typically will be uncomfortable waiting to begin a project. They will begin work early so it can be done "right." Other applicant will wait until they "really need to do it." 9. Do you typically write memos to others or do you usually deliver messages on the phone or in person? Those who would rather see people in person or talk to them on the telephone are most at home in the realm of ideas. They may not take the time to do the detail work necessary to fully complete some jobs. Those who would rather write memos often prefer a structured, detailed approach to the work. You can count on them to communicate all the information and to document their efforts. They will do the job "right" if it contains a lot of details. 10. Describe how you handled the details of your last major project. Note the extent of detail in the answer, and whether the applicant had a system to monitor the project which prevented details from being lost. Did the applicant depend on others to handle details? Did he or she track details with the computer? Write extensive documentation? 11. Describe a busy day at your last job. How do you organize a day like that? First, see whether the busy day actually sounds busy to you. Next, see how excitedly or readily the applicant volunteers the answer. Those who are well-organized will usually be pleased to share their systems with you. 12. Where do you waste most of your time (when you do)? Accept almost any answer if the applicant seems honest and forthright. The truth is, we all waste time. However some individuals know how to minimize the time wasted and consciously try to improve their time usage. In addition, look for an applicant who seems comfortable with his or her productivity regardless of occasional time wasters.

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Interview Questions

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13. Describe a way you have improved the organization of a system or task at your last/present job. Applicants who are well-organized often look for ways to improve upon old procedures and system. If so, he or she will volunteer examples quickly. 14. What did you do the day before yesterday? This is an old-fashioned interview question which may or may not yield reliable data. Some believe that well-organized people can easily remember and that others will not. 15. How do you decide what you should work on next? Those who are not well-organized often have no idea what they will do next. They may "hop" from one demand to another, or do whatever catches their eye next. Well-organized applicants set priorities according to an orderly system and allow for normal interruptions. 16. How do you monitor things which need your attention? This is a general question which should help you understand your applicant's ability and experience at setting up reporting systems. Does he or she depend on a set, organized approach to monitor needed items? Does he or she seem to have a good grasp of which items need attention?

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Interview Questions

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Organizational Relationships
1. Describe a time when "politics" at work affected your job. How did you deal with it? Two issues should concern you. First, can the candidate "read" and understand the norms or politics of an organization? Can he or she "play the game"? Second, will the candidate accept the political situation in your organization? Probe for an understanding of both issues. Notice whether the candidate seems excessively bothered by the situation. Does it seem that terrible to you? Your best candidate is one who can endure political storms and remain relatively dry. 2. Describe a time when you had to "sell" a decision or policy to your employees when you didn't agree with it. Every manager must sell policies or decisions at times. Can the candidate put personal reservations aside and speak positively to his or her group? The effective manager voices disagreement behind closed doors, refuses to sabotage management decisions, and accurately reports the effectiveness of the policy or decision after it is implemented. 3. What would you describe as an effective staff meeting? Ineffective? What the candidate describes as effective will probably be what he or she aspires to. Ask how closely his or her past meetings have met that standard. Notice whether the candidate talks about keeping control (e.g., setting time limits and an agenda, having a purpose and objectives, alerting members to their expected contributions), while getting maximum involvement. Does he or she understand the need for different types of meetings for different purposes? Follow-ups: "How do you handle someone who dominates the meeting?" "What do you do if your people won't participate in a meeting?" 4. How do you typically get cooperation from someone in another department? The applicant should first acknowledge the need to get cooperation from others. Answers might include actions such as bargaining, finding a common goal, or attempting to build relationships. Whatever the answer, probe to find out what the applicant would do if that approach does not work. Can the candidate get a commitment and cooperation from others by other means? Can he or she be aggressive in obtaining commitments if necessary? 5. What are some of the "unwritten rules" for behavior or politics in your current company? Are some more bothersome than others? This is a variation of question #1 above. If the candidate has trouble listing the "unwritten rules," it is a good indication he or she has low awareness of organizational norms and could easily violate unspoken rules in your organization. Probe the rules the candidate finds bothersome. Do they seem so onerous to you? Did he or she make a good attempt to follow them?

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Interview Questions 6. Have you had to make oral presentations to other managers? Describe what you did and how effective it was.

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Notice whether your candidate looks at a presentation as a challenge or as something to be dreaded. Find out how he or she organized the presentation, and whether the purpose was to sell, or merely to inform others. If the candidate says a presentation was effective, ask him or her how one measures effectiveness. In summary, this question will help you know the extent to which your candidate enjoys oral presentations and is experienced at organizing them. 7. How have you demonstrated your loyalty or help to your current management? What the applicant has offered is a good description of what he or she will offer you. Probe vague or general answers such as "to give 100 percent" or "to be there ready to work every day." Ask for examples of times when the candidate went beyond the usual and did something special. 8. Give me an example of a time when you felt it was necessary to be assertive to get what you felt you deserved or needed from your manager. The candidate will volunteer a situation. Listen carefully to determine whether the assertive behaviors sound aggressive. Does the candidate understand his or her manager's point of view? Was it treated as a personal affront, or did the applicant try to solve a problem, rather than blaming and accusing the manager? Does that level of assertiveness fit what would be acceptable in your company?

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Interview Questions

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Planning
1. How far in advance do you typically plan activities for yourself and your employees? By what method? The time-frame for the plan given should match the complexity of the tasks the candidate and his or her employees must accomplish. Assess whether the planning method seems sufficiently sophisticated. Does it consider historical data? The potential impact of outside parties? Potential changes or deviations? Does it seem to fit the planning time available in the management position you are filling? 2. Please describe a time when your plans didn't work out. What did you do to recover? Look for determination and an ability to analyze the failure in a detached, logical manner. Look also for an action which demonstrates. the candidate's ability to adjust the plan using creativity, others' help, and hard data. 3. How do you assess priorities? How do you then assign them? Every manager must juggle priorities. Does the candidate seem more "day-to-day" or does he or she seem to have consistent criteria for deciding? Does frequent communication with other managers (including those above him or her) figure into the assessment? Is there a system for assigning priorities or is it simply "who pushes the hardest"? 4. Give me an example of a change you saw coming, or something you thought was necessary to change. How did you go about planning for it? An excellent candidate has one eye on the future. Rather than merely coping everyday, he or she looks for changes – both those from outside forces and those which must be self-initiated. Look closely to determine whether the candidate planned to implement the change – and whether the plan was followed. 5. What major work activities do you have plans for right now? Please describe them. Notice the degree of confidence and enthusiasm. Did the plans come from others, or did the candidate initiate them? Planning is a necessary, key function which must involve forecasting, research, creativity, goal-setting and implementation. Does your candidate seem comfortable with this part of the manager's job?

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Interview Questions

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Problem Solving / Analytical Skills
1. Have you ever been assigned several important projects at roughly the same time? How did you go about setting priorities for your time? Look for an answer that demonstrates an analytical process. The applicant might consider factors such as the impact on production, others' expectations, deadlines, and organizational politics. Notice whether the applicant takes responsibility for creating a solution, or simply blames the system. An analytical applicant might have analyzed the situation as a problem and recommended, or at least thought about, procedures to prevent its constant recurrence. 2. Give me an example of a difficult decision you had to make at your last job. How did you solve it? Follow up. Why did you choose that method rather than another solution? The applicant should explain how he or she identified the real problem. Probe to find out the methods used to analyze the problem and the questions the applicant had to answer to arrive at possible solutions. Look for a problem situation analogous to ones he or she might face in the new position; for example, a "people" problem or a "hard data" problem of facts and statistics. Find out the time pressures involved and whether he or she explored alternative courses of action alone or with others this will help you determine how the applicant will go about solving problems. 3. What kinds of problems do you feel you are uniquely qualified to solve? Give me an example of how you have demonstrated this. Some applicants will describe their training or education, others what experience has taught them. This self-description question can be very revealing. Applicants will usually describe their problem solving ability by (a) concrete skills ("give me the pieces of the puzzle and I’ll put them together for you"), (b) abstract (the ability to analyze and organize ideas and concepts), or (c) creative problem-solving (formulating new approaches, perhaps innovating on-the-spot solutions). 4. Please describe your current approach to searching for employment. In one sense, the job search is a problem like any other business problem. The applicant must first set a goal or intended result, acquire data, analyze various factors and take the initiative to advance various courses of action. An analytical applicant will be conscious of the job search process – he or she will have a "plan" to get a job and will be intellectually challenged by the process. 5. What information or technical support has helped you succeed on the job (for example, standardized forms, procedures, goals, delivery date, etc.)? Which have you created on your own to make things more efficient? This question will help determine the applicant's need to "systemize" work. Some applicants have a high need for "structural" support – if a system isn't in place, they analyze the need for one and begin designing forms, procedures, etc. If they create such a structure, probe to find out what the initial problems were, what change they initiated and what the results were. lf they were satisfied

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Interview Questions with organizational structures in place, ask for examples of why and how they were worthwhile structures or procedures. 6. What has been a stubborn or recurring problem which you would have liked to solve in your current job – but haven't yet?

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Look for an orderly examination of the problem into its component parts. An applicant with highly developed analytical skills should be able to answer this question easily. He or she will genuinely be challenged by the problem, and even enjoy discussing the problem and the various "blind alleys" traveled to solve it. Look for tenacity and determination in discussing a possible solution. Watch out for a tendency to blame others rather than accepting responsibility to work within the limits of the problem variables. Finally, notice whether the applicant's presentation of the problem is orderly and systematic. Where does the applicant begin the answer? Do the facts presented sound objective? Has he or she thought through the pros and cons of various approaches? What lessons did the applicant learn from the search for a solution? 7. What process do you follow in solving problems? Consider the problems your candidate might face in the position. Would a "shoot from the hip" approach work best, or a more carefully structured one? Ask for an example to illustrate the approach discussed; the process an individual wants to follow might not match the reality of what he or she actually does. 8. What methods do you use to make decisions? Please give me an example of your approach. When the facts are all in, what does your candidate do when a firm decision must be made? Does he or she act quickly? "Sleep on it" for a day or two? Go for a "gut feeling"? 9. What is the biggest error in judgment you have made in a previous job? Why did you make it? How did you recover? This question can help reveal weaknesses in the candidate's approach to problem solving or decision-making. As a follow-up, ask how he or she has since guarded against those kinds of errors. No problem solver makes the right judgment every time. Assess whether he or she took a calculated risk, or simply made an unthinking blunder. Finally, determine what he or she teamed from the experience. 10. What kinds of decisions did you have authority over? Which ones did you have to check with your manager before making? Beware of the applicant who continually refers to what "we" did. This question clarifies how much leeway the applicant had or has to make decisions. Ask whether he or she would like more authority. Then match the answers to the authority allowed in the new position.

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Interview Questions

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Stress
Note: Remember that your questions must not violate the ADA, specifically the provisions on mental disabilities. For specific guidance concerning the ADA'S restrictions on an employer's use of disability-related inquiries, see the Appendix at the back of this manual. 1. In your last job, when did you feel pressured? Why? Notice whether the pressures were from external factors more than internal (psychological or emotional) pressures. Were the pressures possible to alleviate? To avoid? Probe to uncover how often these pressures surfaced. Match with the pressures likely to be faced in the new position. 2. What have you done on or off the job to alleviate job stress? On the job, listen to determine whether the applicant knows how to use humor, communicate with others to work through conflicts, give and get support, take time outs, or use other stress-reducing methods. Off the job, see if your applicant has counterbalancing factors to cushion job stress. (For example, the support of friends, an exercise program, meditation or other methods.) 3. In a past job, what was most likely to create stress for you? For example, a tough deadline? Juggling priorities? Meeting others' expectations? Why? The items stated indicate an important aspect of the candidate's personality. Probe to determine what about the situation was stressful. For example, if applicants say "meeting deadlines," this may mean they are perfectionists and dislike letting go of their work. On the other hand, it may mean they are somewhat unorganized. Finally, it may simply mean they are not receiving the help from others they deserve on the job, making them resent management. 4. Give me an example of what an organization/management should do to cushion or prevent the effects of stress from a job. Watch out for persons who expect miracles from management to bail them out. Be suspicious of answers such as "supply enough staff" or "give us more picnics and social time." On the other hand, reasonable answers might include suggestions about break times, working conditions, involvement in decisions or better supervision. Probe to determine whether the applicant has received what is needed in a past position. Could your organization supply these things? 5. Which situations have made you feel pleasantly stressed or excited at work? Give me an example please. Some people never feel this kind of stress at work. An applicant of this nature may be steady, but it is very unlikely that he or she will become an excellent employee. The best employees know this adrenaline surge well and welcome it. Can your position supply the situation they desire?

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Interview Questions

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6. What happens to your work when you begin feeling pressured? How do you know stress is affecting your work? Most applicants will list results such as more mistakes, more irritations occurring or working faster with less enjoyment. If your applicants claim that the pressure never affects their work, probe to determine what they have learned to do to reinterpret work pressures or shield themselves from them. 7. What aspects of this job do you think would be most stressful for you? Why? This question is a good way to determine if applicants truly understand what they will face on the job. The aspect they state is most likely what they fear being able to handle. Try to find out what it is about that particular job responsibility they anticipate will be troublesome. 8. How do you handle the need to juggle priorities or project? What have you done to accomplish this? Many applicants have had to face this sort of stress before, even those right out of college. Has the applicant responded by developing new techniques, a better "to do" list, for example? Better skills (such as increased assertiveness or an ability to "manage upward")? New values (learning to "roll with the punches," for instance)? The resourcefulness of the applicant is a test case for his or her ability to deal effectively with other stresses likely to be encountered on the job. 9. Have you ever had a key person you depended on who quit during an important job? What did you do? How did you feel about tit Ask this question especially if you are anticipating turnover in your organization. Those candidates who seem not to care may be unfeeling – on the other hand, they may have built up an internal mechanism which allows them to "block out."

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Interview Questions

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Writing Skills
1. When you have to write letters, how do you usually get started? This question will help to understand the candidate's approach to writing. Does the applicant write an outline before beginning, or simply "jump in"? 2. Would you prefer to write letters "from scratch" or use "form" letters? The best writers don't mind using a "form" letter at times. However, they like to add their own special innovations and touches. If the candidate always writes his or her letters, find out how much time it takes, and whether a form letter could accomplish the same purpose. 3. How do you keep track of incoming and outgoing correspondence? Correspondence can become a time-consuming part of a manager's day. Does the candidate have an evident filing system? Does he or she delegate early drafts to others? Write on a word processor? Use other systems or approaches? 4. What do you think is important to document? How do you document it? Documentation has become an increasingly important issue in management. Look for a candidate who keeps simple notes on employee performance and keeps statistics on production which are organized around dear, logical themes. Notice whether the candidate can access the information easily. Also, search for the documenting of employee performance – for example, proper documentation to defend against a discrimination claim or wrongful termination suit. 5. What do you see as the difference in writing strategy for a report vs. a memo vs. a letter? Which do you think takes more skill? A competent business writer understands that a report must present information leading to a logical confusion or recommendable. He or she also knows that a memo should be brief and readable, and should present the primary information. * * * * * * * *

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