job openingJob openings these days appear to follow a pattern of feast or famine: a plethora of open positions all at once, or month after month of nothing. I’ve been conducting a lot of interviews lately. In addition to my previous post Interview Secrets, let’s look at a great new interview tip for companies AND prospective employees.

Human resources is becoming more and more bound by law in what it can and cannot ask in job interviews. Department heads are frustrated by new hires who, in the interviews promise the world, swear they can and will freely perform the essential functions of their jobs AND MORE, be on time everyindependence single work day and contribute to their new employer better than anyone EVER. Within eight weeks, reality sets in. “Susie” or “Bob” begin to show characteristics and proclivities not previously revealed, and before you know it, we’ve got performance issues and a ‘bad’ hire.

Last month I attended an annual HR law update conference where numerous HR issues and challenges were explored and bantered about. Mike Shetterly, DYNAMIC speaker and managing shareholder of the Ogletree Deakins Law Firm eloquently painted a precarious and candid picture of the current state of human resources in this country. Before concluding, he provided us with an invaluable tool. According to Shetterly there is ONE interview question that can be asked that will give you the best indication of the caliber and future potential of the job applicant:


Michael%20M_%20ShetterlyShetterly’s point is this: Did YOU exert more effort reviewing the applicant’s application and resume (and perhaps giving FaceBook a check), than the applicant spent in researching your company? Did the applicant ask at least THREE good questions reflecting his/her effort (that do not include pay or benefits)? If not, there is your evidence that you will spend more time pushing and pulling this person along as an employee. Chances are better than 50-50 that this candidate lacks initiative, preparation skills and a proactive interest in seeing your company succeed.


In the Ten Greatest Mistakes Made in Job Interviews Whereby Your Chances of Finding a Job Are Greatly Decreased (What Color is Your Parachute?), #3 is: Doing no homework on an organization before going there.parachute

Confession: If human resources is conducting the interview, they are most likely screening you OUT before handing the most qualified candidates to the hiring manager. I provide candidates with this information up front. Nonetheless, preparation should be the same. This month I used THE QUESTION and recommended it to my clients in career transition and to a non-profit leadership team I am working with. It is working beautifully!

I save THE QUESTION until I am about to conclude the interview – just prior to my asking the candidate if he/she has any questions. Reactions have been as telling as the answers. Two candidates were visibly stunned and fumbled over their words before finally confessing, “Well. I didn’t do anything but show up!” Another two allowed that they had been on our website – an easy ‘go-to’ answer that should prompt a follow-up question: How would you improve our website? Another candidate advised me via telephone that she didn’t know where our business was located so it was no surprise when she confessed that, though applying several before, she was trying again to ‘get her foot in the door’ (of the building she couldn’t locate).

questionBona fide job candidates worth pursuing have done at least a night’s worth of background work on you, your leadership, your customers, your mission and your competition. And they likely have very frank feedback and observations. Ask them for it! It’s FREE!


Try it! Be prepared to answer THE QUESTION or, be prepared for the answers to THE QUESTION. You’ll be glad you did!

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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