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Powerful Interview Tricks to Predict Future Performance

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Research shows that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. This powerful statement is a great tool,  and one that can be used to your benefit in your personal as well as professional life.

I will paraphrase it again:

The best and most reliable way to predict how someone will act and react in a future situation, is by finding out how they have reacted to similar situations in the past.

Brilliant, right?

So to find out how a potential new stewardess will perform in her role- how she'll take being delegated to, deal with stress, take direction, handle conflicts or difficult guests- is to ask her about it, right?

Seems obvious... But wait, there's a trick!

The challenge is not to ask a question that will make the candidate give you a hypothetical answer, but to rather ask a question that will utilize the power of the above statement:  that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

So instead of asking what they would do if a certain situation arose, you need to ask them what they have done in the past when a similar situation arose.

To do this correctly, you need to use this 3 step process:

1. Ask them about a specific situation in the past
2. Ask them how they reacted initially in that situation
3. Ask them how they resolved that situation

Example: Let’s say you would like to know how the person you are interviewing deals with conflict. You could for example start by saying:

Working on yachts with people from different cultures and backgrounds, as well as with a lot of work related stress and pressure, it’s possible to be faced with misunderstandings and conflicts.'

And now you ask the question:

'Tell me about a situation in the past where you had a specific conflict with another crew member, how you reacted to it and how you went about resolving it.'

This specific sentence contains all 3 essential questions, ones that will make the person you are interviewing look into their past, tell you about the nature of the conflict, how she reacted to it and what she did to resolve the problem.

Based on the answer, you will have a highly probable idea of how that person would react if similar situation took place.

Now let’s assume that you would like to know how the person you are interviewing deals with taking directions, some of which she may not agree with.

You could start by saying:

'I understand from your CV that in the past 3 years you have worked on 2 different yachts. I know from my own experience that each yacht is run in a different way.  Sometimes things which are done on one yacht one way, are done on another yacht completely differently, and sometimes for this reason you may not find directions easy to follow or agree with.

Tell me about a situation in the past where you were told to do something which you did not like, how it made you react and what you did about it.'

And finally, let’s say you would like to know how your candidate for a 2nd Stewardess would deal with the stress of having to step up unexpectedly.

You could begin in this way:

'During an important guest trip last year I had an accident and had to be taken to hospital.  My 2nd stewardess not only had to step up and replace me, but also had to run the department with one person less.

Tell me if you experienced a similar situation in the past, how it made you feel and how you dealt with it.'

So as you can see, using this 3 step method can be a very powerful tool in situations where the predictability of future behavior is an outcome you are looking for.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if there are any other specific questions you would like to ask during an interview and don’t know how to do it, let me know in the comments below and I will try to help you as soon as I can.


Sylwia is the founder and Director of NUUQ: The Custom Uniform Shop.  An ex-chief stewardess, she uses the knowledge gained onboard to create practical, stylish uniforms, as well as offering hints and job advice to superyacht crew. 

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