Thursday, October 10, 2013

Statement Analysis in Job Interviewing

Statement Analysis in Job Interviewing
 by Peter Hyatt

We use "Analytical Interviewing" (interviews based upon the analysis of a written statement) or "Discourse Analysis" (statement analysis 'on the fly') in our interviews of potential employees.  Businesses for profit want the best and brightest.  Bureaucracy seeks those who pose the least threat, therefore, they often hire and promote the lesser talented. (sometimes the least talented)

Business insider did an article from Michael Murphy's research, which goes hand and hand with Statement Analysis techniques, where intelligence tests were given to job applicants.  They were also carefully observed in the interview

1.  Long silence.

This awkward feel gets the subject speaking as the subject is attempting to win a job.  Once the subject speaks, we learn from them what we need to learn.  This is tough on the applicant, but it works.  They are there to impress, so they've got to speak up.  By speaking up, we take careful note of where they begin, and their use of pronouns.  This does not work with all interviews; particularly law enforcement interviews where the subject is unwilling to speak; it satisfies the desire to conceal information.  A job applicant is eager to impress, therefore, will be willing to speak out.

2.  Pace Setting.  Trivial questions causing the subject to be honest, setting a pace for honesty.  "Your last supervisor, how do I spell his name?" causes the subject to consider that you might call the supervisor, therefore, the subject better be honest.  I use trivial matters, even though the answers are on the job application before me, just to get the pace going.  This works well in all manner of interviewing.

3.  Problem Solvers versus Problem Bringers:

We want to hire someone who will solve problems.  We do not want someone who will bring difficulties to our companies.

How can we discern the difference?

We generally ask, either verbally, or in writing, for the job applicant (subject) to tell us about a particularly challenging situation he or she faced.  We do not include, "and how did you resolve it?" in the presentation.

We then listen to hear if the applicant will go on to a resolution, or simply state the problem or challenge faced.

  By listening, you will know if the applicant is a problem solver, or one who brings problems to the work place.

Problem solvers, by personality, like resolution.  Problem bringers like to look around, complain, and see how it impacts others.  Misery loves company.  These are "inertia" employees; better suited for a bureaucracy than a for profit business.

4.  Pronouns.   Here we go!

Pronouns don't lie, and are our best friends.  Those who answer with the pronoun, "I" (strong commitment)  tested at the highest level, with those who answer "you" and "he" testing very low.  (The lowest was the awkward use of neutral pronouns.  I cannot even imagine how badly this sounds).

5. Qualifiers.   Those with confidence will use few, if any, qualifiers when they answer questions.  "I am a good addition to this company" instead of "I think I might be a good candidate..."  Those with low use of qualifiers tested higher.  The low scorers did not really believe their assertions.  If someone only "thinks" that he "might" be good, well, we might think differently in business.

6.  Verbs.   Those who used the pronoun, "I" and connected themselves to the events using past tense verbs scored highest.  This passes Statement Analysis commitment test for commitment and truth.  It is a strong likelihood that the account the person is giving is truthful if he connects himself  to it via the use of a past tense verb and the pronoun, "I" in his sentence.  There is less odds that it is truthful if he uses a present tense verb, or drops his pronoun.  This leads to:

7.  Passivity.  High scorers used active voice, indicating personal experience (and confidence) while those who scored low used passive voice (Statement Analysis would question the veracity of such answers).  Listen for passive responses.  Jobs don't just get done; someone does them.  When someone uses a passive voice, we often are concerned that responsibility or identity is an issue, and the same goes for the passive voice in some one's boasting of accomplishments:  it might not by their own accomplishments.  "Got sales up 30%" will lead most to hear "30%", while others, after training, will notice the missing pronoun.

8.  Ever Never:

A la Lance Armstrong who "never" used PEDs, yet, in all the years we covered him, was unable to say "I did not use PEDs", but substituted the word "never" even though he was speaking of a specific allegation.

Those who used "ever" and "never" were more likely to score low, as they are seen as exaggerators of their own abilities. "In that department, they never got things right."   Not likely.  Even a broken watch is right twice a day.


Suzanne said...

Peter, I love the "challenging situation" question to weed out the problem solvers/problem bringers! Being a "problem-solver" I didn't even notice that the question didn't ask for a resolution. I would have offered it, but I can see how a problem-bringer would be relieved the interviewer didn't ask that part, and just not offer a resolution. Very sneaky but very effective and practical! I will definitely use in interviewing others in the future. Thanks for the tip.

ME said...
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ME said...
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Jo said...

"Even a broken watch is right twice a day"

Love it!