When I was five years old, I reached up to touch the stove curious what was up there. I screamed in pain when my fingers were scorched, and I realized that was probably not worth repeating.
The physical universe has a way of teaching us a lesson here and there.
Our parents were also around to advise us along the way. Some of us heeded their advice; some of us not so much.
And when we got into the workplace, we did our best to learn on the job. We kept our eyes open and paid attention to what seemed to work.
But what if we got into situations we didn’t know how to deal with? Did we hope for the best and do whatever came to mind? Or did we ask for advice?
Advice is a curious thing. When should one ask? How often? Is it a sign of weakness to ask for advice? Do we not ask because we don’t want to bother our co-workers or supervisor?
In interviewing prospective employees, finding out how they operate with regards to advice could be revealing.
Here is how it could go:
“Frank, when is it a good time to ask for advice?”
Frank answers and then:
“Good to know, Frank. Let’s say your supervisor is getting a bit irritated about how often you’re asking for advice, but you really need to know how to handle a particular situation, what do you do?”
Frank may say he’ll stop asking if his supervisor is getting irritated. Or he may say he’ll risk his supervisor throwing the stapler at him, that getting the work task done right is more important to him.
If you’re hiring for a position that is very detail oriented and you need someone who knows these details cold, then you’ll probably want someone with no issues asking for advice. Ideally he’s well trained ahead of time, but you can also encourage a newly hired employee to ask away and not worry about asking too often.
Discussing this kind of thing with applicants can turn up some interesting viewpoints. And depending on the position you want filled, what you learn can be very helpful in making a decision.
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