Thursday, May 29, 2014

Statement Analysis in Job References

by Peter Hyatt

People are deceptive in most everything in life and wherever there is self interest, there is a choice:

Do I put myself first, no matter what ethical line I cross?


do I tell the truth, and rest upon my accomplishments thus far, knowing that I can still grow as a person?

This is something that is taught to children at a very early age, and it quite challenging to facilitate any necessary change in adulthood.  It is also something that will impact your company.  A liar, that is, one who will fabricate reality in order to put one's own needs first, will trouble your company in ways you might not have previously considered.

When I was young in school, I attended a private school that operated on the honor system.  If one cheated on a test, one was expected to tell the truth, and it was "honorable", culturally at the school, to withstand the repercussion of the offense, with silence.  This silence was, culturally, interpreted as dignity and grace.

The cheater was thus able to earn back the respect and esteem he had forfeited in his unethical method of gaining a higher grade then he deserved.

I note that within my own language, the use of the word "culture" twice, with the repetition signifying a sensitivity about the topic.

Why is it "sensitive"?

There is a different standard today as raw competition, that is, unhindered by elements of constraint, is seen differently than it was a generation ago.  The "means" are often justified by the end result, and if one has "won", then the victory is not questioned.  We see this in the "win at all costs" of defense attorneys today; truth (and justice) be damned, a "w" is all that matters.

Employers should recognize the change and measure the trend even upon reviewing applications and resumes for employment.

I strongly urge that a writing sample be obtained prior to investing the time to interview a future employee, and if such an interview does take place:

1.  The interview should be based upon analysis of the written statement (Analytical Interviewing)
2.  The interview should contain a scoring system which can be produced in the event a person sues the company for not hiring.

Analytical Interviewing is basically this:

A legally sound interview based upon analysis of a written statement.

It is non threatening, and it is non interpretive.  We recognize that each of us has an internal, personal, subjective dictionary and it is the job of the Interviewer to de-code this.  In Analytical Interviewing, we avoid interpreting one's words, instead rely upon the subject to explain anything that necessitate explanation, avoiding errant interpretation and miscommunication.

Recently, I was faced with an interesting situation.

A manager in charge of interviewing had said that "Statement Analysis is not legal to use in interviewing."

I countered with the United States Supreme Court's recognition that the "Reid Technique" (a brand name of the generic wording, "Statement Analysis") was, indeed, found to be legally sound, and that in Analytical Interviewing, there is no interrogation techniques, making it non-combative.  (Interrogation is interviewing with accusations and threats of consequence).

Rather than respond to the Supreme Court's decision, the manager pointed to his resume in which he was an "Instructor" for the "Maine State Police Academy", and knows what interviewing can be used in training and what cannot be.  This sounded absurd to me, which caused me to verify.

Maine does use Statement Analysis in training.

A simple call to the Academy would help me verify the resume's claim.

The Academy informed me that this manager was not an "instructor" for the Academy, but had come to the Academy to, quite basically, tell cadets what 800 number to call in the event that they need the assistance of social workers.

For the manager, this translated into being an "Instructor" on his resume.

It is a lesson for employers to receive:  verification.

Reference Calling.

Companies scoff at reference calling because they know that many applicants simply put down family or friends, even when asked for "professional references" but more so, they scoff because, today, culturally, most companies will not give a positive nor negative reference for an applicant, fearing lawsuit.

No one wants to be sued.  It can be costly to defend a frivolous lawsuit and if you are current with reading judge's decisions, you know that some of the most bizarre, legislative like decisions are rendered all over the country.  It's unpredictable.  Where as once, a person was only a "partial" person, which was later condemned as racist, in some counties in the United States, this same "3/8ths of a person" or "5/8ths of a person" is being used in voting.  The bottom line is this:  no one wants to be sued, no matter how foolish the claim may be.

Here is where Statement Analysis can shine.

When I call for a reference, 9 times out of 10, the company being called declines to give a reference.

"I'm sorry but according to our policy, we do not give job references.  We can only confirm that the person worked for us."

The song begins to play in my head...

"Do you hear what I hear?"

Are you listening?

I'm sorry but according to our policy, we do not give job references.  We can only confirm that the person worked for us."

When I hear the words, "I'm sorry" I recognize that they are politely spoken.  I like politeness.  It shows respect for self and others. When I have a polite person on the phone, I get them to talk and talk will reveal what they know about the applicant.

I hear "I'm sorry" and I listen to the tone and I say things like, "I understand" and "isn't that the way things are today!" and I empathize and make small talk.  Once the person on the other line is talking, I am confident I am going to get information.

"We don't give references."

This one is not as likely to yield information.  I see it as a "stop sign" but not as a red light.  I usually make a comment about understanding and sometimes the person will just hang up the phone.  Rudeness is not helpful.

I had one such call, however, that I was able to get information from, which ended up being critical.  It was a medical office which, by nature, is used to being "confidential" in conversation, due to laws and statutes, therefore, I commented upon the weather, which made her laugh.

Once she laughed, we conversed.

Eventually she said that the applicant was fired because it was a poor fit, and not because of poor work.  It was the type of office in which silence was cherished, and she was a talker, and because she was on probation, she was terminated as a poor fit.

In the job I was calling about, her social skills would be an excellent fit (and they were) and I offered her the position.

I have also had experiences where the company refused to give reference, but was willing to talk, and revealed some dark and alarming information about the applicant and likely spared me some difficulties.

Statement Analysis on the fly means jotting down words that are repeated, and listening carefully for pronoun drops as it is just a few minutes on the phone that might help decision makers stay on a good course.   I listen for commitment.  In pronouns there are three things to listen for on a short phone call:

1.  Consistency
2.  Change
3.  Drop offs

1.  Consistency

If the person uses "we", they are speaking for the company.  This is appropriate.  If you are speaking to someone in HR who is in charge of hiring and firing, the word "we" is still expected but if they use the pronoun "I", it is to be considered very strong.

2.  Change

When one goes from "we" to "I", I always write down this sentence.  Whatever it was that triggered the change from "we" to the much stronger, "I", is going to matter in this conversation.  When I hear the change, I write down the sentence.

The same is in reverse:  if the strong "I" suddenly turns into "we", there is a weakening, a sharing, a plurality, a...a something that has caused a change in the language.  Usually an emotion will be joined to this sentence.

I ask questions based upon any change.

3.  Drop offs

The missing pronoun means the person has not removed himself or herself from the equation, or in the case of using "we" representing a company, a dropped "we" means that the subject is removing the company from the sentence.  This is a very important sentence and should make you think.

You may now have decided, based upon the reference calls

But what about those who attempt to sue your company for not hiring them?

What can a company do to protect itself?

Stay tuned...


Katprint said...

As a landlord, sometimes I have been called by the prospective landlords of my former tenants who listed me as their prior landlord.

One particularly troublesome family had been unable to pay their rent after the husband was arrested for burglary so the wife and kids moved out (I think she moved in with her mom) and a brother-in-law and family moved in. They had apparently promised my former tenants that they would pay the rent but they didn't. After I served a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit, they left but handed the house keys over to some friends of theirs who moved in.

The only thing that saved me from a prolonged legal hassle trying to evict the unknown occupants who were evading service of process was that they had given SMUD (the local electric utility company) bogus account information then didn't pay their electric bill and their power was turned off. My rental house was all-electric with an electric water heater, electric furnace, electric oven, etc. They tried to get their power turned back on using other bogus account info -- at one point trying to use other friends/relatives' identities -- but SMUD refused. My rental house was all-electric with an electric water heater, electric furnace, electric oven, etc. They toughed it out for a month or two but they finally left in January.

After they left, I discovered that they had cut down all the trees and bushes in the backyard to burn in the fireplace trying to stay warm. I had to haul away about 20 cubic yards of broken furniture and trash they left behind. The carpets were destroyed; among other things, it looked like someone had overhauled their motorcycle engine in the livingroom. It was a disaster!

So, three years went by then I got a call from a prospective landlord inquiring about the former tenants. I guess the husband must have gotten out of prison. I don't remember the story they had given the prospective landlord for why they had a gap in their tenancy although I do remember that they did not disclose the burglary conviction/imprisonment. I was AMAZED that they had given my contact information to their prospective landlord. Maybe they didn't know what their brother-in-law and subsequent squatters had done? I was reluctant to tell the whole story but I felt no reservations about admitting that no, I would not rent to this family again.

Katprint said...

To clarify my prior post, I didn't know who the strangers living in my house were at the time nor the problems they were having with SMUD. After they left, when I asked SMUD to turn the power back on under my account with them as the property owner, SMUD told me that they would not turn the power back on until I proved that the house was vacant, and they explained what had happened to cause them to impose this requirement.

trustmeigetit said...

I was in recruiting for about 10 years.

One thing that I was able to sometimes get was just how they responded upon hearing the name. Only really works if you get the actual manager on the phone or someone in HR that knew the person.

But for example, I would have someone respond “oh, how are they?” or “oh, yah, I know who that is”

The tone may not be as noticeable in the words, but the first one they sounded excited to hear the name, the 2nd one they sounded more like someone just said a name of someone you really don’t like.

But it is harder now days. I work for a very large company. Over 100k employees and I work in the dept that has access to our little database of employment data and we are not even allowed to accept calls. The policy is very strict. We do not say a word. They are directed to a 1-800 number where they can verify employment dates and salary (only if the employee provides them with a password for that) only. It’s automated so they do not even speak to anyone.

So I think that as time goes on, more companies will do that.

It is also scary because someone that answers could have a personal grudge.

I worked for a small family business and if you left them for another company, they held a grudge and always gave you a negative reference. Sometimes went further .

They did this to me as well. I had been their top recruiter. I even landed several accounts that they had tried to get for years because I had an ability to find the right fit with just one applicant.

I had loyal clients that would work only with me. I had perfect attendance and there were never any issues in my performance or behavior. In fact, my boss (owners daughter) cried when I told her I was leaving saying she was going to miss my energy and spirit. She also made me this mini scrapbook including photos of my coworkers and everyone signed it with the sweetest things.

Well, I knew they had made things hard for others that left so when I left, I just was vague about where I was going to work. And since I had plenty of “references” from prior bosses that I had used to get the job, I figured I was ok.

Well, a couple months into my new job, the owner of my old company called my new employer and said I was a liar and could not be trusted.

Not only was I shocked that they were still worried about me enough to find out where I was…

But, I was sitting in the owner’s office when they called. It was a small 10 person company.

My heart started to race as he repeated her name to me. I was not sure what was going on.

Well, my fears quickly left.

I was so impressed by my new boss.

He basically told them that as long as I was employed with them, if I was a “liar” they should have let me go. He also told them he had seen the scrapbook they made me and he found it hard to believe they would make that for a “liar” and then asked them what exactly I had lied about. She was silent. Since well, it was not true..

He then told them that in the few short weeks I had been there I had already proven to be one of his next top performers. He then told her it may be time for her to act more professional and focus on her company and not on be worried about a former employee just trying to advance her career.

He then hung up on her.

I was shocked they spent time looking for me all that time later and took the time to call.

But at least the new boss was smart enough to see past that. I ended up being with him for several years until he retired.

John Mc Gowan said...


Moorer relatives struggling to cope with harassment during Heather Elvis case.

My stinky penis. said...

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Unknown said...

We see this in the "win at all costs" of defense attorneys today; truth (and justice) be damned, a "w" is all that matters.

This statement is as ignorant as it is blind. Why leave out the filthy prosecutors who have a convicted person with proof he is innocent, yet the DA refuses to acknowledge the proof, won't hear any declaration, and when finally it is overturned, they wil flat out LIE that they have the right person, what a terrible injustice it is.

Not to mention the way they first come back and say «well, we know you're guilty, but it's been too long to properly investigate again, so if you confess, we'll let you out right now." now they prove they care more about a win and conviction stat than the LIFE of an innocent father,3(or the west Memphis 3 teens) the entire life of 3 children.

What about those douche bag cops who beat a confession out of 15 year old. When he demanded his parents and a lawyer they went to his parents house. They sure did. But instead of telling them he's been in interrogation with no food fire 12 hours, on a murder charge, they just asked if he lived there and if they believed he would be involved in guns. Then... THEY LEFT so they could get back to beating a confession out of him.

They had no weapon, no evidence, no purse, no money, no finger prints.
Do they interview witnesses?

Do they search his home?

Do they fingerprint the purse?
Nope. (it ended up having the real killer fingerprint the entire time it sat in evidence

Did they interview his parents?

Did they follow his alibi?

And when they could not get a confession, they took him, a 15 year old boy, to the woods, way back away from lights, and beat him every 10 seconds until he signed.

Watch the documentary Murder on a Sunday Morning.

What about David Camm? Where he was hated by the lead investigator whom stated before even seeing the crime scene "this looks like a David camm scene". David Camm was a cop too.

So instead of testing the DNA, or following the evidence, they hired the douche blood "expert" Tom Bevel. This douche single handedly responsible for sending many MANY innocent people to prison after he finds out if he was hired by prosecution, or defense, he then LOOKS AT PHOTOS and issues EXACTLY the"proof" needed

Darlie, Camm, MacDonald to name just 3. There are tons.

It's despicable.

What about the cops covering for each other? Willing to steal the rest of an innocent life rather than admit leaving early "Admit i was wrong? No way. I'll just lie some more "

So "win at all costs" is not just scumbag defense attorneys.

Every single person deserves the best defense possible. That might require some deception. So what? That doesn't make them murderers. It makes them selfish, and liars.

Take Casey Anthony. She most likely killed caylee with negligence....negligence of A whore journey

She then hides her body, and lies through her lying stupid teeth.

Does that make her a murderer?


But it does make her a lying, corpse messing with, lying sack of shit.

But not a murderer. So she got the best defense, and the prosecution could not give a type of death, so the douche bag DA had no business trying a circumstantial evidence case...

So, don't pin the douche baggary on only defense attorneys. They are not the ones with the burden of truth, yet nobody is talking about it...