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“Getting to know them, getting to know what you need to know.” is an article written by Caroline Taylor, RN and President of Taylor Made Diagnostics.  The article was written to help Employers in creating a Cohesive team to which could be a company’s roadmap to success.  The article was published in Inside Business – The Hampton Roads Business Journal, Tuesday, June 2, 2015


According to a study provided by Leadership IQ, 46 percent of hired applicants will fail within 18 months, and 19 percent will achieve unequivocal success.

Does success or failure tie into technical expertise? One would think so, but no.

Poor interpersonal skills are the main reason for job failure. In search of the right fit for your company, remember that you are hiring for both skill and excellence in attitude.

Typically, the interviewing process focuses on technical skill for just about every job position, and while that must be critiqued and qualified, the real issues are about coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament. Do technical skills tip the scale when you have an employee who demonstrates aggressive behavior, avoids team-building activities and is generally not willing to accept and complete job responsibilities? At Taylor Made Diagnostics, we test for skill prior to an interview.

After the skill of a candidate has been validated, I meet with and interview every single applicant. No one has the authority to hire independently. As time-consuming as it can be, it is the most important responsibility to make sure I am hiring the right fit for our culture and behaviors. Our success in the hiring process has allowed us to retain more than 68 percent of our workforce for 10 years or more.

So why is focusing on the interview process so important? Poor interpersonal skills are the main reason for new hire failure. Fortune and Forbes have reported that 26 percent of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23 percent because they are unable to understand and manage their emotions, 17 percent because they lack motivation to excel, 15 percent because they have the wrong temperament for the job and only 11 percent because they lack the technical skills required for the position.

With this in mind, you can see why it is so important to hire employees who are coachable. Coachable employees can accept and implement feedback and direction from their leadership, management and supervisor teams. A high-performance workplace is dependent on employees who have that innate ability. I recommend “Hiring for Attitude: Research & Tools to Skyrocket Your Success Rate,” by Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, as must-read.

The four specific questions to determine coachability that I use have been effective every time I interview candidates. I can’t say enough about how cognizant I am regarding what I am looking for in an employee.

Once you have determined and established the attitudes and behaviors that are a must for your company, you can begin with the questions that identify how coachable a candidate is. I use a structured process that leads the applicant to believe that I will validate the information provided.

My first question begins like this, “Tell me the name of your recent boss and please spell their name.” At this point, the candidate assumes you will contact their past employer, so they should be as honest and clear as possible.

My second question is, “Tell me something about Mr. XX as a boss.” These answers give the interviewer a hint regarding what that applicant is looking for in a boss. If they say he was a micromanager and didn’t give clear directions on assignments, you better be prepared to be specific on assignments and provide autonomy and independence.

I look for responsibility as part of a team attitude and ask, “What’s something you could have done differently to enhance your relationship Mr. XX?” Does the candidate take ownership or responsibility for that working relationship? Negative or positive answers may help determine if they are aware of how their attitude and decisions impact the outcome of that relationship.

Identifying what characteristics are important to your business values and culture will be the most important use of your time. Here are some tips on how to interview with those characteristics:

  1. Ask questions directly related to your values and culture.
    For example, if you are looking for flexibility, ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to stay later than scheduled.” If the candidate responds that she made arrangements, understanding that it happens so there isn’t a problem if she needs to, you can check that box on flexibility.
  2. Knowing a candidate’s strengths and weakness as well as how they feel about them is critical.
    Ask, “When I talk with Mr. XX, what will he say about your strengths?” More than likely, the candidate will give the true opinion of her strengths that she acknowledged from her past employer. Stating that all people have areas they can improve and asking what the candidate’s former employer will say about her weaknesses can result in a strong warning to you. If she says, “I can’t think of anything” – run. To thine own self be true, and evidently, truth is not a strong point for this candidate.
  3. Use some hanging questions.
    I ask “Tell me a time when you were asked to do an assignment outside of your job role.” Never hint and persuade by clarifying the question. What you are looking for is the willingness to support a goal or your team that may not be a defined responsibility, but it shows the willingness within the candidate’s skill set to help accomplish and meet a company need.
  4. You can be as creative as you want.
    Make it fun and engaging. I love this part of what I do because building a cohesive team begins with knowing your team.

Everyone who is offered a position takes the Strengths Finder online survey. The cost is $10 per survey, but the information is priceless. This survey takes 20 minutes but provides me and my leadership team the valuable information regarding the candidate’s five top strengths out of 34 total strengths surveyed.

Getting to know your candidates will make all the difference in the success both you and your new hire will experience. Remember, it is important for the candidate to know what is important to you for the position. If placed primarily for technical ability skills, with little regard for matching strengths and attitudes in relationship to the entire team, both of you may be disappointed.

If you plan your interview process well, instead of a 20 percent chance of hiring a high performer, you will have a 40 percent chance of hiring the right person who will make valuable contributions to your organization.

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Caroline Taylor, RN, is founder and president of Taylor Made Diagnostics Inc., an occupational health services company celebrating 20 years of serving nearly 1,000 clients throughout Hampton Roads. She can be reached at (757) 494-1688.

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