The answer to the first question is – “They must interview well”.
The answer to the second is – It costs a lot to replace a staff member so Ostrich Syndrome kicks in and the person responsible for showing the useless staff member the door hopes beyond hope that a staggering metamorphosis will take place overnight and all will be well. Kind of like, “If I don’t admit there’s a problem then I don’t have to deal with it”.
But it’s the interview itself that I find the most astonishing. Some people just interview really well and they sell themselves, some people interview like a grade schooler but would be a great member of staff, so why do companies continue to interview potential employees, especially when they are not really qualified to do so. Most interviewers will employ someone they like or who reminds them of themselves but this really is a total waste of time.
In my past life in Great Britain I worked for the airlines and have undergone (and I mean undergone) the airline selection process many times and have also been on the other side of the door, assisting with the selection process and I have to say they have it right.
I will tell you now about my British Airways Flight Attendant interview; a five minute chat with an interviewer after you have passed a full day of selection antics that are like the Vegas Round of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, where people are asked to leave as soon as they do something that does not fit the British Airways brand. Brutal? Yes. Effective? Hell Yes.
The day starts with about 40 of you in a holding area, you check in and the charming British Airways Recruitment Receptionist advises you to help yourself to the free vending machine drinks and the pastries on the buffet. Yummy. We all sit around and chat and meet people and bump into people we have worked with before. The group naturally divides into cliques of people boasting who they have flown and worked for in the past. I hate this kind of self bolstering so I wander off to the nervous geeky girl in the corner, that nobody seems to want to talk to, and try to make her feel a bit more comfortable with the process.
We are then called into the activity rooms by last name in groups of 4. I’m late to my room as I stop to pick up all the coffee cups in the holding room and pop them in the trash so the receptionist does not have to get up.
Once in the room we are seated around a table and given a box of bits and bobs and told to decide as a group which items to take on a long train trip. The only stipulations are that we must all agree and we must not leave our chairs or stand up. I do my best not to give my opinion too many times and be too bossy, I then nearly kill the young man in the chair next to me as he goes to stand up and I yank and push him back into his chair so hard that he gasps. I am terrified that if one person stands up we will all fail but I feel bad for him too, why lose an opportunity because you stood up.
To cut a long story short out of the 40 of us, about 6 got through and being British Airways they did not hesitate to tell us why:
1. The geeky girl in the group was a plant and most people ignored her and I went out of my way to calm her nerves – Good for passengers that don’t like flying.
2. I picked up the coffee cups – Not one person who left their coffee cup on the table got through – After all a flight attendant needs to know how to pick up cups.
3. I did not stand up during the exercise and followed all other orders – Great if you’re going to crash.
4. I pushed my co-applicant back into his seat – I cared about the team – Great on an aluminum tube at 35 thousand feet.
Do I suggest you do these things for your tutor applicants? No, over kill I would say. But British Airways know what they want from their staff, they know that once you are up there whizzing through the clouds you are on your own and it is imperative they have the right skills and personalities, not only representing their brand but serving and possibly saving the lives of their customers. Knowing that in an interview an applicant can say whatever they like, they devised a process that would weed out the people that interview well and pinpoint the people that don’t interview too well, but have everything else they need.
At the very least you should be testing your recruits on the knowledge they claim to have and evaluate them in a tutoring environment before you interview them, not afterwards.
And why am I telling you all this? I read this very good article, What’s wrong with Job Interviews, which pretty much says the same thing, and whilst it is an article that I recommend you read, I would like to tell the author that airlines have been doing this for years!
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