Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Uncomfortable Truth About Hiring

The Uncomfortable Truth About Hiring




Eric M. Twiggs


“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” –Brian Tracy

“Jeff”, a shop owner in Southern California, was stuck working IN the business.  Since HE was the service manager, He couldn’t attend his son’s soccer games.  It was so bad, that when his wife would take little Jeff the games, men were asking her out on dates. 

They thought she was a single parent, because Jeff was never with her!  But everything was about to change because he had finally found “Bob” the service manager candidate he had been looking for. 

Bob had responded to Jeff’s craigslist ad and passed the face to face interview with flying colors. He arrived on time wearing a sharp suit.   Bob took the wonderlic personality test, and scored as an ideal fit for the role. 

Bob even took the time to write Jeff a hand written thank you note, thanking him for the opportunity to interview.  The final step of the process was for Jeff to check Bob’s references.  Based on how things were going, Jeff saw this as a mere formality.  

Jeff called   Bob’s former Boss and here’s how the call went: {Jeff} “So Bob worked for you from January of 2008 to May of 2012?” {Boss}:” YES”  {Jeff} “Good! Bob tells me that he was your service manager for that entire time.” {Boss} Yes. {Jeff} “Great! Knowing what you know today, would you rehire Bob?”  {Boss} ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! 

He went on for the next fifteen minutes talking about all the customer complaints he had to clean up after Bob left him without giving notice.   How was Jeff so wrong about Bob?  It’s because he ignored the uncomfortable truth about hiring.

And here it is: When evaluating a candidate, their past performance is the strongest predictor of future behavior.  I have found this to be true based on having conducted more than one thousand interviews over the past twenty years. 

During that time, I have noticed that most of the “job hoppers” I hired, ended up hopping jobs on me.   The candidates who said bad things about their former bosses, eventually said bad things about me.  By asking better questions, both Jeff and I would have made better decisions. 

So, what questions can you ask during the interview to get to the uncomfortable truth?  I will explain as you read on.
Tell Me More?


I was recently interviewing a candidate who told me that he left his most recent shop because there was a change in ownership.  I replied: Tell me more?  He then told me that the owner wanted to bring in someone younger to work with the customers.  I replied: tell me more? Next, he did what Bryan Stasch refers to as turning states evidence!  

He said the new owner terminated him for failing to meet his sales quotas, but he felt the real reason was his age!   By asking for more information, we moved from “a change in ownership” to the uncomfortable truth about his performance.    

During the interview, you will get to the truth faster if you commit to talking 20% of the time and allowing the candidate to talk 80%.  Low performers tend to talk in generalities, with the goal of hiding previous performance issues.  When you ask: “tell me more?”, they will feel compelled to provide the specifics you are seeking. 
What Will She Say WHEN I Ask?

In their book Who, The A Method of Hiring, Geoff Smart and Randy Street mention that the average hiring mistake can costs a company up to 12 times the salary of the individual, when you factor in the following costs:  Compensation, benefits, training, severance pay, lost customers, and lost opportunities. 

To help overcome this expensive mistake, Smart and Street provide a listing of excellent interview questions to help the reader.   There is one question that is very effective.

They recommend asking the candidate about their previous supervisor’s opinion of their performance as follows:  First, you ask the candidate for the name of their previous supervisor.  Let’s say her name is “Lisa.” Next, you would ask: “WHEN (not if) I call Lisa, what will she say WHEN I ask her to rate your overall performance on a scale of 1-10?” 

Adding the word WHEN sends the message that you’re going to check the reference. Knowing that you will verify whatever they say, can motivate them to provide an honest response.   The 1-10 question will get you a specific answer regarding their past performance.

According to Smart and Street, scores below an 8 should be considered as red flags.  Asking this question about multiple references will give you a clearer picture of the prospect.



 I am happy to report that Jeff learned from this experience, and started using the earlier mentioned questions during his interviews.  He eventually hired a strong service manager, who has freed him up to attend his sons Soccer games. 

If you commit to asking the right questions, listening to the answers, and hiring the right people, will you be STUCK working IN your business?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!   


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  For a complete list of the latest interview questions that will get you to the uncomfortable truth, email and I will send them.