Magazine article Public Management

What's the Most Important Interview Question You Ask When Hiring Staff (and Why)?

Magazine article Public Management

What's the Most Important Interview Question You Ask When Hiring Staff (and Why)?

Article excerpt

ELIZABETH (LYNNE) LADNER, ICMA-CM

City Administrator Hiawatha, Kansas

cityadministrator@cityofhiawatha.org

My most important question: Why do you want to work for the city of Hiawatha? Working in the public sector takes a passion for working not only with people but for people. I am looking for employees who seek to do more than earn a paycheck because they also want to help people.

Every position reflects on the character and values of the governing body. Each employee represents the culture of the community and may be the first or only person whom a visitor or new resident sees when they are evaluating whether they want to stay or return.

So for me, understanding why candidates want to work for the city is the most important question because it reveals if they have the heart of a public servant.

JACQUES DUBE

City Manager Moncton, NB

Canada

jacques.dube@moncton.ca

I like to investigate and then ask a question because the candidate's response allows me to gather information about the person based on a real-life example of an initiative he or she found important to an organization: "Tell us about the most significant change initiative you implemented and for which you were responsible. Tell us what role you played in it, what made it challenging. What were the results?"

The candidate's response also provides insight into what the candidate considers an achievement. All of us encounter barriers when we are implementing change and this question can reveal a candidate's drive to succeed as well as the problem-solving approach.

You can then assess whether the candidate's style will fit into your organization. You can also sense a candidate's energy level, drive, and influencing skills, which are all important competencies for leadership roles in local government today. …

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