Getting the Right People on the Engine

Joe Sommers, Director of HR Services for ZERORISK, has some great interviewing tips to help you in finding new candidates that fit with your team.

Q. Joe, what interviewing tips do you have to help departments find appropriate candidates that will “fit” in their department?

A. The success when interviewing for ‘fit’ is “knowing where you’re going.” By that I’m referring to – what does ‘fit’ mean to you and your department? Is it the ability to understand others, to respect each other as unique individuals, and to be accountable to the team? These are just a few of the attributes of our emotional intelligence (EI). In order to find the best fit in a candidate, you must define the EI competencies that spell success for the position.

Q. Can you give us one tip to help see through the Interview Façade?

A. Think of an ice berg where 85% to 90% is below the water line. In an interview, a candidate will typically show you only what’s above the water line – e.g. their great personality or giving you information they think you want to hear. But what’s below the water line is the source of their personality which is their EI. In other words, what they truly value and deem important. Using great structured interviewing techniques can help you get below the water line to get a better sense of who the person really is. Don’t ever take someone’s word on the surface, take the dive below and probe for the details.

Q. How can you get a feel for an individual’s group dynamics in a one-on-one interview?

A. Ask! For example, ‘give me an example when it was most important for you coordinate with another department or individuals outside your immediate team?’ Ground the candidate in recent past examples which truly demonstrate teamwork, respect, acceptance, and building relationships. People have stories to tell, but you have to ask.

Q. If you have someone in your department who has been recently hired but isn’t meshing with the team what can you do to help them feel a part of the team?

A. Yikes – you’ve just found yourself in one of the most difficult situations as a leader. First of all, you probably can’t change a person’s true behavior without a lot of effort, time & energy, and a willingness on the individual’s part to make a change. Tough assignment. Everyone brings their own EI (values) and motivations to the job every day. Helping the team, and certainly the new hire, recognize the motivations and EI of each team member is a great step in moving towards increased effectiveness with communication, interaction, and relationship building. Setting expectations up front is critical also – but that’s a whole other topic.
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"Using Emotional Intelligence in Interviewing: Getting the Right People on the Engine" will be presented at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) on Wednesday, August 26 from 3:00 PM-4:30 PM.

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