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matrix vision newsletter
Interviewing Skills Issue
September, 2009 - Vol 2, Issue 9
In This Issue
Behavioural Interviewing
Employee Motivation Worksheet
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Story of the Month
On hearing one of his students use the expression, "I don't know nothing about it..." a teacher took the opportunity to explain about double negatives and correct grammar to the class.
The teacher explained, "In the English language a double negative makes the statement positive, so your assertion that you 'don't know nothing about it' is actually an admission that you do know something about it."
Encouraged by the interest in this revelation among certain class members, the teacher went on to demonstrate more of his knowledge of world languages: "Of course not all languages operate according to the same grammatical rules, for example, in Russian, a double negative remains negative, although perhaps surprisingly, there is not a single language anywhere in the world in which a double positive makes a negative.."
At which a voice from the back of the classroom called out ironically "Yeah, right.."

Interviewing Quotes
"Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."
Frank Zappa
"Confidence has a lot to do with interviewing - that, and timing." 
Michael Parkinson
"Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.." 
Katherine Hepburn

"The interview is an intimate conversation between journalist and politician wherein the journalist seeks to take advantage of the garrulity of the politician and the politician of the credulity of the journalist." 
Emery Klein

"To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation."
Chinese Proverb

"The key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions."
John Simone

Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for September.  This month's newsletter is focussed on the skill of interviewing and how managers and leaders in a business can use this skill to find and develop good people.  
This newsletter presents some tips and tools on how to be better at interviewing as well as some key applications of the skill.  We have articles including:
  • the key skills of interviewing focussing on the summary,
  • how to use behavioural interviewing to select good people and
  • using a tool for understanding the motivation of your employees,

Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us.  We would love to talk with you.
Interview 1The definition of an interview is a somewhat formal conversation in which facts or statements are elicited from another and information is exchanged.
Interviewing is a key tool that managers use when they have a one on one discussion with their employees.  It is a tool used in performance planning and review, development and discipline discussions, as well as the recruitment interview. The key to any successful interview is to get the interviewee to open up. There are a number of skills that contribute to being an effective interviewer.  The major skills are Active Listening, Effective Questioning, Using Minimal Encourages to Speak and The Use of Summaries. 
In this newsletter we will focus on the summary.
When an interviewer uses a summary they, tie together and restate what they have heard.  It may be a short summary of the previous few sentences because they seemed particularly important, or it may be an attempt to recall and state (as they see it) all the important aspects of the interview or of the whole selection procedure.  An interviewer hopes to achieve a number of things through this. 
  1. To demonstrate to the interviewee that they have been attending and trying to understand.
  2. By stating what they have understood to check that their understanding is correct.  If they are wrong the interviewee will normally correct them, or go on to further clarify the situation.
  3. To crystallise for the interviewee what they have said, and in doing this possibly lead them to discuss the topic further.
The summary operates at two levels - content and feeling.  At the content level you summarise what you understand to be the important facts of the situation.  You might say:

"So throughout the day you chop and change from one thing to another because of all the interruptions."
At the feeling level you may want to summarise for the interviewee what you have understood to be his motivations and reservations about the way he organises his day and you might say:
"As I understand it then, you feel frustrated because of the lack of continuity in your job."
In this statement you may have interpreted what you have heard and are giving the interviewee the chance to explore and crystallise their feelings as well as the chance to disagree, i.e. to check your own perceptions, and to gain their agreement.
WHEN TO USE THE SUMMARY:  the following situations are often appropriate for a summary.  (It is generally useful at several appropriately timed points in the interview to give your interviewee a summary of what you have heard them say or feel). 
  1. To commence an interview by summarising the previous interview or the procedure thus far.
  2. When the interviewee has said something you felt was particularly important and you want to check your understanding.
  3. When the interviewee has been rambling on a topic and you want to clarify the main points.
  4. To close off a topic when it seems that
    • the interviewee has said everything relevant or 
    • you need to check and gain agreement before moving on.
  5. At the end of the interview to indicate that you have heard and understood.
Note:  Use of the summary is a useful way to ensure that you are really listening actively.  If you know that you will use a summary later it is very important to ensure that you hear, recall, and understand the essence of the interviewee's story.

If you would like to build the your interviewing skills or those of your team  CLICK HERE
Behavioural Interviewing
Square Peg 
Finding good people is difficult and not finding them can be costly
There are many variables that have an impact on the hiring decision including: 
  • Time constraints that cause hasty decisions 
  • Informal or incomplete hiring process 
  • Unstructured interviews 
  • Novice or improperly trained interviewers 
  • Decisions based on intuition, assumptions, snap judgements and gut feelings
It is important that we make the right decision and get the right people because the cost of turnover is high.  Some of the costs are:
  • Recruiting expenditures/advertising
  • Time to screen and interview candidates multiplied by the number of people involved
  • Time and resources required to train the new employee
  • Loss of productivity due to learning curve of the new hire
  • Lack of achievement of required objectives
  • Loss of productivity from the people taking time from their regular duties while this is taking place
Not only that, there are other costs that turnover creates such as: low morale, frustration of good employees, conflicts, poor customer service, inappropriate behaviour, inefficient use of resources, decrease in productivity and possibly litigation.
How can we improve our hit rate? 
Spend more time interviewing? It is reported that in Japan, the average college graduate interviews for over 150 hours before being hired for an entry level job... 

For most of us spending more time on the process is not an option.  However we can improve our hit rate by improving our interview questions?

Studies have found that behavioural interviewing can more than triple the likelihood of predicting on-the-job performance.
As a result they should form the major component of our questions
What is Behavioural Interviewing? 
An approach to interviewing that looks at past behaviour as the best predictor of future performance... The secret is defining the competencies you are looking for and devising questions that give the interviewee an opportunity to tell about instances where they have displayed those competencies. 
Creating Behavioural Interview Questions 
Preface statements or questions with:
  • Provide an example of a time.....
  • Give me an instance when....
  • Tell me about a time....
  • Describe an example....
Customer Service
Tell me about the most difficult customer encounter you've experienced.  How did you handle it?
Describe for me a time when you asked for customer feedback to improve your service.
Problem Solving
Tell me about a time when you were able to identify a problem and resolve it before it became a major issue.
Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem with a group.  What role did you play and what was the outcome?
Managing People
Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed with your own tasks but still had to make yourself available to staff.  How did you do it?
Give me an example of a time when one of your staff made a serious mistake.  What did you do?
STAR Model 
The best model to use in Behavioural Interviewing is the STAR Model (Situation, Task, Actions, Result)
In order to probe their experience in a particular competency that you wish them to possess you must ask them to describe a specific situation where they used that competency.  Next you must probe the exact task that they are describing to ensure that it shows evidence of the competency.  To find out exactly what they contributed in the situation you must probe the action that they took.  Finally, in order to see the outcome of the their involvement in this situation you need them to describe the result achieved.
How does it work? 
An example of the flow of the questioning to probe the evidence of the candidates use of the competency you seek follows:
  • Think about an occasion when you ... (describe specific Situation) or Can you give me an example of ... ?(describe specific Situation)?
  • What needed to be done about that situation? (Tasks)
  • What did you do to resolve the situation or solve the problem? (Actions)
  • What was the outcome? (Result)
We can help you learn these techniques to enable you to select good people.  Give us a call. CONTACT US


Employee Motivation Worksheet
Motivation It's crucial for managers to find out what motivates each of their employees. Motivated employees are both more productive and more satisfied in their work. Not all employees are motivated in the same way, and what drives employees will change over time.
This discussion guide contains a list of questions to ask employees to determine what engages them. Integrate these questions into the interviewing process to discover motivations before the employee even starts the job. Also, use this discussion guide to have regular "pulse checks" with employees to determine their level of motivation or if you need to alter your approach to encouraging them.
Employees will not stay with a company very long if they are not motivated to do their jobs. It is important to discover what motivates individuals before they even start with the organisation, during the interview process. The following list of interview questions can help determine an employee's motivational match for a position.
  1. Tell me about a time when you handled a project that you found satisfying. What was the situation and why was it satisfying?
  2. Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that you found dissatisfying. What was the situation and why was it dissatisfying?
  3. Give me examples of job experiences that you felt were satisfying.
  4. Do you have short-term and long-term goals for yourself? Are they realistic? Did you accomplish them last year?
  5. What kinds of things can a manager do to motivate his or her staff?
  6. Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the actions of others. How did you do it? What were they able to accomplish?
  7. How do you motivate yourself to do unpleasant tasks?
  8. Give me an example of a time you went above and beyond what was asked of you.
  9. How would you define success for someone in your profession? 

American Society of Training and Development

We can help you apply these techniques in your team.  Give us a call.  CONTACT US

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Matrix Vision is a value added reseller and a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today.
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We can work with you to develop the the feedback survey that suits your needs using our survey items or your own or a combination.
To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.

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To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help improve your team, please  contact us 

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All the Best,
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Barry McMaster
Matrix Vision Pty Limited