Any questions ?

AFTER a spectacularly failed stint at my first crack at university, I found myself working for the PMG (the forerunner to Australia Post). My title was assistant employment officer. I was positioned in an office on the ground floor of the old GPO (ask a boomer) in Forrest Place. My job was to vet people walking in off the street who were looking for casual employment in fairly menial jobs. (I didn’t think it was high-level head hunting). My job was to ask any applicants a bunch of questions. If they passed muster, they were then referred to the employment officer. I’m not sure what happened after that. There was a position vacant for a general handyman at the PMG workshop in Bayswater. Handywomen weren’t needed back then. Anyway, one day a bloke wandered in off the street and said that he would like to apply for the handyman job. So I proceeded to ask him the required questions. Can you do any woodwork? No. Can you do any mechanical work? No. Can you do any brickwork? No. Can you use a drill and bit? No. Can you do any paving or tiling? No. Can you use a paintbrush? No. Can you change a light bulb? No. And so on. Finally, I asked, “Listen, mate. We’re looking for a handyman. What makes you so handy?” “I just live round the corner,” he replied. Which leads us into this week’s column. When you are interviewing a candidate for a job, are they likely to tell you anything that will show them in a poor light? Unlikely. Will they try and tell you what they think you want to hear so that you will select them for the job? Of course. One of the factors that determines the success of a recruitment interview is the ability of the manager to ask probing questions. Questions which make the applicant demonstrate that they are the best person for the job. Good interviewers constantly probe an applicant’s answers for facts, verifiable examples or precise meaning. Remember that the candidate will attempt to put a good spin on everything. Unless you are checking on details in their resume, avoid asking questions that can be answered by yes or no. Here is a range of questions you might ask in a recruitment interview. • What assets do you bring to the job? What are your best qualities? • What qualities do others see in you? • What are your shortcomings? • What areas do you need to develop or improve? What qualities do you wish to develop further? • What constructive criticism have you received? • How might you be a risk for an employer? • What things have you done best? Done less well? What things have you liked best? Liked less well? • What are your major accomplishments? How did you achieve them? Describe your most difficult problems and how you handled them? • In what ways are you most effective with people? In what ways are you least effective with people? • What have you learned about yourself from your work experience? • What is the key to managing people? Or fitting in with people? How would your present boss describe your assets and liabilities? How would your friends describe your assets and liabilities? • What will be your main challenges in this job? How would you spend your first week or two in this job? • What verifiable examples can you give to back up your claims? • How do you like to spend your spare time? What social activities do you take part in? To what extent are you involved in the community? • How would you describe your home life? How do you feel about your current financial status? What are your goals in life? • How would you compare your attitude to work with that of the average person in this country? • • What factors mainly influence your motivation at work? • How would you describe the best boss you’ve ever had? • How would you describe the worst boss you’ve ever had? • Why would you be able to perform successfully in this job? • What skills or knowledge have you gained which will be required in this job?

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