By Brad Remillard
When it comes to hiring a self-storage manager, a candidate's skills and experiences are irrelevant. It's how well he applies them on the job that counts.
To be clear, "irrelevant" does not mean "unimportant." Having the right skills and experiences is important, but they're simply the tools one brings to the task. Its a person's ability to effectively use these tools that matters. Just because you have a hammer and saw in your garage doesnt make you a fine-finish carpenter.
Interviewers tend to ask applicants a lot of questions about their past. For example, What have you done in this area? or Have you ever done [fill in the blank]? Those trained in behavioral interviewing will take those same questions and modify them by asking for an example: Give me an example where youve done X or Tell me about a time when you had X as an issue."
All of this may be good information, but the fact is you really dont care about any of it. When a new hire shows up on Monday morning, you no longer think about about all the things hes done in the past. You only care about one thing: Whether he can do the job youve hired him to do. Applicants may have the best skills and all the right experiences, but if they cant successfully apply them to the task at hand, it's all for nothing.
A New Methodology
Although behavioral interviewing was once a quantum leap forward in the hiring process, the method has run its course. Great interviewing is about more than getting at the past. The tag line for behavioral interviewing, past performance is an indicator of future performance, isnt always true.
Have you ever hired a person who interviewed well, who had all the right answers and items in his resume, but once hired fell flat on his face? This has happened to just about every employer at some point. Why? Its usually because the employee's skills and experiences are not primary indicators of his ability to do the job. They're secondary indicators at best, and more often than not, they're misleading.
Instead, focus the interview on answering one fundamental question: Can the person do the job? The key to successful hiring is a methodology that puts the candidate in the position before you hire him. Its not about determining if he has the right tools but if he can use them well. If he cant, he may not be the right fit.
How do you put candidates in the job before you hire them? Here are three steps to retooling your interview process:
Change your questions. Stop relying on questions that start with have you," "what," "tell me about a time when," etc. These should be used for probing after the candidate provides his initial answers. The famous who, what, when, where and why questions are for probing deep, not for opening questions.
Rely on how. One of the biggest challenges interviewers have is shifting to the use of how questions, for example: How would you decrease costs by 10 percent? How would you increase gross margins by X percent? How would you go about implementing a complete systems upgrade of our management-software program? How would you increase market share in your territory? After you ask how, you can begin probing with the five Ws.
Ask for examples. Shift the interview from the candidate's skills and experiences and ask him explain how he would specifically apply these to the job. If the potential hire cant envision how to apply his skills and experiences in the position, you have to question whether hes the right fit.
Its easy for candidates to talk about their skills and experiences. Some might even embellish in this area. Its significantly different for them to explain how they would apply those tools in your company, with your culture, resources, budget constraints and all the aspects that make your self-storage business unique from the one theyre leaving behind.
To make a successful hire, put the candidate in the job in advance with the use of "how" questions. See how he thinks on his feet. If he can't, you may be better served by moving on to the next potential hire on the list.
Brad Remillard is a speaker, author and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in hiring and recruiting. Through his corporate workshops and speaking engagements, he demonstrates how organizations can effectively attract, interview, hire and retain top talent. He is the co-founder of Impact Hiring Solutions and co-author of Youre NOT the Person I Hired: A CEOs Guide to Hiring Top Talent. For more information, visit www.bradremillard.com.