As a hiring professional, you will likely have to look at many types of candidates, some of which will be low-performing individuals.
Most underperformers will be filtered out before they get to the interview process. However, that does not mean you will not have these individuals on the short list of potential hires. This can happen for several reasons including inaccuracies on their resume or they are particularly good at selling themselves. As an interviewer there are some tools you can use to identify underperformers during an interview.
Pay attention to what tense the interviewee is speaking in. It has been found that high-performing individuals are 40 percent more likely to speak in past tense. ‘I did…’ allows the candidate to own their experience. High performers are basing their responses on actual experiences and many are more comfortable and confident. Underperformers have shown a tendency to use present and future tense when in the interviewing process. If the person is “fluffing” their experience they will say ‘doing’ or ‘will do’ without showing ownership for things they have actually done in the past. When looking at candidates, you should be cautious of those saying what they are doing or will be doing and focus more on those who tell you what they ‘did’ in the past.
High performers are much more likely to use first person pronouns in interview responses, which help maintain a focus on what they did and not what others have done. Underperformers will use second person pronouns or plurals such as ‘she did’ or ‘we did’ in order to hide or embellish their own experiences. The key is to be wary of candidates who focus too much on what others have done and not enough on their own achievements.
Performance: Past, Present and Future
Asking specific questions about past experiences can give an insight into possible future performance. Approaching candidates with questions about significant achievements and pivotal moments in their career can provide a wealth of information on the potential of future performance. Underperformers are going to struggle answering these types of questions.
Testing a candidate’s skills in an interview can also help identify underperformers. Asking a candidate to solve a problem or complete a task may give insight into their compatibility with a specific job opening and what type of performance you could expect from that candidate in the future.
The Last Chance
After an interview, you may tell a candidate they are not the right fit for the position. Almost all people will concede immediately saying things like “Thank you for the opportunity.”
The rare candidate who comes back and says, “I think you are wrong” and provides reasons to back it up will be the winner. It shows they won’t give up, which is really what most employers want in the end. The best candidates will shine through the underperformers as long as you are asking the right questions and listening for the key factors in their responses.
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