The Blog by Mark Murphy and Leadership IQ

6 Words For Stopping Blame And Increasing Accountability

Sometimes when people mess up at work, they dodge accountability and shift the responsibility to someone else. This is called blame.

Far too many of us have experienced an employee missing a deadline and trying to throw a colleague under the bus for their mistake, like:

Posted by Mark Murphy on 23 June, 2016 Accountability, Forbes, Leadership | 0 comments | Read more →

Don't Bring Your Boss Only One Solution To A Problem

Imagine you discover a significant problem at work; the kind you need approval from your boss to solve. So you work up a proposal, bring it to your boss, and wait for approval. You’re a problem solver, and that’s what problem solvers do, right? You find a problem and generate a solution.
Posted by Mark Murphy on 22 June, 2016 Forbes, problem-solving | 0 comments | Read more →

Don't Make Constructive Criticism So Soft That People Miss Your Message

Effective constructive criticism maintains a delicate balance. When criticism is too harsh, recipients shut down emotionally, get defensive, and fail to hear a word you say. When criticism is too soft, recipients fail to hear the message that they really do need to change.
Posted by Mark Murphy on 20 June, 2016 Forbes | 0 comments | Read more →

The Hidden Flaw In Behavioral Interview Questions

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ

We’ve all used behavioral interview questions—questions that ask job candidates to recount a past experience so we can assess their likely future performance. In theory, behavioral interview questions should work just fine (because past behavior is usually a decent predictor of future behavior).

But most interviewers ask behavioral questions in a way that gives away the correct answer and thus ruins the question’s effectiveness.

Here are some pretty typical behavioral interview questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you adapted to a difficult situation and how you did it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to successfully balance competing priorities.
  • Tell me about a time when you were bored on the job and what you did to make the job more interesting.
  • Tell me about a time when you successfully persuaded someone to see things your way.

You probably noticed that all of these questions ask the candidate to recount a time when they ‘successfully’ did something. The candidate is asked about times they adapted to a difficult situation, balanced competing priorities, made their job more interesting and successfully persuaded someone. And that leads us to the flaw in these questions.

 

Take Our Quiz:  Could You Pass This Job Interview?

 

The flaw in behavioral interview questions

These behavioral interview questions make very clear that the candidate is supposed to share a success story about adapting, balancing, persuading, etc. No candidate in their right mind would answer these questions by saying “I’m terrible at persuading people, and my boss is a jerk who never listens to me anyway.” Or “I’m constantly overwhelmed by competing priorities, and I can’t live like that.”

These questions give away the right answers; cuing candidates to share success stories and avoid examples of failure. But how are interviewers supposed to tell good from bad candidates if everyone shares only success stories? Wouldn’t you rather change the question so that candidates feel free to tell you about all the times they couldn’t balance competing priorities? Or failed to persuade people? Or couldn’t adapt to a difficult situation?

Let’s take the question “Tell me about a time when you were bored on the job and what you did to make the job more interesting.” Because the question gives away the correct answer (talk about going from bored to interested), anyone who answers is going to say something like “here’s what I did to make the job the more interesting, and I grew professionally, and I was so enriched, etc.”

But now, imagine that you tweaked the question to not divulge the answer and you asked “Could you tell me about a time when you were bored on the job?” Because you’re not giving away the correct answer, you’re going to hear a wide range of responses.

Some candidates (people who are ‘problem bringers’ in their current job) are going to say things like “OMG, that job was sooo boring” and “I couldn’t wait to quit” and “I was bored, but hey, I needed the money.” Answers like that are a great gift because they immediately tell you not to hire that candidate. And those answers make your job as interviewer much easier because they help you weed-out the weaker candidates.

By contrast, people who are ‘problem solvers’ in their current jobs will have success stories that they’ll happily share. Their answers will highlight successes with details, context, evidence of deep thinking, and much more. And because you will have culled out the poor candidates, these potential star candidates will be that much easier to identify.

When I wrote Hiring for Attitude, my research found that up to 50-60% of candidates will give you answers about failures rather than successes when the interview question doesn’t directly divulge the correct answer. In essence, half of candidates could be ‘problem bringers’ rather than ‘problem solvers.’ While that’s probably bad for society, it makes your job as an interviewer much easier when half of all candidates self-identify as having a subpar attitude.

How to fix behavioral interview questions

The good news is that the problematic interview questions we’ve been discussing are fixable (as are most behavioral interview questions). The first big fix is to replace loaded words (like adapt, successfully, balance, persuade) with less presumptuous language. For instance, instead of asking candidates about when they ‘balanced’ competing priorities, we should ask them about when they ‘faced’ competing priorities. Instead of asking about when they ‘adapted’ to a difficult situation, we should ask about when they ‘faced’ a difficult situation.

The second big fix is to eliminate leading phrases like “tell me how you did it.” We want to ask questions that are so open-ended that candidates feel comfortable telling us when they did not take any action. Again, we want to let them self-identify as ‘problem bringers’ rather than ‘problem solvers.’

Here are some examples of how we could fix those interview questions…

ORIGINAL: Tell me about a time when you adapted to a difficult situation and how you did it.
CORRECTED: Could you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation?

ORIGINAL: Tell me about a time when you had to successfully balance competing priorities.
CORRECTED: Could you tell me about a time when you faced competing priorities?

ORIGINAL: Tell me about a time when you were bored on the job and what you did to make the job more interesting.
CORRECTED: Could you tell me about a time when you were bored on the job?

ORIGINAL: Tell me about a time when you successfully persuaded someone to see things your way.
CORRECTED: Could you tell me about a time when people didn’t see things your way?

Notice how each of the corrected questions doesn’t divulge the correct answer? The corrected questions allow candidates to share failures or successes, and in doing so, allow candidates to reveal their true attitudes.

You probably also noticed that my corrected questions are a bit more difficult for candidates to answer. And that’s intentional. Your job as interviewer is not to help candidates answer your questions. While leaders generally want to help people succeed, this is one occasion where you have to sit back and allow them to fail (i.e. give really bad answers). I know it seems harsh, but it’s much better to let them fail in an interview than to hire them and watch them fail on the job.

 

Mark Murphy is the founder of Leadership IQ, a New York Times bestselling author, a sought-after speaker, and he also teaches a series of weekly webinars for leaders.

Posted by Mark Murphy on 16 June, 2016 Forbes, Hiring for Attitude, Leadership Skills | 0 comments | Read more →

Quiz: How Do You Personally Feel About Change?

Posted by Mark Murphy on 08 June, 2016 Quizzes | 0 comments | Read more →

You Got Promoted To Manager, And A Coworker Is Mad: Here's What To Say

Originally published on Forbes...  Congratulations on getting that big promotion to manager! But, what happens if you had to compete against one or more of your colleagues to win the job? And now they’re mad because you won and they lost?
Posted by Mark Murphy on 07 June, 2016 Forbes | 0 comments | Read more →

Quiz: Does Your Job Require High Or Low Emotional Intelligence?

Posted by Mark Murphy on 21 May, 2016 Quizzes | 0 comments | Read more →

Video: Say 'Thank You' To Your High Performers During Performance Reviews

Here's a frightening statistic: Only 14% of employees think that performance appraisals are useful! And high performers are especially unhappy with their reviews.

Why? Because most managers don't offer even a simple 'thank you' to their high performers. And if they do say 'thank you' it's usually vague nonsense like 'nice job' or something equally non-specific.

So this 2-minute video below shows you a very simple (but powerful) way to say 'thank you' to your high and middle performers in their next performance review.  This video is a clip from my webinar last month called Taking The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews. And it was so popular that I’m doing it again live on Friday.

Here’s a link to get your spot for Friday's live webinar Taking The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews.

 

Here’s a link to get your spot for Friday's live webinar Taking The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews.

Our renowned research on performance management has appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, HR Executive, Talent Management, and more. And on this webinar, we’ll show you the latest techniques for taking the pain out of performance reviews.

LEARN MORE HERE

Posted by Mark Murphy on 07 March, 2016 Video | 0 comments | Read more →

Quiz: How Good Is Your Employee Engagement Survey?

Many employee engagement surveys are in need of improvement. So this quiz will help you diagnose your current employee engagement survey.
Posted by Mark Murphy on 04 March, 2016 0 comments | Read more →

Video: Make Your Presentations Highly Memorable With This Twitter Technique

If you give long presentations, people probably forget most of what you presented. In fact, the research says that people can maintain high attention for about 10 minutes. So if you want people to actually remember your presentations, every 10 minutes you need to insert a slide with a short one-line message summarizing what you just said. In other words, every 10 minutes you need to put a tweet up on the screen.

And then, how do you get people to remember all the tweets you showed during the presentation? Watch the 2-minute video below to learn a really cool trick for that!

This video is a clip from my webinar last month called The Secrets of Killer Presentations. And it was so popular that I’m doing it again live tomorrow. Here’s a link to get your spot for tomorrow’s live webinar The Secrets of Killer Presentations.

 

 

Here’s a link to get your spot for tomorrow’s live webinar The Secrets of Killer Presentations.

We’ve compiled the latest presentation skills from neurologists, visual designers, speech writers and psychologists, PLUS the most cutting-edge presentation technologies from companies like Emaze and Prezi, and packed them into a 60-minute, interactive presentation that will get you up to speed with the best presenters in the business.

 

 

Posted by Mark Murphy on 03 March, 2016 Video | 0 comments | Read more →
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Latest posts

  • 6 Words For Stopping Blame And Increasing Accountability

    This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ Sometimes when people mess up at work, they dodge accountability and shift the responsibility to someone else. This is called blame. Far too many of us have... Read more →

  • Don't Bring Your Boss Only One Solution To A Problem

    This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ Imagine you discover a significant problem at work; the kind you need approval from your boss to solve. So you work up a proposal, bring it to... Read more →

  • Don't Make Constructive Criticism So Soft That People Miss Your Message

    This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ Effective constructive criticism maintains a delicate balance. When criticism is too harsh, recipients shut down emotionally, get defensive, and fail to hear a word you say. When... Read more →