The Power of Observation

[audio:|titles=The Power of Observation]Being very observant of how your applicant answers your questions is sometimes more revealing than the answers themselves.

I mentioned in an earlier hiring tip that some of your applicants may have read a book (or two or three) that advise people what kind of questions can be asked in a hiring interview. And they provide various ways to answer these questions. The earlier tip provided a few ideas on how to address this situation.

But here we’re interested in an overall approach you should take in the hiring interview. And that is very simply:

Observe how your applicant communicates to you.

Are they very comfortable with all of their answers or only some? Which answers produce discomfort?

Is the applicant just generally nervous because the interview is so important and there’s a very strong need to be hired? That’s certainly understandable, but you would also like to see someone who can handle various levels of stress. Every workplace has its tough moments and your ideal candidate is someone who can confront and handle these tough situations. One measure of this will be how they communicate with you in the interview.

Does the applicant come across as very “polished”? In other words, do their answers seem rehearsed? I like the fact that someone has put the effort into making a great presentation, but I also want a peek at what’s behind the performance.

Asking a couple of random questions might help:

What are your thoughts on the 4-day work-week?

If the roles were reversed right now, what question would you ask next?

The answers to these questions are not necessarily all that important but the questions themselves may help you move the person out of a ‘rehearsed mode.”

It reminds me of the political debates when each candidate comes across very smoothly until that one question is asked that they haven’t considered or rehearsed. HOW they answer that one question might make all the difference in their getting elected or not.


Because the people watching the debate notice the candidate’s ease in answering that disarming question and they notice when that ease disappears.

Pay close attention to how your applicant comes across. If they appear genuinely comfortable with all of their answers, this is a very good sign. If they appear “slick” to you, not so good. If they’re nervous answering certain questions, dig a bit deeper in these areas and see what else you can discover.

All in all, a good dose of observation will provide you with additional insights into your applicant.

As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.

Our three minute video will help you hire the right people.

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