Interviewing for tough-mindedness and persistence

by on July 21, 2015 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Most of us have met Fair Weather Frank. He’s the employee who is all go-go until the project hits a setback, and then… floop. He melts like a chocolate candy in the sun, collapsing into discouragement.

Needless to say, Frank isn’t the best guy to have around for the long haul, because most long hauls are uphill at least part of the time. One good way to keep Frank out of your workplace is not to hire him.

So how can you get inside job candidates’ heads to find out how resilient they are – how well they bounce back from disappointment or failure?

The resilient personality
The key to the resilient personality is simple, but profound: Pauline Persistent sees herself as a competent individual who controls her responses to what happens to her. She mines failure for information to help her succeed at her next attempt. She uses failure as a launching platform. She does not respond by getting down on herself and crawling into a shell.


Here are a series of questions an interviewer can use to sniff out resiliency:

  • Tell me about a time when you felt you were defeated at work. What did you do?
  • Describe a time when you didn’t think things could get any worse, and then they did. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you decided to give up on a goal.
  • Talk about the last time you were criticized at work. How did that go?
  • Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed at your last job. How often did that occur? What did you do about it?
  • Tell me about a time when you were distracted or preoccupied about something. (Then ask) What did you do?

Source: “The EQ Interview,” by Adele B. Lynn, AMACOM.

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