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Who will you hire: 3 interviewing secrets


An interviewer asks 4 receptionist candidates this question. “We value a calm, quiet reception area so we don’t like the phone to ring constantly. How will you handle this need?”

Candidate #1: “Hire me. I will rip the phone out of the wall. No more ringing.”

Candidate #2: “Hire me. After talking to me, your callers will never phone back. Guaranteed quiet.”

Candidate#3: “Hire me. I’m experienced and will answer all calls within three rings. ”

Candidate #4: “Hire me. I’ll answer your calls quickly because I’m fully trained and experienced with your phone system. I also know its automatic call distribution option, and can help implement it, which will reduce the number of calls coming in. It will be calm and quiet, plus I’ll be more available for direct customer service.”

Use these 3 interviewing secrets to determine who gets the job:

1. There is only one job: problem-solver.

  • Candidates 1 and 2 incorrectly thought the problem was just about the noise. Candidate 1 got rid of the phones; Candidate 2 got rid of the callers.
  • Candidates 3 and 4 correctly identified the problem as needing to provide customer service (answer calls) and create a calm and quiet atmosphere.

Sometimes the problem isn’t obvious. When you are preparing for an interview, use your experience to brainstorm the kinds of problems you know of or imagine would occur.

Consider unspoken as well as identified issues. In this example, someone with receptionist experience would intuitively recognize that customer service is an important part of a front-line receptionist position.

Candidate 4 obviously did some research and learned that the company was researching system upgrades – a strategy that could help differentiate from the competition.

2. In the interview demonstrate that you can solve the problem.

  • Candidates 3 and 4 both demonstrated they could solve the problem. Candidate 3 had a no-frills solution and Candidate 4 had the “upgraded” solution.

If a company has invited you to an interview it is because they think you can do the job. At the interview, be sure to show them you can do the job, but you must also show that you understand the problem and know how to solve it.

3. The person who gets hired solves the problem the way the employer wants it done.

Just like Candidates 3 and 4, every job candidate brings a different viewpoint and approach to each job. Organizations tend to hire the candidate who best fits their concept of how they want the job done.

So who gets hired? How would you want things done? 

Which person would you hire at your real or pretend company – Candidate 3 or Candidate 4? Why?

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