If you asked most showrooms what their biggest challenge is, personnel is the answer almost all of the time. A record-breaking 4.53 million American workers quit their jobs in March of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and unemployment hovers at historically low numbers of about 3.5%. How can you attract and retain talent that is the best match for your team and your culture? Know the right questions to ask when you interview prospective employees, explains University of Pennsylvania Professor and author of Originals Adam Grant.
Grant believes most job interviewers ask questions that are too easy to answer or prompt the candidate to tell the interviewer what they want to hear. It’s easy to fake a response to questions such as what is your greatest strength, weakness, goal, etc., explains Grant. Instead, he advises that interviewers ask behavioral questions such as “Tell me about a time when a project did not achieve desired results. What happened?” Past behavior can predict future behavior. Another technique to gain behavioral insight is to ask “what if” questions such as what would you do if an angry homeowner stormed into your showroom to complain that their cabinets were not the color they wanted. What would you do if a subcontractor missed a deadline or did not perform to your standards or expectations? What would you do if your team did not show up to the homeowner on time?
Noted HR consultant Ed Kelly defined a resume as a balance sheet without liabilities. Interviewers tend to focus on the wrong criteria, explains Grant. People tend to like people who like the same things as themselves. If you are a fan of a professional sports team you will be attracted to a prospective team member who also is a fan of that team. Grant points out that having a birthmark, being pregnant or overweight can put job applicants at a disadvantage. “And believe it or not, bald men are seen as having more leadership potential if they shave their head.”
You can avoid inherent biases by identifying the skills that a candidate must have to perform the jobs and creating a standard set of behavioral and situational question that are asked of every applicant. Grant advises that you pose the same questions to your top performing team members and compare their question responses to those of job applicants.
A third problem is to see through the best communicators. Almost everyone that wants the position you have available will stretch their qualifications and experience. They are selling themselves and the best salespeople often win. To overcome a bias for more effective communicators, ask candidates to provide examples of their work. It may be from another showroom that they worked at previously or a procedure that they developed to improve efficiency.
Most restaurant owners will ask a prospective chef to prepare a meal. Actors have to audition to obtain their roles. If you are hiring a designer, ask them to design a kitchen. If you are hiring a salesperson, have the candidate convince you to buy a rotten apple, suggests Grant.
Bottom line is resumes and experience are misleading especially if candidates are not motivated, don’t have the willingness and ability to think creatively and do not want to be part of a high-performing team.