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How to improve recruitment with one simple question

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In this final blog based on hostage negotiator Richard Mullender’s listening expertise, we look at how people can gain more insight into a person during the recruitment process by asking one simple question…

Richard says asking candidates one key question during recruitment can tell you a lot about how they work, and what they would need from you as a leader.

A question to revolutionise recruitment

Recruitment can be tricky. There is always the chance that, while a person looks great on paper, they might not fit in with your organisation’s culture.

At Appco UK’s skills-sharing workshop for entrepreneurs, Richard suggested that a key question to ask any potential new team member or contractor is: “Tell me about your best boss/mentor, and why you liked working or contracting for them?”

He said this one question could tell you a lot about how a person works, and what they would need from you as a leader.

Understanding the responses: what to listen for

The answers will range, but you need to know what to listen for, and how to interpret them.

If your interviewee says: “She was always there when I needed her,” that’s an indication that this person thrives on having a supportive leader.

An answer like “He left me to get on with things,” indicates a preference for independence and responsibility.

If they say, “She was very inclusive and respected everyone’s opinion,” you can see a person likes being treated as an equal.

Be clear about your recruitment objectives

When considering a new employee or contractor, Richard advised that recruiters need to be absolutely clear on two things:

  1. What you are looking for
  2. What you are willing to offer them.

As important as it is to have a clear idea of the new team member you are looking for, it is equally important to know what kind of leader you are. Be honest with yourself here – it might even be worth asking your current team or contractors why they like working/contracting with you to discover what they think of you as a leader or mentor.

If you like to give people responsibility and leave them to their own devices, bringing someone in who needs supervision and support is not wise.

Similarly, if you like to keep close tabs on your team, a person who wants to be independent probably won’t work as well for you either.

Tying it all together

Everyone has their own nuances, quirks and skills to develop, and obviously there is no perfect recipe to mitigate all risk when bringing in a new team member or contractor. However, using this one simple question in conjunction with your current processes should give you a deeper insight into a potential new employee or contractor.

 

Hostage negotiator Richard Mullender spoke about the power of listening and the importance of clear communication at a skills-sharing event for entrepreneurs, hosted by Appco UK. His session was so good, Appco decided to dedicate a series of three blogs to look in more detail at what we can learn from this communication expert.