From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
We recently had a new hire not work out, so we decided to terminate. The mistake on our end, I think, was in the Required Behaviors element, but I’m not sure. The position we hired for was an administrative support position. We decided it was Hi-S-I, Lo-S-II based on timespan, using checklists, and expertise. Tasks were getting done, but there seemed to be a missing behavior around awareness, interest in helping others, and assertiveness. Am I assessing correctly that this falls into Required Behaviors/Passion-Interests in the 4 Absolutes?

Response:
First a quick review of the Four Absolutes required for any position, no matter the discipline –

  • Capability (measured in Timespan)
  • Skill (technical knowledge, practiced performance)
  • Interest, Passion (high value for the behavior)
  • Required Behaviors (contracted behaviors, habits, culture)

You describe that task assignments were completed, I will assume on time and at quality standard. Your disappointment was in –

  • Awareness
  • Interest in helping others
  • Assertiveness

The question is, how could this have been detected in the interview? Let’s take the easy one first. Interest in helping others. I cannot see interest, I can only see behavior connected to interest. So, how does a person behave, who has an interest in helping others?

  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a team that required a great deal of interaction and support among the team members?
  • What was the team? What was the purpose for the team?
  • How many members on the team?
  • What created the need for interaction and support?
  • What did you need from the other team members?
  • What did the other team members need from you?
  • How did the other team members let you know they needed your support?
  • What did your support (what they needed from you) look like?
  • How quickly did they need that support?
  • Step me through an example where a team member needed your specific support?
  • How did you become aware they needed your support?
  • Step me through your response?

You can already see through these questions, that the interviewer will learn about your other two disappointments, awareness and assertiveness (speed of response). A person who is aware, will be able to respond easily to these questions. A person who is assertive will respond quickly with specific behavior appropriate to the situation.

These questions are behavioral, I am not interested personality, only behavior. Restrict your questions to real examples from the past. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Under pressure, people will retreat to what they have done in the past, even if it didn’t work.

By AKDSEO