How to find the truth when you’re interviewing


Every single applicant I’ve interviewed in the last 10 days claims to be a “team player” and “motivated by challenge.” I’m often surprised by how individuals who say they’re team players in interviews act divisively once hired and how those who say they want challenge complain when they actually face challenge. How do I find which of these applicants actually are team players and ready to be challenged?


Ask questions that drill down, such as, “What can you tell me that demonstrates your ability to operate as a member of a team?” and, “Give me an example of a challenge you faced that forced you to go above and beyond and what you did in response to that challenge.” When your applicants answer these questions, listen for specifics and not generalities.

You won’t, however, get “the rest of the story” until you conduct in-depth reference checks. Ask a minimum of two former supervisors for detailed information about each candidate, using questions such as, “What specifically tells you that this former employee was a team member?” and, “Give me an example of what happened when this job candidate faced a challenge that pushed him to truly stretch.”

©Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at


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