How Did You Handle Disagreements?

Employee Disagreement

This could be broken down into three parts:

How did you handle disagreements with customers?

How did you handle disagreements with other employees?

How did you handle disagreements with your superiors or the boss?

There’s a handful of ways that someone deals with a disagreement.

One could just succumb, or give in, and let the other party have his or her way.

One could push hard to get one’s viewpoint across so that the other person accepts, at times begrudgingly.

One could avoid the whole thing and just move on to another subject.

Handling a disagreement is going to differ depending on whom it is with. We might go the distance with a fellow employee, but buckle fairly quickly if we’re talking to our boss.

Or maybe we feel so strongly about something, that we feel compelled to get the boss to change his or her mind.

A number of possibilities here, so get in there and ask away. Work on getting specific incidents of dealing with disagreement.

Is he or she pushy or simply determined to straighten things out? Is he or she so backed off that they’ll give in at the slightest sign of disagreement? Somewhere in between?

Regardless of what comes up, you’re going to find out some interesting things about your applicant.

Is The Customer Always Right?

I find this to be a fascinating question to ask an applicant.

But before we can do that, you would need to answer the question yourself:

Is the customer always right?

I know some companies believe in this so strongly they have plaques on the wall proclaiming it. Likely not for the customer to see, but visible to all employees.

The idea, of course, is to do everything possible to satisfy the customer so that a) she purchases and b) she’s happy she did so.

And, in theory, that’s a great business principle to live by.

But, in practice, you’ve likely come upon situations where the customer was “so wrong” that you weren’t willing to give away the store just to satisfy him.

I’m thinking the vast majority of you know that judgement enters in and that means employees will be required to apply a bit of judgement from time to time.

So, let’s simply ask the applicant:

“Mary, here’s the next question I’d like you to answer: ‘Is the customer always right?’”

Mary may ask for clarification, and if you want to give some, go ahead. But I’d suggest simply directing Mary back to the question itself and see how she answers it.

If she gives a glib answer, “Yes, I believe the customer is always right,” then you could follow that up with:

“Okay, Mary, that sounds fine. What if the customer believes she gave the cashier a one hundred dollar bill but she factually only provided a twenty-dollar bill? In that instance, is the customer right and you would need to pay her an additional $80 in change that she does not deserve?”

Mary will think about that for a while and give you her best answer.

There may not be a clearly right or wrong answer to the question: “Is the customer always right?” But you will learn if your applicant is thoughtful enough to consider other possibilities here. And this could be important moving forward, as you may not want Mary inclined to give away the store too often.

How Would You Resolve an Employee Dispute?

Upset Employees

You could say, it’s not up to Employee A to resolve a dispute between Employee B and Employee C.

You could say that.

But if the supervisor for Employees A, B and C isn’t around or isn’t into resolving disputes, are we going to just let disputes fester?

Well, sometimes we do.

But let’s check with our applicant and see if she is inclined to get in there and mix things up.

“Mary, let’s say two employees that work near you are having a dispute. It gets a bit loud. The supervisor isn’t around, and you’ve learned the supervisor doesn’t particularly care to get involved in employee disputes. What would you do?”

Mary answers that she wouldn’t try to get involved in such things.

Okay, that’s an honest answer. And maybe a good approach as Mary worries that she risks making the dispute worse if she involved herself.

Or Mary answers that she’d want to do what she could to resolve the dispute. If that’s what Mary would do, let’s find out how she would do that.

“That sounds very responsible, Mary. Could you let me know how you go about that?”

And Mary does.

This is one of those hiring tips where there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. But it will give you some insight into how your applicant views her position in the workplace.

Not wanting to rock the boat and taking the safe route.

Or being pro-active and keen on fixing things that appear to need fixing, even if fixing them isn’t specifically in her job description.

Again, either way, you’re going to learn something of value about your prospective employee.

Will They Contribute to the Organization’s Mission?

Chocolate Strawberries

If you’ve been reading these tips for a while, you know I like to define terms. So, let’s look at a definition of mission:

The purpose or the most important aim of an organization.

Before you can find out how your applicant will contribute to your organization’s mission, we need to establish with the applicant what that is.

You could simply state it to the applicant, or you could take a shot at asking them what it is. This second approach will reveal how much research they did before showing up for the interview.

Okay, it’s established the mission is to make such an amazing chocolate-covered strawberry that people feel compelled to immediately tell their friends about it.

Now, let’s ask the simple and direct question:

“Alice, how do you see contributing to our mission?”

If they don’t answer fairly quickly with a well-thought-out answer, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Well, frankly, no bad answer to any hiring interview question is the end of the world, but I digress. They could be a great hire and then learn over time how to contribute to your company’s purpose.

But if they do impress you with their answer, that’s a good indicator that they did a bit of due diligence before they showed up for the interview.

And one approach to evaluating applicants is how many “good indicators” are they collecting for themselves? More, of course, is better.

Can We Generalize About Young Applicants?

I should first explain what I mean by the title of this tip.

To generalize means to make a general or broad statement inferred from specific cases.

And, for the purpose of this tip, let’s use the ages 18-25 to define what a young applicant is.

I imagine most, if not all of us, are interviewing these younger applicants. Can we, should we make any general conclusions about them?

In one respect, I’m thinking we should not make any general conclusions about this section of the workforce. Doing so might cause you to overlook or miss out on superb candidates.

But, from another respect, if we feel we have specialized information about this “applicant group,” it may help us as we navigate the hiring process with them.

Here’s what various studies have come up with:

• This age group wants the company’s purpose to align with their purpose. This could include how they feel about the environment and how they feel about various social issues.

• When they study the company online, they will likely look for how involved the company is in community activities.

• A healthy majority of them look to reviews about companies before they make a decision about a job offer.

• A good percentage want to work in small groups in an office environment.

• Despite being very savvy in digital technology, many prefer face-to-face contact with fellow employees than email or phone.

• They tend to be more creative and entrepreneurially oriented than previous generations.

So, that’s good data to know about this sector, right?

What else do we know about them?

Well, I’ve personally interviewed many business owners, CEOs and HR people over the last 13 years. A few recurring concerns have come up:

• In too many instances, a job was offered, but the applicant didn’t show up on the starting date AND did not notify anyone that they weren’t coming.

• Some feel entitled about how much money they should be paid right off the bat, without necessarily proving themselves. Or perhaps they felt deserving of a special schedule just for them.

• Some have made demands that they felt must be in place before they would give their approval to get started with you.

The overall information above about this 18-25 group is interesting and possibly helpful. But you should also be a healthy skeptic about this data. Knowing the above may make it easier for you to interview them, and you may not be as surprised by different things that come up in the interview. You may decide to be very proactive by ensuring your online reviews are monitored and responded to.

If you are likely to be hiring a good number from this age segment, perhaps you put some quality time into how your company can be more socially conscious and more involved in social activities.

But, in the end, you are interviewing the person in front of you. His “age group’s tendencies” are not something you should overly focus on. Every person is a unique individual. That person in front of you may be uniquely qualified to do what you want and may also be an excellent cultural fit for you.

After all is said and done, that’s what you’re looking for, right?

Salespeople — What Should You Look for?

The Hiring Tips Newsletter has grown to 275 tips. Sixty-five of the best tips are available in the book, How to Hire The Right People.

99% of these tips are simply that. A way of looking at some aspect of the hiring process that will make that process easier, more efficient and even more successful.

1% of the tips promote our employee testing service in some way. This tip will be in that 1%.

Our personality profile test reveals a great deal of information about people. It can be used for any position, from a high-level executive to a stock clerk; from a dental assistant to a bookkeeper.

Recently I was asked how would our test help with hiring salespeople. I looked through the test results and found the following traits revealed. When you read over these traits, consider how important they would be for a salesperson:

• Makes plans and carries them out
• Adapts easily
• Steady, calm
• Reliable
• Good sense of certainty at work
• Consistent
• Energetic 
• Takes initiative
• Self-assured
• Proactive
• Truthful

Those are traits on the positive side of the ledger. On the negative side, consider the following traits that you would NOT want to see in a salesperson:

• Poor concentration
• Difficulty maintaining control
• Easily distracted
• Not reliable
• Lack of certainty
• Passive
• Lacks initiative
• Procrastinates
• Doubts fitness to get things done
• Careless
• Tactless
• Can generate resentment

The above traits, both positive and negative, are traits that our employee test will reveal to you.

Salespeople should be reliable, consistent, truthful, energetic and be able to take initiative. And of course, other traits that are valuable for a salesperson to have.

And we’re likely not to put someone in a sales position who is easily distracted, isn’t reliable, lacks initiative and can generate resentment.

If you are not using our employee testing service, the first thing to do is watch this three-minute video. After you watch the video, we invite you to take the test yourself. You’ll be able to see how accurate it is and just how much information it can provide in making hiring decisions.

Yes, this tip is quite self-serving. But we are very proud of our employee testing service and our clients say things like this:

“We’ve been using your testing service for a while now. Prior to using your test, we just had too much of a revolving door. Now, a much greater percentage of our new hires stay with us and become the kind of employee we set out in the beginning to find.” — P.M. / Clearwater, FL

Boring Web Site Hiring Pages

Just about every company has a web site. And if you do not have one, please realize the main character in the movie Groundhog Day* has been taken!

Most company web sites include a page to offer employment.

I have seen many of these pages. Likely hundreds of them. I don’t wish to be too harsh here, but the vast majority of these pages are…


What do we see on most of these pages?

• The company is indeed hiring.

• Perhaps a list of available positions.

• Possibly a bit of information on each position.

• Often a form to fill out an application for employment.

A few web sites include glowing information about the company, stated in ways you would never see in normal conversation. As an example:

“Our company culture integrates holistic approaches to job development and personal growth. We place a premium on honesty and integrity both in our interchanges with our customer base and with our cherished employees.”

I’m sorry, but who — repeat WHO — believes these kinds of things.

Your hiring page on your web site is a superb opportunity to stand out.

If all you want to do is alert web site visitors that you’re hiring, what the positions are, and provide an application form, then fine.

But when someone shows up on your hiring page, make the effort to ATTRACT THEM. Use simple and straightforward language. Use a bit of humor. Maybe mention that after Frank was seen violently shaking the vending machine, a new one was brought in that actually worked and gave the correct change!

Look over your web page for hiring. Look over a few competitors of yours. What do you see?

Take the viewpoint of someone arriving on your hiring page. What could you say that would convince YOU to fill out an application?

After the page has been reworked, ask a handful of your staff for feedback.

People are showing up on your hiring page. Let’s do the best job possible to create that first reach.

* If you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day, here’s a brief summary: A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes to a small town to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. For most of the movie, he does not move forward in time.

Is The Applicant a Job-Hopper?


We all have a good idea of what a “job-hopper” is, but let’s look at a couple of definitions anyway, both fairly similar:

job-hopper is someone who works briefly in one position after another rather than staying at any one job or organization long-term.

Job-hopping is a pattern of changing companies every year or two of one’s own volition rather than as a result of something like a layoff or company closure.

Of course, every one has the right to improve their circumstances in life. If that means working for a company for six months and moving on; working for another company for four months and moving on again, and then working for that third company for a year and moving on again, well, one certainly has the right to do that.

The reasons a person job-hops may not be entirely financial. One job may be closer to where they live; another may have better perks; another may give better prospects for advancement.

So, yes, we all should have the opportunity and the freedom to improve how life unfolds for us.

But there is the other side of that coin.

Company A is investing in Employee B. He is getting trained and apprenticed at a position. If Employee B leaves in a few months, Company A will need to repeat that entire process with a new employee.

Employee B is not only being grooved into his new position, he is also getting familiar and accustomed to working with other employees and with customers. From the company’s perspective, this familiarity has real value.

Not too long ago, it was a strong purpose for someone looking for a job to land one and be able to stay there for many years. Grow with the company. Be a part of the culture and the community that company serves.

But that perspective has definitely shifted. Partly because a number of companies have laid off large numbers of their employee ranks, despite a good number of them having invested many years into the company.

And this perspective has shifted because applicants today want more flexibility and freedom to move from Company A to Company B.

So, when you’re sitting across from someone who looks like an excellent fit for your company, how would you approach this?

Your first clue, of course, is the résumé. If the résumé shows considerable job-hopping, then I suggest discussing that with the applicant. Go over what the company will be investing and that you would like to hire someone who’s going to have “some” longevity with the company.

What does that mean, longevity? Well, you’ll need to decide that for yourself. Does that mean at least a year? Two years? Five years?

But even if the résumé does not indicate job-hopping, you still may want to have this point hammered out.

In terms of contracting the person for a specific period of time, I recommend checking with your attorney on what the laws are for your given area.

But you’re in better shape having the conversation with your applicant than avoiding it. Define for yourself and your company what kind of longevity you’d like to see and work it out with the applicant before you make the final decision.

Do You Use A Checklist With Each Applicant?

We all have a series of steps we take when hiring a new employee. Let’s look at some of them that you could put into a checklist:

• Determining the need for the position.

• Can we fill that need internally?

• Promoting to the existing staff that we’re looking to fill a position and getting referrals from existing staff.

• Placing ads externally. On job boards. In newspapers. Anywhere a job can be promoted.

• Applicant fills out a job application.

• A phone interview.

• A second phone interview.

• An in person interview.

• A background check.

• Checking over the résumé.

• Checking the references in the résumé.

• Employee testing. You did know that’s what we provide.

• A second in person interview.

• Salary discussion.

• Having a staff member interview the applicant.

These are some of the steps we take from: A position needs filling to making the decision to fill it.

The company The Balance Careers has a comprehensive checklist that you may like.

Put together a checklist that works for your company. Add to it as necessary, remove action steps that you no longer do. Keep it streamlined but by all means, use it. You’ll find the entire process runs smoother.

This Job Is Very Stressful And…

employee stress

If the job you need filling is very stressful, how do you determine if someone can handle the stress?

I heard of one way of doing this in the hiring interview.

Right up front, some of you may find this a bit off-putting, but I see it as a possible means of checking “stress levels.”

Here’s how it went:

The company was hiring for a very stressful position. At the end of each interview, specifically with applicants they thought might be a good fit, the interviewer said,

“We’re not sure you’re suitable for the job.”

Apparently one of the candidates stood up and said, “Well, I’m not sure I want to work here” and left the interview room, never to be seen again.

So, we’re pretty sure she didn’t handle the stress in that interview very well. She could’ve sat back, collected herself and then come back to the interviewer with reasons why she was indeed suitable.

She could’ve also just simply acknowledged the interviewer and waited patiently for what came next.

Instead, she blew up. A bit of stress was entered into the interview and her method of handling it wasn’t analytical at all. It was emotional and it cost her the job.

Okay, I get it. It does seem a bit off-putting. But you know what’s really off-putting? Hiring someone for a very stressful job who is not able to handle even a modicum of stress.

So, we attempt to find out.

In the interview.

Good luck with this one. You may get some sparks, but you may also get a few gems coming through.

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