Video: Always and Never

Video: Always and Never


Interview Questions And Answers: Warning Signals In The Interview

Interview questions and answers are critical to hiring success, and one thing we want to be careful of when we’re talking about interview questions and answers is not hiring people who say the words “always” and “never” a lot. Here's why.

High performers tend to know when you ask them about a situation, for example, Could you tell me about a time you faced a problem with a team worker? Could you tell me about a time you were given an impossible deadline? High performers tend to know that most situations are shades of grey. There aren't many things in life that are “always” and “never” much of anything, and high performers don't use many absolutes.

High performers might say, “I had a specific situation…” or “I had thirteen specific, seemingly impossible deadlines that I was given over a year…" But a low performer is more likely to say, “Ugh, I was always given assignments and they were never able to be done on time." Because low performers engage in more black and white kinds of thinking, an absolutist streak is what they tend to have, and you want to be careful of that when considering interview questions and answers.

High performers tend to give very specific examples and if something happened thirteen times, they'll tend to tell you, “it happened the thirteen times.” There's a big difference between “it happened thirteen times” and “it always happens.” Always means it's going to happen now. Or “it never happens,” this means not once, not even in a blue moon did it happen. But a high performer, they'll say, “Eh, it happened thirteen times.” Low performers, they tend to be more likely to say, “Yeah, yeah, uh, no it was always like that, it was never a good job.”

Interview questions and answers, we can’t interview without them, and what we ask, and how folks answer, determines whether we hire a high or a low performer. We discovered this by analyzing interview questions and answers, and how people answer interview questions. So we took a bunch of high performers, and we took a bunch of low performers, and we started doing textual analysis on their answers. And what we found was low performers use significantly more “always” and “never” or any kind absolutes… “impossible”, things like that, than do high performers.

Is this a cut and dry? Is it always that a low performer is always going to say “always” and “never”? No, but it is a good general rule of thumb that if you were in an interview, and you’re paying attention to the interview questions and answers, and you hear somebody start to say “always” and “never,” or they're saying it fifteen times throughout the course of the interview, that is a bit of a warning sign. Watch out for a person like that.

Posted by Mark Murphy on 20 March, 2017 Behavioral Interview Questions, Hiring for Attitude, no_cat, no_recent, sb_ad_30, sb_ad_5, Video |
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