Friday, 17 March 2017

Only one interview question needed... really?

I read a LinkedIn post which referred to an Inc article recently. The base article by Betsy Mikel proposed that only one question only will demonstrate true character of a potential new employee. The 'magic' question was based on Adam Grant's book, "Give and Take", which talks about different types of personalities (2013).

Givers are the people whom we want in our organisations. They work hard, and help others. They build the business, grow teams, and quietly make money on behalf of the organisation. Takers are those who look good, but are effectively narcissists. They are not builders of anything but themselves, and over time erode teams, and thus, our businesses (Grant, 2013).
Betsy Mikel said: "Organizational psychologist Adam Grant says that the more often people help each other, the better the organization does. To create a culture of helping, you need to hire the givers, not the takers. However, just because someone is agreeable doesn’t mean they’re a giver — there are plenty of agreeable takers and disagreeable givers in this world. To find out whether someone is a giver or taker, irrespective of how agreeable they are, ask:
Can you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?" (4 January 2017)

went on to say that "The takers will give you the names of four people who have more influence than they do. They care more about influence than they do about helping. The givers will give you the names of four people you’ve likely never heard of, who are equal to them or below them in power. That’s because givers aren’t in the business of helping to help themselves succeed." (4 January 2017)

Ha, ha, I thought. Only until the takers too know 'the secret' of how to answer that kind of question, then they too will give us the names of people we haven't heard of, because they now how to play the game. That only works if the takers haven't heard the 'new' rules of interview engagement.

Adam Grant talks about takers being "hard to spot", so they will continue to be hard to spot. They learn fast what is in their own best interest. I also think that Betsy's point was extrapolated too far from what Adam was talking about in his book.

But what really interested me was that out of the four comments that had so far been posted on the LinkedIn Higher Education and Learning group (17 January 2017), two also disagreed that 'one' question could crack open a person's personality.
One member, Patricia Mabrouk, said: "a taker will give you names period. A giver might feel uncomfortable "claiming" that they were responsible for another's achievements" (LinkedIn Higher Teaching & Learning, 17 January 2017). This is an interesting point that perhaps givers may not want to give names. They may be more willing to talk about discreet scenarios which involved other people, and not focus on personal glory.
Another member, Dr. Alexander Morton, commented with: "the 'one question' is utter nonsense. This article predicates itself also on the corporation being the one to take from the giver. In essence this makes the organization a blackhole. The organization needs us, we don't need them. Very few organizations return the effort from givers and instead will overwork, underpay and use them without any tangible reward. This underlying principle has caused many people to take rather than give. It's protectionism for the worker to take rather than give[r]. Once organizations start fostering an environment of merit, employee value and tangible reward, there will be less need to 'take' and more desire to give" (LinkedIn Higher Teaching & Learning, 17 January 2017).

I felt that Dr Morton's point was interesting. Perhaps negative organisations have trained us to be takers over givers. When we become burned out or disenchanted, that we can be turned from our own positivity and giving into those who have switched off.

That is when we need to see a careers professional, to recognise 'where to from here'; to assist us to restore our personal sense of giving.

The hard part for most of us will be in detecting that we have become negative in the first place.



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