The three most important words in an interview: Tell me more
Written by Eric Petersen, CIC
We all know how much hiring the wrong person hurts your organization, yet most tree care companies are not good at screening potential employees during an interview. The reasoning is pretty obvious, besides feeling the pressure of needing more employees on a daily basis, interviewing can be an arduous task and one that many tree care companies don’t practice and therefore are not very skilled in.
So how do you know what to ask and more importantly, how do you know if the prospective employee is telling you the truth or just what you want to hear? Many times it is difficult to decipher, but the most powerful interview tip that I’ve learned over the years is to use a simple three word phrase…
“Tell me more.”
One of the most common traps an interviewer falls into is talking too much instead of getting the prospective employee to open up. There are many reasons why this happens, but even when the interviewer applies conscious thought on not talking too much during the interview it still doesn’t always prevent it. This is why I love the “tell me more” phrase. It intentionally takes the spotlight from the interviewer and directs it at the interviewee.
This tactic is used similarly to digging deeper when on a sales call. I recently wrote an article about how to get down to the root reason or decision-making motivation when on a sales call by asking “why” three times. To read that article click here. Employ the “tell me more” phrase three times to any important interview question and you’ll gain a tremendous amount of insight about your prospective employee.
Let’s walk through an example…
Interviewer: “I see you have worked at three different tree care companies in the past, tell me more about those experiences.”
The Interviewee will typically answer with a simple statement without much substance like; “the other companies weren’t a fit for me.” The Interviewer should follow up this bland statement with the following.
Interviewer: “Tell me more about why they weren’t a fit for you. Start with the company you currently are working for.”
The Interviewee now has to actually answer the question and you’ll get an initial glimpse into that person’s personality and what they value from an employer. Still, there probably is much more to uncover so the interviewer should try to go deeper.
Interviewer: “You mentioned that you didn’t see a chance at advancing with your old company, tell me more why that is important to you.”
Now on the third “tell me more” the interviewee has to open up about their feelings on whatever topic you have gone down and the interviewer will receive real information to help in the hiring decision.
I suggest you do this with 3 or 4 questions on every interview so you actually get in-depth answers. From there it should be fairly easy to see which prospective employee will fit with your company culture and which one(s) won’t.
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