Hiring A Great Employee Series
Part 3: Positively Positive
Our brains make subconscious decisions about people that are simply wrong. Seriously, we make snap judgements and form initial impressions of people that couldn’t be more inaccurate. We hire people we think will be perfect and we are disappointed. We pass over people that are a good fit because our brain isn’t making an informed decision. Consciously engaging in other people and asking appropriate questions will help you to make a better connection with your applicants, resulting in hiring a rock star. Well, maybe you will just hire someone that pays attention to details, likes their job and provides you with an honest day’s work. Let’s start with taking a closer look at all of your qualified applicants. Yes, I said ALL of your qualified applicants. Do not prejudge their resumes or their outward appearance. If they are qualified, begin your first sort based on one simple trait: being positive.
Negative employees lack trust in their employers and decrease employee morale. Positive people can increase employee morale and increase productivity. It is fairly simple to determine if a candidate carries a positive energy or a negative one. Schedule a simple 10 minute phone or personal interview. Listen carefully to the way each applicant answers 3 or 4 open-ended questions. An open-ended question is one that requires more than a simple yes or no answer. In order to answer an open-ended question, the applicant must recall a memory or conjure up an idea and describe it. Does their answer come from a negative experience or a positive one? Negative people are often quick to criticize, while positive people have a difficult time thinking of negative things. Whether you are on the phone or face to face, asking open-ended questions to your applicants will help you to ferret out the negative candidates. Here is a sample interview to see how it works.
What one thing would you change about your last (or current) place of employment?
Candidate 1: I would buy more cattle. It is ridiculous to have 50 pairs on 100 acres of pasture. Why should we have to mow the pastures when more cattle would just graze it off?
Candidate 2: I would expand. Buying more cattle would increase the owner’s profit. The employees can handle the extra work as well.
Essentially, both candidates gave the same answer to question #1; they would buy more cattle. But look at how differently they describe their reasons. Candidate 1 is demeaning and critical, while candidate 2 is thoughtful and optimistic.
What did you like the most and the least about your last (or current) job?
Candidate 1: I liked that we had every other Friday off. I didn’t like my supervisor; he was stupid and my work truck was junk.
Candidate 2: I like the way our day was structured; we could accomplish a lot in a day. There wasn’t really anything bad, except maybe my commute.
Although we can all empathize with candidate 1 and having a day off, the only thing favorable about their last job was not being at their last job. This shows a poor work ethic. This candidate also complains about another employee and the equipment or tools they were provided to do the job. If hired, you will be the next person that they complain about and your equipment will be fair game as well. Clearly, candidate 1 is negative and critical with a poor work ethic. Candidate 2 is actually referring to “the job” and not only appears to have a good work ethic, but a sense of teamwork, accomplishment and self-worth. Disliking the commute is not insulting or rude to any aspect of the employment. Candidate 2 is a positive applicant with a good work ethic. Plan to advance candidate 2 to the next phase of the interview process.
About the Author
Dr. Colleen Lewis is a 1996 graduate of Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Her career has taken her to many places as a practice owner, consultant, embryologist, and mentor. She enjoys mixed animal practice, teaching, traveling, farming and high school sports with her husband, Andrew and their three boys.