How to interview a man
Now that I am retired I can happily write this article. Many people have seen and commented on the outstanding quality of people I have hired into my organizations. If you happen to be one of those people I salute you. The people I have hired without exception have been very nice additions to the organizations that I have hired them for. Many went on to far surpass what I ever did with my career, some owing successful business others climbing the ladder of success. In the story below I am going to reveal how I hired the best men for the job. I will write another article on hiring great women. Men and women are different so I interview them significantly different.
Hiring the right person is the most critical part of being a manager. If you have good people then managing is easy. Managing a bad apple can be a nightmare. I never hired a bad apple. The people who I found difficult to manage were hired by someone else.
Today there are a lot of automated steps some companies use to get good employees. Some of them are really pretty good but they tend to hire people with the same mind set and eliminate some of the best people for the job. I always want the best person working for me. I like diversity of opinion.
Many people I have hired commented on my interview techniques. I know you very well when you leave the interview. If you get the job I know you will be a success.
What are the steps to interviewing a man?
First I must say I expect personnel to have done some vetting before the man gets to me. I expect that he will have the degree and professional experience to be considered. I of course have gone over the resume and cover letter and anything else relevant to the interview. I am more interested in a man’s character than qualifications at this point.
The Bataan Death March the first step!
During the Bataan Death March as I call it I take the man through as long of a walk as I can. I will go through parts of a factory, up and down stairs and whatever is available as long as it is permitted by the company and it is not too noisy to talk. My first questions are “Did you have any trouble getting here?” “How was traffic?” These questions are great for finding out what makes the man tick. At this point I am looking for a complainer or a blamer. I had one guy tell me that he was worried about being late because his mom did not shovel the driveway! Guess what this guy didn’t get the job. I had another guy complain about his wife’s parking the car not putting gas in the car and leaving her goodies in the car. Guess what he did not get hired either.
I will make comments such as “I wish this floor was not so bumpy” or “I wish they had more selection in the cafeteria what they have is good and reasonable”. Again I am looking for positive or negative responses.
I will point things out along the way and ask questions about things we see. I will be looking for signs of negativity and blaming. I want to see curiosity and interest in the company. I may point out something such as a guy on the line tighting bolts all day. I might say “I could never do that job day after day. I admire someone who could do that.” Again I am looking for signs of negativity in the answer. I really hope someone from my company will stop and talk to me during this walk. After the conversation I will make a comment about the person who stopped us as we are walking along. I will say something personal about the guy such as he is my neighbor or his wife died in an auto accident last month as long as it is true and not gossipy. Again I will look for his reaction.
By the time this walk is over I am close to making my decision.
The interview room
I like a closed door room where we can talk. I am going to ask one or all of my big three questions. I will ask them until I hear what I am looking for.
What can you tell me about yourself professionally and personally?
What is important to you?
Why are you interested in this job?
What do I want to hear? I want to hear about his family situation. I want to know if he has motivation to do this job. Things I like to hear. “My wife grew up here and we want to start a family.” “I can go fishing with my buddy’s.” and the greatest answer I ever heard was “Michigan Tech don’t have much is the line of women and I there are some nice gals in this town.” Which he said with a big smile and a gleam in his eye.
If a guy tells me briefly about God, church, or religion that is great! If he dwells on it the guy is not getting the job! I do not want to hear about politics at all. People who are consumed with politics tend to be argumentative. Once they get the job the like to talk about it. My company does pay people to do that!
If I do not hear about family or friends in a positive way the man is not getting the job. I had a guy tell me his model airplanes were the most important part of his life. He told me all about his air shows and clubs as I acted interested. The only time he mentioned another person in his life was a guy at his club that he complained about. I don’t care how qualified this guy was he was not getting in my department.
So why did I think “Michigan Tech don’t have much is the line of women and I can’t wait to live where there are some women.” is such a great answer? First it shows honesty. Secondly it shows an interest in the jobs location. Third it shows logical judgement as it relates to a very emotional issue. (He is choosing to look for a suitable woman where women are more abundant.). Finally it shows enthusiasm with his smile and a gleam in his eye. I suppose it did not hurt to be a graduate of my Alma matter.
The technical stage of the interview.
During the technical stage of the interview I will look at the resume. I will ask questions about the positions he has held. I will always be happy to hear he has the experience I need. I always ask “What did you like about this job and why did you dislike it". To me this is a grey area but I learn by people telling me their experiences and challenges.
Experience counts for something in my book, successes count for a lot more. I want people on my team who are successful without taking advantage of others.
Almost everyone has had a nasty boss or bad coworker who makes your life difficult or a person who went out of their way to help you succeed. I like hearing those stories.
If I don’t think you are a good fit the interview is over unless I want to confirm in my mind what I already know. I will talk about the company and the department a bit. The job, what we do, what I am looking for and so on.
Then comes the real questions!
If he is still under consideration he gets tough questions. My favorite question especially for technical people is one most people have little experience with. I ask “What do you know about the effects of overhauling loads on variable frequency drives.” There have been a very few men that actually have a grasp of this concept. And those that do I salute you! I will ask you another question you don’t know the answer to. I have a lot of them for every interview. What I am looking for is how a man will answer when he does not know. A man who tries to snow me in the interview will try to snow me when he is working for my organization. I don’t want the man in my department. What I want to hear is “I really don’t know” or better yet “Let me guess”. Some of the guesses are quite creative and tell me a lot about your background.
At this point I know what makes the man tick.
Ending the interview
Lastly I will ask if the man if he has any questions. Personally I don’t care if he has any or not. I will try to answer any I can being as noncommittal as I can be unless I want and can hire him on the spot. It sure is fun to offer a man who needs a job a nice position on the spot.
After the interview I walk the man to the door and tell him the personnel department will be in contact with him and he is free to contact them. I don’t want people nagging me for a job. I shake his hand and wish him well. If the interview went well I will smile and say perhaps we shall see you in a couple of weeks.
I interview a woman differently. I am a better judge of character of men than women so I need help and I know how to get it. I want the best person for the job. I will be writing how to interview a woman in my next blog.