How to Interview for Resiliency


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In last week’s episode we talked about how to be a resilient leader.  But that’s not enough in today’s market. Working environments are increasingly complex, and things can – and do – come at you from left field.  So, in addition to becoming a resilient leader, you need to surround yourself with a team that’s resilient as well.  People who are flexible and can adapt quickly to changing circumstances.  And do so with grace and professionalism.

But, how do you interview for resiliency?  Is that even possible?

Yes, it absolutely is possible.  You see, resiliency is the ability to deal with setbacks and cope with pressure – without letting it overwhelm you or derail you from your path.

So one really good way to understand how someone manages resilience is to simply ask them.  For instance, how do you deal with setbacks?  What is your process, walk me through a time you had a big setback and what you did to get past it.

This question will help you understand their problem solving skills and process.  And as a follow up, you can ask them how they think they grew from the situation.  You want people who can use negative experiences to further their development.  Or, at the very least, hone their coping skills.

Another great question is to ask – describe a time someone put pressure on you.  What did it involve, and what technique did you use to deal with it.  And by the way – as a pro tip – be on the lookout with this question to see if the candidate gets defensive or begins to bad mouth colleagues or former bosses.  That’s a bit of a red flag that they aren’t properly evaluating their role in the situation and how they could have made it better.

Tell me about a time you had a task that you had little or limited knowledge about – what did you do.

…Working environments are increasingly complex, and things can – and do – come at you from left field

This is kind of a sneaky two-fer.  On the one hand you might get insight into where they have knowledge gaps.  And on the other hand you’ll find out how resourceful they are.  Do they want everything just handed over in a pretty package, or are they adept at researching and digging to find the answer.  And above all, can they apply knowledge to different circumstance.

Because, it’s not enough to learn, you have to be able to apply that information in various situations.

You can explore their interpersonal skills too – tell me about a difficult manager or colleague.  What was difficult about working with them.  What did you do to manage their relationship, and was it successful.

The answer to this question will help you understand the candidate’s ability to manage difficult work relationships.  And will let you know if they understand the impact of their own behavior on others.  It’s also a good peek at their tolerance levels.

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And finally – it’s important to see if they understand how they might impact others.  A question such as tell me about a time you took steps to make sure your colleagues or direct reports didn’t feel too much pressure – describe the situation.

This question digs into their thought process and perspective of self.  Do they even think about the fact that they might be putting undue pressure on someone else.  Or do they consider ways they can alleviate pressure from someone else?

It’s a really good quality to have – looking out for your team members.  And it ups everyone’s resilience level – because when you know someone has your back, things can fell a lot less stressful and challenging.  And that makes room for resilience to bloom.

And believe me, I’m talking from personal experience here.  Recently my team and I have had all sorts of – shall we say “opportunities” to up level our resilience muscles.  And I must say – they have absolutely risen to the occasion – for which I am eternally grateful.

But as an entrepreneur you have to know that your business will go through seasons, and some seasons will be all about growing and displaying resilience.  And that’s a good thing – because it means you’re building the right foundation for continued growth and expansion.

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