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Getting Curious Method

Suppose you just asked someone the third screening interview questions - "What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally?" - and the candidate replied, "I am not great at dealing with conflict."
The fact is, not dealing with conflict can mean a lot of different things. Does the candidate cower when under attack? Does he run for the hills? Or does he live in the hills so that he never gets attacked? Here's a chance to get curious using the "What? How? Tell me more." framework. Let's see how this particular conversation might play out.
"What do you mean?" you ask.
"I mean I am conflict-avoidant"
"How so?" you ask again.
"Well, I guess I avoid situations where I know people are going to get upset."
"What is an example of that?"
"There was this one time where I had two employees who were not getting along. One guy had a habit of yelling at this woman. I had a hard time dealing with that."
"How did you deal with it?" you ask
"I finally pulled him aside and hold him that he had to stop. He didn't, so I pulled him aside again and told him I would have to fire him if he did it again."
"What happened?"
"He did it again."
"Tell me more."
"He blew up at this poor woman for not shipping the right product to a key customer. I felt really bad for her."
"What did you do?"
"I pulled him aside again and repeated my threat to fire him."
"How did you feel?"
"Terrible. I didn't sleep for a week leading up to the conversation. I felt like I was getting an ulcer."
"What happened next?"
"Nothing. He calmed down on his own. Then I was transferred out of the department a month later, so I got lucky. I didn't have to deal with it."
Notice how short and simple all the questions are. None of them is longer than six words. They all play off the previous statement the candidate made. And look at what we learned about this fellow. Would you fire him for a key management job where a lot of change was needed?
Sure, it can seem like you are probing a lot, but this is a key step in an important WHO decision that can affect your entire company. When yo have no idea what else to ask, just say, "Tell me more". They will keep talking. We promise.

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