From the Ask Tom mailbag –
In the Four Absolutes, under Required Behaviors, you talk about habits. How do you interview for habits?
Habits are routine grooved behaviors kicked in by the brain in an approach to problem solving or decision making. To set the context, here are the Four Absolutes (required for success in any role).
- Capbility (stated in time span)
- Skill (technical knowledge, practiced performance)
- Interest, passion (value for the work)
- Required behaviors
Under Required Behaviors, there are three strings attached.
- Contracted behaviors
To be successful in any role, there are some required behaviors. When I interview a candidate, I examine the role description, in each key result area (KRA), I identify the critical role requirements (required behaviors) and identify the habits that support and the habits that detract.
We all have habits that support our success, we also have habits that work against us.
Reading the resume
Habits are patterns. Read the resume from the back page to the front page. Most resumes are written in reverse chronological order, very tough to see a pattern going backward.
Identify the habit, then look for it
When I hire for a project manager, one habit I look for is planning vs improvisation. Improvisation is fun, but creates chaos. Improvisation may get the job done (once), customer may be very happy, but the cost is organizational body bags and friction, negatively impacting project profitability.
Effective project managers possess the habit of planning. Planning is a behavior that I can interview for. I will look for patterns of planning behavior as I move through the resume from past to present. Then I specifically look for planning behavior with specific questions.
- Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where planning was required?
- What was the project?
- How long was the project?
- What was the purpose of the project
- How many people on the project team?
- What was your role on the project team?
- At what point during the project did planning begin?
- Step me through the planning process for the project?
- What was the form of the plan? written? whiteboard? verbal?
- How was the plan used during the course of the project?
- How often was the plan referred to during the course of the project?
- How were revisions to the plan handled during the course of the project?
- How were revisions to the plan documented during the course of the project? written? whiteboard? verbal?
- What were the results of the project in comparison to the original plan?
- Step me through the debrief (post mortem) of the project in relation to the plan?
- What did you learn from the project debrief that impacted your plan on the next project?
Habits are those routine grooved behaviors automatically initiated by the brain in response to a problem that must be solved or a decision that must be made. -Tom