The Real Answer Comes From The Third Or Fourth Answer To The Question

We’ve all seen the heroic detective in the movies interrogate the lying criminal with deep questioning eventually getting them to admit the truth.  Psychologists have long recognized most “normal” people cannot effectively and consistently make-up details about past events on the fly and eventually tell the truth (psychotics are capable of imagining and recounting untrue facts while believing them).

Hiring managers should use a similar approach to interview questioning. When preparing to interview candidates (yes, they do need to do some pre-work if they expect a productive interview), they should plan three or four follow up questions to the initial question.

For example, while probing a candidate’s personal accountability plan to ask, “Tell me about a time when it was necessary to admit to others that you had made a mistake.”  Next follow up with questions like:

  • “Who was involved in the situation?”
  • “What did your boss do afterwards?”
  • “How long was it before you admitted the mistake?”
  • “What subsequent mistakes have you made and how have you handled them?”

Answering a series of questions becomes harder with each question and the interviewer will likely gain greater insights into the candidate with the follow-up questions.

Empowered hiring managers dig deeper in their questioning and make more successful hires.

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