To Employ Or Not Employ?

To Employ Or Not Employ?

Recruiting falls on your shoulders when you're building a team—pick the wrong person and it's your fault. Getting the right boys and girls on the playground is a challenge. In talking with the Chief Executive Officer of Navajo Manufacturing (where they employ thousands of people), he gave me the question that gives you a pulse or "downbeat” on a potential new hire. The two questions that will set the tone for the rest of the interview. "It took me 20 years to figure out this question to start with."

Forget NASA-derived, spatial-orientation tests. Forget Microsoft-designed creativity exercises. Throw out the dance routines you want them to perform!

Two questions is all you need to gauge this interviewee.

The first is 'Rate yourself out of ten?’

A simple self-appraisal question. You can assure the person sitting across from you that it's not a trick question, because it's not. Most interviewees will probably answer ‘seven.’ It's a safe bet; not too low to make you think less of them, not too high to make you think they are too cocky.

If anyone answers with a 'ten' then they better be Hans Zimmer or Batman.

Assuming the person said 7, or something other than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps off-the-charts status, the second question is 'What would it take for you to become a 9?’

Answers will fall into two main categories.

Category one is filled with answers like:

  • If I had more money
  • If the economy improved
  • If my mother was less demanding of my time
  • If I had a faster and better computer
  • My mother-in-law hates me

Category two is filled with answers like:

  • I need to focus more on my day-to-day goals
  • I could wake up a bit earlier
  • I get distracted by my phone, I can remove the facebook app from it
  • I tend to be a little insecure, I could work on that
  • I dont really budget well, I could reduce my spending

Do you see the difference?

Category one is filled with external forces that are limiting your candidate, they are all outside his control. This will probably never change, it's a habit that will always blame the outside world for their lack of "implementing their genius."

The second batch of answers are all internal, the candidate realises that he is responsible for them and has the power to change them.

That attitude to life can be termed your “Locus of control (LOC)." The LOC simply where you think the forces controlling your life reside.

  • People with an internal LOC have the ability to shape their environment because they do not see it as a limit.
  • They are very powerful movers and shakers in any organization.
  • They do not make excuses based on circumstances, they make solutions.
  • Those are the people you want to hire (or at least put through to the next round of interviews).

Back to the interview process. Of course the people you may end up interviewing are possibly reading this article as well. They may know the “correct" answer. There are dozens of blogs, books and seminars on conning your way through a job interview. That is why always implement probation periods with any new hire. No one can hide their LOC for any length of time. Get them to shadow the job for a week, put them under pressure. Sooner or later their true colours will show and, well, the door is always there to send them through.

Where does your Locus of Control live? Is it the economy’s fault? Or does the buck stop with you?

(photos via g.rod & photofixpdx)