When Scott Valitchka began interviewing candidates for mill operator jobs at the James River Green Bay Mill 35 years ago, he noticed a common pattern. Job candidates often missed out on a desired job because they failed to prepare for or understand what to expect at an interview.
Why Candidates Struggled in Job Interviews
Valitchka, Managing Partner of 15 Dots LLC, realized that a combination of factors affected interviewing results. Oftentimes, candidates who struggled in a job interview:
- Lacked a mentor, friend, parent, or teacher who could help them prepare for a job interview
- Did not take time to reflect on the job opportunity and consider how it might fit with their prior work experience and career goals
- Looked at the mill job solely to earn more money and failed to consider the combination of interests, abilities, or accomplishments that would make them a good fit for the job
- Lacked a consistent way to provide interviewers with data about how they had behaved in past situations that might mirror their desired job
Green Bay Students Explore Manufacturing Careers
In mid-September 2022, Valitchka, who is a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance (NEWMA) Talent Task Force, learned that several Fox Cities businesses were sponsoring a NEWMA program to help Green Bay charter school seniors explore manufacturing careers.
Starting in October, Green Bay high school seniors visited the booths of 11 Fox Cities NEWMA member companies at the Manufacturing First Trade Show. During early November, the same students will have the opportunity to tour each business and view their operations. Finally, during mid-November, each student will participant in a job interview for internships available at the 11 NEWMA member companies. Those who successfully complete the manufacturing internship will then be eligible for one of seven $1,000 continuing education scholarships. The goal of the business tours, interviews, and internships is to inform the students about manufacturing careers and help them to prepare for what it takes to land manufacturing jobs that cover business support, operations, or maintenance.
3 Key Principles to Excel in an Interview
When Valitchka learned that the students would participate in a job interview as part of the manufacturing career program, he saw the opportunity for 15dots to create a free, online reference that the students and their teachers could use to help them to prepare for a successful interview.
Drawing from years of interview experience, Valitchka and the 15dots team identified three key principles that are essential for any interview. They built the quick reference around those items:
- Prepare – Learn about the work and job site and assess your interest, relevant skills, and knowledge
- Understand the interviewer’s role (to collect behavioral “CARE® packages)
- Respond with CARE® – Think Circumstance or Assignment, Response, & Effect when answering interview questions
Helpful Single-Page Interview Guide
The quick reference specifically addresses gaps the 15dots team has observed through years of interview interactions with job candidates. Those items include:
- Three things to focus on when preparing for an interview.
- The types of topics that most interviews will cover, along with examples of behavioral questions commonly asked to address a given topic.
As an example, most interviews focus on work and personal achievements. A related behavioral question might be: What achievements have you experienced so far in your life? What are some things you are most proud of?
- How to respond to behavioral questions using the CARE® technique (CARE means that the candidate responds to questions with the following framework in mind):
- C=Circumstance (Describe the situation that you were in)
- A=Assignment (Outline the task or duty you were responsible for)
- R=Response (Describe what action you took)
- E=Effect (Note the results in terms of safety, quality, “wins,” or cost, etc.)
The resulting quick reference, “Tips to Excel in an Interview” is now available on the Free Resources section of the 15dots website, and was distributed to the Green Bay charter school seniors participating in the NEWMA manufacturing internship program interviews.
A Good Interview is a Conversation with a Purpose
Some might argue that giving interview tips to candidates dilutes the power of an interview for the hiring organization. However, through 40-plus years of employee selection experience, 15dots founder Dr. Joe Nowlin has seen the opposite. When candidates can provide relevant behavioral examples to an interviewer or interview team that illustrate their motivation and agility to adapt to the world of work, they set themselves and the interview team up for a successful outcome.
Nowlin and the 15dots team report that the best interviews they have seen are “a conversation with a purpose.” This means that the interviewers know the data they need to collect, and the candidates are prepared with the combination of personal insights and examples of past work and experience that illustrate their fit for the job for which they are being considered. Contact the 15dots team to learn more about effective interviews and how to take the guesswork out of employee selection.