BY GARY BURNISON
assume that being a
means asking tough
questions and putting
job candidates on the
spot. This may be what
they experienced in
their own careers, and now they think it’s
time to turn the tables. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
To become better interviewers, managers need to host, which is all about making candidates feel comfortable while
encouraging authenticity and candor.
Here are four tips for becoming a great
Help. Great interviewers remember
that it’s natural for candidates to feel nervous during an interview. They’re skilled
at putting others at ease: welcoming them
in the lobby or waiting area, offering coffee or water, and making small talk to
establish a connection. Great interviewers
FEW THINGS ARE more difficult than delivering bad news. Let’s say you’ve got to tell an
employee that he or she is being laid off. Or
announce to team members that, because of
slow sales, your company won’t be able to pay
bonuses this year. Or tell people that, because
business is so good, they’ll all have to work on an
upcoming holiday weekend.
Because you’re a caring person, you’d like to
make the bad news easier to take. So you sidle
into the subject, talking about other topics first.
You choose indirect language. And you try to do
whatever you can to soften the blow.
That’s why you may be surprised to learn that
the worst way to deliver bad news is to sugarcoat
it. According to new research, people on the
receiving end of bad news would much rather you
rip off the bandage than beat around the bush.
In a study conducted by Brigham Young
University linguistics professor Alan Manning
and University of South Alabama English pro-
fessor Nicole Amare, participants received a
range of bad-news scenarios. For each scenario,
they were given a choice of two approaches, then
asked to select their preferred method. In nearly
every case, what participants wanted most was
candor, preferring that the bearer of bad news
give it to them straight.
That means that the next time you need to
deliver bad news to one employee or the whole
team, you should communicate simply, clearly
and directly. Here’s how:
• Before you begin, craft your key message—
the 15 to 20 words that sum up what you need to
convey. When it’s time to share the news, say
this message first.
• Avoid jargon. This is not the time to disguise the facts in a thicket of $50 words. Use simple, straightforward language.
• Think through what questions employees
will probably ask—and make sure you’ve figured
out the answers.
•Show that you care. Of course you’re
stressed about the fact that you have to share bad
news, but you can still express empathy.
You can’t change bad news into good, but
you can deliver your message in the best way
The best way
to deliver bad news
Alison Davis is CEO of Davis
& Company, the author of
several books on communication and a regular columnist
FOR YOUR BUSINESS
To be a better
become a host
ask probing questions, but conduct a conversation, not an interrogation.
Open. Great interviewers open their
eyes and minds. They avoid the tempta-
tion to make snap judgments (research
shows first impressions take only sec-
onds) and guard against unconscious
“hire like me” biases. Great interviewers
also open their ears; they never do all the
talking, and they listen so they can ask
meaningful follow- up questions.
Set the stage. Great interviewers aren’t
like most managers, who spend little time
reading the candidate’s résumé in advance
(if at all). They set the stage by studying the
candidate’s background and accomplishments in advance, so that during the interview they can delve more deeply into how
the person can contribute to the team.
Tell the truth. Just as candidates need
to tell the truth about their background,
interviewers need to be honest when presenting the expectations and requirements of the job, such as the hours, the
amount of travel involved, whether tele-commuting is an option and so forth.
When expectations are fully understood
by both parties, there’s a far better chance
of making a good hire.
One final point: Job candidate websites and social media put interview experiences in the spotlight. ( When candidates
are turned off, the world knows.) By
becoming hosts, managers are not only
better interviewers, they also act like
ambassadors, shining a positive light on
the company and its culture. C
Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry, a
global management consulting firm, and the
author of Lose the Resume, Land the Job
(Wiley, 2018; not available at Costco).