Did Curiosity Really Kill the Cat?

Curious Cat!

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Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “curiosity killed the cat” which serves as a warning against doing too much investigation or experimentation.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t curious about things.

When I was five years old, I wondered what those two small holes were in the wall. I was not aware of any of the properties of an electrical socket. So I went to the kitchen, got a small knife and stuck the knife into one of the holes. I wanted to see what would happen, if anything.

Well, something definitely happened.

Sparks flew out and completely singed my eyebrows. Add some black marks to my forehead and I was quite a sight.

When my dad got home and saw me, he asked me what happened. Before I could answer, my brother rushed in and demanded to know how I was going to be punished. My dad said, “he’s already been punished” and walked out of the room.

Yes, yes, I learned not to put a knife into an electrical socket.

What does this all mean from a hiring perspective?

From where I stand, being curious about things is an excellent quality.

Curious people find better and faster ways to get things done. They ask customers questions that reveal important facts that can help you improve service. Curious salespeople, in my humble opinion, close more sales.

Curious people want to learn more about what goes on around them. Let’s hope that quality never dies in any of us.

How can you tell how curious someone is?

The curious person will ask you about your end of things. Now, there are the usual questions applicants ask but if you find someone asking very specific questions and trying to get a better sense of how your company does business, then I see that as a plus.

There’s a response to the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” that we don’t often hear, but I’ll mention it here:

Satisfaction brought him back.



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The “You’re Not Qualified” Approach

Hire Me Sign

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Now this is probably more of a “trick” than an approach, but I read about this being used in a job interview and I can see how it could be effective.

Let’s set the scene.

You have someone in front of you that you believe IS qualified for the position. After you finish your interview, you sit back in your chair, sigh, and say, “Well, Alice, I do appreciate you taking the time to come in today, but it appears you are very unqualified for this position.”

And then you say nothing and wait for Alice to respond.

If Alice buckles and simply agrees, well, you’ve detected a lack of confidence on her part.

But she may protest and say, “With all due respect, I believe I’m more than qualified for the position.”

At which point, of course, you smile broadly and tell her you agree and that you were just kidding.

Yes, it’s a bit on the mean side, but you’ll definitely gain an insight into how confident your applicant is.

What if Alice frowns and says, “thank you for your time. I guess I’ll get going.”

Well, you’ve got two choices there. If you really like the candidate and the hit on her confidence didn’t bother you, you could blurt out that you were just kidding.

However, if her level of confidence was a deciding factor, then of course move on to your next applicant.

If you do hire Alice, she may think you’re a bit of an oddball for running an interview in that way, but hey, it’s your interview and it’s up to you to find out as much as you can about future performance.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


The “We’d Like to Keep You Here” Interview

Applicant with parachute

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We’re all familiar with the hiring interview, the one that convinces us to hire Fred. His résumé and test scores were great, his previous employers spoke highly of him and the interview went exceptionally well.

After Fred’s been with you for six months, you realize he’s everything you thought he’d be when you first hired him. He not only performs at a very high level, he gets things done ahead of time and inspires the staff around him. You breath a huge sigh of relief knowing that Fred is a fabulous fit for your company.

Now it’s time for another interview. Let’s simply call this the “We’d Like to Keep You Here” interview.

You might have this three months after you’ve hired Fred or nine months in. When you conduct this interview is up to you. But, I’d recommend doing this before you sense Fred might be looking elsewhere.

You want to find out where Fred is at in relation to his job, his coworkers and the company itself.

Of course you may not want to start this interview off by telling Fred the name we coined here for the interview.

And maybe you find out what you need to know without conducting a formal interview. You could take Fred out to lunch and in that informal environment find out what you need to know.

So, what do you need to know? Here are a few items to cover:

What do you enjoy about working with us?

What do you find challenging?

What do you like the least about your job?

Are there any co-workers you are having difficulty with?

What would you like to see improved or changed here?

Are you thinking about going elsewhere and if so, I’m prepared to quadruple your pay right now!

Well, scratch that last one.

Here’s the thing. Some of us have great staff that just hang in there with us forever and a year. And sometimes a gem of an employee has an itch to move on.

If Fred has that itch, you may not be able to do anything to keep him with you, but if you’re pro-active, you just may.

The questions above are a starting point in this. You want Fred to know you appreciate him and you appreciate his input. Not just on the day-to-day things, but also for the long view.

Sometimes it can be little, irritating things that cause our Fred to move on. And Fred may consider it unprofessional to make these things known.

Or maybe Fred has an idea that he thinks would be incredible for the company but doesn’t want to be presumptuous and keeps it to himself.

But you’re going to be pro-active, right? You’re going to find out what’s on Fred’s mind: good, bad and indifferent. And with that information, you’ll figure out what to do.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


How Long Do You Want To Work Here?

The Hiring Interview

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When someone applies for a fairly important position with you, do you want that person to be with you for many years?

Are you looking to hire that perfect or close to perfect individual that will grow with your company and 10, 15 years later is part of your “family,” someone you can completely rely upon?

Well, this is a great purpose to have for a new hire.

Of course we know that person is a real gem and may not show up tomorrow applying for a position with you.

And there’s another side to this coin.

What if the applicant just wants to work with your company for a year or two to be gainfully employed and acquire valuable experience?

Are you willing to consider this individual?

If you are, I recommend you discuss it as soon as possible in the interview. Not everyone comes to the hiring interview with long range goals in mind. In today’s economy and workplace a greater percentage of applicants likely do not.

If your applicant views his career with short term goals in mind, talk it through and, if you like everything else, you may have a great hire.

And who knows? Fifteen years later, your new staff member may still be with you…a tremendous asset and contributor.

At the very least, if the two of you have an understanding of how long you intend to be together, that can have a very positive effect right from the start.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


What Isn’t Fair?

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So let’s set the table.

“George, in your opinion, what about today’s work environment isn’t fair?”

I think there are three ways George can respond to the question:

George may sense it’s a “trap question” and not really answer it at all. He’ll avoid giving you a direct answer.

George may go on for several minutes about what he finds unfair. He didn’t get the raise or the promotion he thought he deserved. He was given assignments that he didn’t feel could get done in the time period allowed. He was asked to put in overtime without being properly compensated.

Here is the third way George might respond to the question:

“Well, I’ll admit there were situations at work that I found difficult to deal with. I decided the best way to deal with those situations was to communicate to the right people what I thought was happening. But I also knew that the kind of communication in those situations was very important. I realized that complaining to others—whether it was to other employees or my supervisors or the boss—well, that wasn’t going to be a good approach at all. I didn’t want to be known as a complainer. I didn’t want to be that guy who said, ‘it isn’t fair.’”

So, I’m thinking if you’d like an insight into how responsible your applicant is, ask him what isn’t (or wasn’t) fair and give the question some context.

It could just do the job.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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