I got a call from a lawyer recently. One of his clients wants someone to teach their managers how to interview, because apparently, they’re having increasing difficulty hiring the right people using their current interviewing methods.

This request comes on the heels of a slew of articles on the “Death of the job interview” or some similar tag line. But it’s not so far fetched to say that the traditional structured job interview is in big trouble when it comes to identifying good people. The main reason for this is that candidates have learned all the tricks in the book for presenting a positive persona that wil push the employer’s “hire” buttons. Just Google, “How to have a great job interview” and you will find literally thousands of pages on how to hit the right chords….even if you’re a bullshit artist. No let me correct that: Especially if you are a bullshit artist.

The other problem with traditional interviews is that they are structured to try to identify areas of competency and fit that are relevant to the job being offered. But the structure itself gets in the way of finding out the whole story, i.e.,  the structure pre-defines the types of answers you’re going to get. And what if what you really need to know isn’t even on your radar? You can’t ask questions about things you don’t know may be important.

In 1994 we made the original discoveries that led to the development of Psychmentation. It turns out that the interview methodology we developed has vast implications for the world of job interviews as well as market research. Here are the basics:

  1. People almost never tell you the whole truth
  2. What they hold back is always more important than what they tell you
  3. The amount and quality of what they reveal is inversely proportional to the vested interest they have to protect the relationship
  4. Getting to the truth can only come about through the creation of a context of safety and “absolute deniability”
  5. Direct questions about what you want to know are useless. The truth must be approached peripherally through open questions that have no preconceptions about the answer.
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