Obama vs. The Job, Redux

Well DJ’s gone and thrown a hanging curve in my wheelhouse with his item down below. I’ve been a professional recruiter in agencies (~5 years) and on the corporate side (~9 years), so I know a thing or two about interviewing and hiring. Voters would come away with a better feel for a candidate’s suitability for office after one hour of questioning from me than they would if they watched ten moderated debates.

There are indeed many managers who are afraid of making hiring decisions. A bad hire costs time and money. It reflects poorly on the hirer – I’m looking at you fifty-some-odd percent of voters whose children will be taxed at a 60% rate. Then the entire process must be repeated. Without a sense of what to look for as an indicator of future success in potential employees how does an untrained interviewer make the right decision?

Science, ubiquitous as it is, has given us a solution to this eternal question – the behavioral interview. The best indicator of an individual’s potential to thrive in a new position is their past behavior. So you identify several functional, technical, and behavioral requirements, then create a questionnaire that allows you to score each candidate based on their behavioral indicators. Situation, task, actions, result. The candidate can clearly articulate their actions or they can’t.

By grading every candidate based on the same pre-identified criteria you can ensure consistent, quantifiable, and – as is important in the world of HR – fair results. Plus it’s a lot more fun and interactive than just having them recite the collection of career highlights and buzzwords that are on their resume. I don’t even look at the resume when I’m interviewing anymore. Just imagine how much we’d have known about our presidential candidates if they’d been asked some questions like these:

There are times when we work without close supervision or support to get the job done. Tell us about a time when you found yourself in such a situation and how things turned out.

What is the riskiest decision you have made? What was the situation? What happened?

Developing and using a detailed procedure is often very important in a job. Tell about a time when you needed to develop and use a detailed procedure to successfully complete a project.

Tell me about a time when you demonstrated too much initiative.

Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.

Give an example of a time in which you had to come to a decision quickly.

What was the biggest mistake you have had when delegating work? The biggest success?

What are some of the major decisions you have made over the past (6, 12, 18) months?

Sometimes it is essential that we break out of the routine, standardized way of doing things in order to complete the task. Give an example of when you were able to successfully develop such a new approach.

On occasion we are confronted by dishonesty in the workplace. Tell about such an occurrence and how you handled it.

Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?

Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were the results for you? What were the results for the other party?

Tell us about a time when you took responsibility for an error and were held personally accountable.

Tell us about a time when you used your leadership ability to gain support for what initially had strong opposition.

What do you consider to be the most urgent crisis situation you were required to manage? How did you prioritize? What was the outcome?

Have you ever been caught unaware by a problem or obstacles that you had not foreseen? What happened?

Can you recall a time when you were less than pleased with your performance?

When have you had to produce results without sufficient guidelines? Give an example.

Tell us about a time when you anticipated the future and made changes to current responsibilities/operations to meet future needs.

On many occasions, managers have to make tough decisions. What was the most difficult one you have had to make?

No where for campaign rhetoric and teleprompters to hide there. I wouldn’t hire a friggin’ sales manager without hitting him with 8-10 of those questions, but we elect a president based on inanities asked by Gwen Imus and the leather Muppet looking dude. You’d better dazzle me with brilliance because you’re not going to baffle me with bs. I’ve seen it before. I’ve heard it all. Don’t insult me by trying.

Especially if you’re a public figure and your behavioral indicators are pretty well documented. WYSIWYG.

So it’s no surprise that voters, not having pre-determined a set of key performance indicators and lacking access to interactively address questions to the candidates, make uninformed hiring decisions. Of course, when the game become R vs. D any concept of informed decision making is as common as a shaved armpit at a Code Pink rally.

Obama on Leno jokes about being a bad bowler- "like the Special Olympics or something"
Obama vs The Job