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For some jobs, such as sales/marketing/business development—individuals can stand on their track record.

But how do you identify track record/expertise where people work in teams? Think of the shirker in your old college project team. Has the candidate applying for the job hijacked his team’s success as his own? Worse, is he blamed for his team’s failure?

But some hiring managers rely on “years of experience” as a proxy for “expertise”.

Scenario or situation-based questions are the best means to identify expertise.

If you’re a HR manager seeking someone for a HR function, you know the questions to formulate. You have the job-specific skills to pull this off.

If the scenario question is specific to a line function invite that line-manager to construct the questions. He knows best the problems and the help he needs.

Here is a sample scenario question for a hydraulic systems technician in the automotive, industrial, aviation, or marine sector:

System pressure is low. The pressure gauge is not defective. Full reservoir; and the system plumbing is not leaking. What could be the problem?

This is a common trouble-shooting scenario for hydraulic technicians. He might have worked in a workshop for many years. But was he mopping the floor and topping up the oil? Or was he in the thick of things? A scenario question will nail his level of expertise and experience.

Caveat: Do not allow line-managers to waste the interview session by having them cover questions which the HR person can handle. Questions such as what is your strength; what is your weakness; and similar generic themes.

In fact, when the HR or hiring manager is interviewing the candidate, the line-manager should keep silent; study the candidate’s body language; and pick up hints regarding his character.

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019