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How to Hire for Problem-Solving

This post is part four in a continuing series on how to hire extraordinary people using the performance-based hiring and interviewing process I advocate. Following is the version of the program and a quick summary of the process. 

Here's a quick summary of performance-based Interviewing: 

  1. Prepare a performance-based job description. Eliminate the use of skills-laden job descriptions by defining the work as a series of time-phased performance objectives.
  2. Conduct a detailed work history. Spend at least 30 minutes reviewing the candidate’s work history looking for progression, impact and recognition. Find out why the person changed jobs and if the purpose for changing was achieved.
  3. Ask the most significant job accomplishment question. For each performance objective ask the candidate to describe a related accomplishment to determine if the candidate is both competent and motivated to do the actual work required.
  4. Ask the most significant team accomplishment question. This is the most important of all of the interview questions since it confirms all of the individual accomplishments.
  5. Determine culture fit. A great hire is someone who is competent to do the actual work and motivated to do the actual work and fits the culture.
  6. Ask the problem-solving question...

Have Candid Conversations Before Bad Things Happen

A 2015 survey of federal employees found that 39 percent fear reprisals if they report violations of rules or laws. This has serious implications for their willingness to identify and report serious programmatic risks in their day-to-day jobs, and the tendency is to avoid or ignore risks.

New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget attempts to address this challenge and create an environment where candid conversations can take place. The goal of the guidance is to help managers and employees understand the spectrum of risks, develop strategies and tools to mitigate them and communicate risks to the appropriate people.

New Guidance for an Old Issue

Managing risk is not new. But the new guidance is a fresh approach. Traditional guidance on risk—OMB’s Circular A-123—focused on internal controls, largely in the financial arena. The new guidance, which significantly revises A-123, is the culmination of two years of extensive development and consultation across the government by OMB’s David Mader, the Controller for the federal government.

Interestingly, the development of this approach—called enterprise risk management, or ERM—has largely been a bottom-up movement by several pioneering agencies. Staff from the Education, Commerce and Treasury departments gathered...

How to Hire for Team Skills

So far in this “How to Hire for . . .” series, we’ve covered how to hire for motivation and how to hire for a cultural fit. The question below on assessing team skills is the most important interview question of all time. You'll agree once you try it.

First, some background is in order as you validate these techniques for yourself. Harvard Professor Todd Rose, the author of the new bestseller, The End of Average (HarperOne, 2016), contacted me last year heaping praise on the performance-based hiring process underlying this interviewing methodology. He contended it mapped directly to the new science of maximizing individual performance. (Todd is also now the senior education director for the Muppets so when your kids start asking you these questions you’ll know where they came from.) I told him I developed the methodology over 20 years of trial-and-error interviewing thousands of candidates and tracking their performance over a few years.

The big, seemingly obvious finding was that job descriptions listing skills, experience, competencies and behavioral traits were not great predictors of future success. While measuring these things could reduce interviewing errors due to bias, there were too many other factors that could cause a...

Can't Quit Saying ‘Um’ and ‘Ah’? Just Learn How to Use Them Better

Filler words—like, you know, I mean, uh, um—are an inescapable part of our everyday lives. President Barack Obama, a typically eloquent speaker, uses them; they’re littered throughout Kim Kardashian’s speech; and according to experts, you probably use them every five seconds when you’re speaking spontaneously.

This is not a new phenomenon (the earliest use has been dated back to 1469), and it’s not exclusive to the English language. Filler wordsappear in every language and every culture,” says Steven D. Cohen, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Baltimore. The English um, for example, has a Korean equivalent, eum and a French counterpart, euh. According to Cohen, people around the globe are constantly using filler words, making it a “pervasive habit.”

Despite this, filler words typically have a bad rep. Overusing the word like, for example, stereotypically gives off an airhead vibe, while saying uh and um can make you seem hesitant, insecure or unconfident. A conversation packed with these unnecessary interjections can be distracting and imply scattered thought. Many people feel they clutter speech, can undermine your credibility, and are considered unbecoming in professional settings. Cohen, who believes there is no...

Procrastinate Better

Why is it that the more work I have to do, the more the Internet beckons me into its endless maw of distraction? Oh Lord, I will say, appealing both to myself and to whatever blog-God might be listening, I have an hour to finish this article.

But first, isn’t this Tasty video fascinating? I’ve never thought about making buffalo-fried cheese nuggets before, but now that I’ve watched a pair of disembodied hands prepare them so expertly, I should definitely head over to Amazon and Prime me some buffalo sauce.

This is how I found myself, exhausted after leaving work at 8 p.m. one day recently, flopping onto my bed, still in my pencil skirt, and clicking open a horrific, traffic-mongering slideshow linked from the bottom of an article I was reading. It was about Stars Without Makeup or What Child Stars Look Like Now or some other rancid meat for my hungry lizard brain.

Reader, I clicked through every slide. Then I dropped my phone, shocked at what I had become. This is not what a feminist looks like. This is not what a go-getter, or frankly, a decent human looks like. There’s got...

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