Lessons in Management Training

My title at work is Practice Manager.  I suppose if I work real hard, someday I will be Perfect Manager.  Towards that end, our management team gets together once a month and attends management training classes in Rockford.  We’ve covered topics ranging from customer service to stress reduction.  Last month’s meeting we talked about the best ways to hire people.  Essentially, you should find out about an applicant’s past.  The recent past is good and also figuring out repeated behavior in the past is key to a successful hire.

The second biggest challenge is coming up with interview questions that will address these qualities and get the applicant to open up about their past.  All too often, employers ask simple yes/no questions or ask a question so leading that the potential employee can easily figure out what the “right” answer is.  We spent the better part of an hour coming up with questions.  Here are a couple of samples.

  • Describe a situation where you had to make a decision on your own.  How did it work out and what did you learn from it?
  • How have you communicated your opinions to co-workers who had differing opinions or priorities?

I post these because the biggest challenge was being asked these kinds of leading questions.  We paired up and did mock interviews.  That was brutal.

  • Describe a time when you were disappointed with your performance.

Ouch!  I started having flashbacks to uncomfortable interviews I’ve had in the past.  On more than one occasion, I’ve had to describe what animal I would like to be.  I think every interview I have done in my twenty one years in the workforce has included some form of the following:

  • What do you think your biggest weakness is?

For my current job, I answered Kryptonite slows me down a tad, but otherwise I’m good.  I got the job, so I guess that was as good an answer as any.  The oddest question I can remember being asked was for a job at a library.  The head librarian, a thin woman with straight gray hair, ushered me into her office.  She peered at me over the tops of her glasses and asked the big question in a low voice.

  • How do you feel about… blood?

I didn’t really have a position on blood.  I still don’t.  I can’t remember what my answer was.  In any case, I didn’t get the job.  I fault the question.  If the knowledge is that necessary, it would be a good idea to use the management skills from the class.  Perhaps in the library industry, it’s important to know how much blood there is in an applicant’s past.  It may be good to know if there are repeated instances of blood.  A question where blood is involved should definitely not be so open ended (unless security is present during the interview process).  In my opinion, this is the difference between a successful manager and one that ends up with their liver being eaten to the accompaniment of a nice Chianti.


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