Interpretation and the Follow-up Questions

Have you ever seen the lists that circulate social media asking how many items can you check off the list? The question asked is whether you have done or have never done each item on the list. Some of the things on the list, such as “fire a gun,” could be by choice for sport or could’ve been, for some, in self-defense. Either way, your answer was an element of fact that you could do it and of choice that you did.

Never have I ever list

The same type of choices holds true in the construction workplace. A workplace list might look similar to this:

Completed a Take-Off Read Plans Incorrectly
Signed a Paycheck Claimed Worker’s Compensation
Taken a Company Item for Personal Use Called in Sick to Work
Visited an Active Construction Jobsite Driven a Company-Owned Truck/Car
Attended Trade School Received a College Degree
Hammered a Nail Done a Construction Demo
Read a Self-Improvement Book Been to a Top-Off Party
Given a Gift to Your Boss Received a Bonus
Received a Gift from a Co-Worker Taken a Drug Test
Negotiated a Contract Fired Someone
Hired Someone Received an OSHA Certification
Got LEED Certified Used AutoCAD
Rode a Buck Hoist Drank an Alcoholic Beverage at Work
Flew in a Plane for Business Gone to Work Sick

Although not recommended in this form, you could choose to use one of these quizzes to learn about a candidate during an interview. There is nothing on the above list you cannot ask, even if it seems too personal or inappropriate. What really matters is how both the respondent and the person the results are shared with respond and react. A potential employer might look at someone not ever calling into work sick as dedication, where another might look at it as a huge risk and lack of concern for others, yet what if the person answered that way and they truly were fortunate not to have taken ill, as of yet, on a workday.

So often, when we do follow up on the interview process, we hear of a question that was asked and an answer given, yet neither side took time to clarify and get the facts behind the answer. When we clarify, we find out that the issue is really the inability of two people to effectively communicate through the process for the facts. This is the ability of either or both sides to ensure not only are they heard but also clearly understood. An example might be an employer speaking about a situation where an employee was in the office on a typical holiday, such as Christmas or the 4th of July, which is an important family time for them each year. Instead of asking the employer if the company is open on the holidays, they assume it is a possibility they will not have that time off.

An employer might ask the potential new employee about how often they travel now for business, and they answer “not at all.” The job requires 25% travel, and they rule the candidate out with concern that they might not like or want to travel, yet if they had clarified, they would have found out the candidate traveled more than 50% prior to that and misses traveling. This new opportunity is the balance they have been seeking yet lack of clarification got them ruled out.

These situations with assumptions without clarification happen with almost every interview. Some things you might do to help get to the facts could include:

  1. Go back and clarify until you have a full understanding of the circumstances, situation, and action the person you are conversing with shared with you.
  2. Don’t assume that because someone has not done something they won’t or can’t. Listen for aptitude and attitude and what similar experience they may have for skills.
  3. Consider hiring a third party to help you with mediating and evaluating the interview process, as we do for our clients of FLCC. Often in an interview, both sides walk away missing or misinterpreting important information about one another, which can be clarified through a communication process.

I can check 23 of the 28 off the list. Two of them are decisions on hiring and firing. Both are difficult decisions, yet the best hires have always been those who, even if they surprised me with what was shared, calmed my reservations with the clarity for interpretation when I asked to understand.

To the Proper Interpretation,

Suzanne Breistol


Leave a reply

Your email addres will not be published.
Required fields are marked with

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.