The Likelihood of Success

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

So, how do you interview for someone with the capability to think into the future?

Capability is like attitude. I cannot interview for attitude and I cannot interview for capability. I can only interview for behaviors connected to attitude and capability.

First, is the capability to think into the future, a requirement for the role? Most supervisory and managerial roles require this capability, so this is a fair area for exploration.

My bias is to ask ONLY questions about the past. I do not want the candidate to speculate or make stuff up. No hypotheticals or theories. I have enough trouble deciphering real facts from the past.

  • Tell me about a time when (my favorite opening question), you worked on a project that took some time to complete, one that required several steps with a number of moving parts?
  • How long did the project take?
  • What was the purpose of the project? The goal for the project?
  • How many people were involved?
  • Step me through the planning process?
  • Was the plan written or just in your head?
  • How was the plan shared with the project team?
  • What was your role in preparing the plan?
  • As the plan was executed, what factors pushed the plan off course?
  • Tell me how the plan accounted for factors that pushed the plan off course?
  • How did the project team respond to changes in the plan?
  • How were decisions made in response to changes in the plan?
  • How did those changes impact the budget for the plan?
  • How did those changes impact the schedule for the plan?
  • How did those changes impact the overall results of the plan?

The responses to these questions will give the interviewer insight into behaviors connected with capability to think into the future, not just think, but make decisions, solve problems, execute into the future? These responses are fact-based and do not require interpretation, yet provide evidence, which can be verified in a cooperative reference check.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. All I have to do, as an interviewer, is to find out how the candidate behaved in the past. There is great likelihood the candidate will behave the same way when they come to work for you.

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