Let’s suppose you are in business for yourself, that all your hiring decisions are your own, and further, all your success or failure depends entirely upon those hiring decisions. Presently, you are accepting applications for the position of General Manager, a key position within your organization. The General Manager is not the CEO. That’s your job. Rather, the GM is the executive that coordinates with Sales, Administration and Service. It is imperative the GM have experience coordinating all these departments, that he/she be diplomatic, able to inspire hard work and cooperation, exemplifying leadership and good decision making.
You have before you several qualified candidates, but one appears to be a standout for various reasons. He has run large organizations for many years, and is by all accounts very successful. He has shown an aptitude for managing very large projects requiring the coordination of many moving parts. His references are exemplary. And he presents himself very well.
Still, there are nagging doubts.
Observing the candidate over time, and checking other references, you find a pattern of constant conflict. Reports from reliable sources confirm the candidate has a tendency to fight with others. Furthermore, it is reported he never overlooks an offense, and seems to perceive offense where none exists. Several former managers and coworkers report the man tends to hold a grudge, and almost without fail, he seeks revenge, it is alleged.
So to confirm or dismiss these concerns you book a third interview with this candidate. In past interviews he has impressed, promising tremendous growth and huge success. You admit he inspires. But now, you are looking for something deeper, something to indicate character, maturity, finesse and diplomacy.
After all, your entire business, and your children’s future, ride on this hiring decision.
The candidate is late for the interview, apologizing, claiming traffic delayed his arrival. Overlooking this you invite him to take a seat and offer coffee. Then you ask your first question:
“Tell me about a time when you were falsely accused by an employee? What did you do? How did it turn out?”
The candidate immediately recalls such an incident. He launches into a tirade about the employee. He condemns her from stem to stern, sharing the unfair press coverage generated, the damage to his reputation, and the lawsuit that followed. He boasts about how he fired back and “handled” the situation, getting the employee fired and defeating her in court, then filing a counter suit. He concludes saying her demise was his reward, that most people don’t remember such trivialities so long as your escort is gorgeous and your bank account is enormous.
“Tell me, if you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?”
“Not a thing,” he says. “I never second-guess myself, and I never reconsider, because I always know going in that I’m right. It’s a gut thing. You have to trust your gut.”
“Have you had to contend with situations like this frequently?”
“Yes. When you are successful and outspoken, people come after you all the time. You have to hit back twice as hard. There are a lot of scumbags out there.”
Concluding the interview, you thank him for his time, assuring him you will be in touch.
To yourself, you thank him for making your decision for you.