When Bad Is Good

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Look past the accomplishments on a job candidate’s résumé and explore the stuff that never gets bullet-pointed: failures, mistakes and bad decisions.

September 01, 2003

 

Bob Piper, Principal, The Talon Group

Look past the accomplishments on a job candidate’s résumé and explore the stuff that never gets bullet-pointed: failures, mistakes and bad decisions. A good candidate should be able to recite them just as quickly as his/her accomplishments. Here are two questions that explore both:

What are the best and worst things supervisors, peers and staff would say about you? Whatever the perceptions, the fact that the candidate is aware they exist is the first step. Follow-up question: What is your opinion of such praise or criticism, and have you taken steps to improve or change?

What are some of the best and worst business decisions you’ve made? Look for evidence that the candidate has taken professional risks, made mistakes and (hopefully) learned something. Lack of a "worst" answer might indicate lack of awareness or decision-making ability, low risk tolerance or a "buck stops anywhere but here" mind-set. Not exactly the traits of top candidates, are they? Ownership, humility and objectivity are valuable traits in all candidates.

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