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Management Candidate Behaviors that Derail Job Interviews

The job interview professional has been trained to identify the management candidate with personality disorders. Unfortunately, many behaviors may make a qualified management candidate appear like they have a personality disorder. A personality will never change. A behavior can change.

If you understand a little about how human resources trains job interviews to prevent bad hires then you can avoid making mistakes that cause you to lose a good job placement.

The main thing to take from this article is ‘do not’ try to be someone you are not. Do not try to mask problems. Instead, focus on how you are working to improve your behavior, or avert letting your personality destroy a team, and cost a company money. Self-awareness and willingness to be coached can give you a leg in, even if you have made mistakes in the job interview.


Management  Candidate – Derailing Behaviors

Many good people make bad managers. In my experience the #1 problem is not incompetency, but the attitude that ‘my way is the right way.’ People learn just enough to compensate instead of lead. Because they see results, and because they are emotionally satisfied, they fail to see their short fallings.

There are not temperament problems like the others. Instead they are behavioral. The good news is that with help, education, and self-awareness behaviors can be changed.

The key job interview derailment characteristics fall into three groups:

Moving Away Behaviors – These create distance from others through hyper-emotional, diminished communication, toxic attitudes, and skepticism. They erode trust in people and wear down confidence, inner joy, and the desire to be at work.

 Moving Against Behaviors – These are manipulative. These people exaggerate. They tell big stores and get very emotional when they tell them. They diminish the importance of other people. They use people.

 Moving Toward Behaviors –  These include being ingratiating, overly conforming, and reluctant to take chances or stand up for one’s team.  This person may also be an enabler, allowing a toxic/dominant person to bully other members of the team.

To identify a dysfunctional management candidate in a job interview you need to be prepared and if your instincts warn you that something is wrong there are a few things you can try. First, be prepared. Have a set of questions that appear benign, but are designed to incite an argument.

  1. Challenge their story for the truth. If a story is over exaggerated you may want to ask for facts that create boundaries around the story. How long did the story take? What did it look like? Ask for ambiguous facts, especially if they interrupt the story. Someone who is telling the truth will not concentrate on small details. Someone who is lying is more likely to describe secondary environmental details about things that happened in the past.
  2. Ask for specific facts, especially about people. If someone is not comfortable about people they will give complete answers but they will dehumanize the person. When the management candidate sitting in front of you is talking about people, teams, bosses or even friends and family, what do you see? Do they paint a mental picture of the person?

If they give too much detail then they may be social leaders, and they will spend too much time with the team, and not enough with the tasks.

If they don’t offer a first name, sex, age, or any detail that can separate one person in their story from another then you may have someone who is socially withdrawn.

  1. Can they tell a story? A person who cannot tell events in a story like manner is very one dimensional. They will probably be one dimensional/dismissive with their team as well.
  2. Do not get caught up in an argument. If they are manipulative they may turn the tables. Or, you may see a pattern of arguing or discord in their stories. In the job interview you may only sense this in a micro facial movement.
  3. Do they plan? Do they talk about a manual they made? Their blueprint for training new employees? If so, then ask for success rates. Ask for information about employees that failed and how the manager dealt with the problem. Is there any room for growth in their plans, or are they black and white?

If they don’t plan then you may have someone who ‘wings it’, ‘off the cuff.’  This person doesn’t take responsibility to the same level as someone who plans, but that doesn’t mean they can perform consistently.


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