Competency based interviews always say more than intended. The format is simple. Individuals are asked to tell stories that illustrate. There are no right or wrong stories, just stories. Whatever the individual chooses, an illustration or lesson learned, opens up a conversation. I love being on the receiving end. It is an opportunity to listen, dialogue, and then reflect.
In a recent round of interviews, the tough task of informing the candidates that were not successful fell to me. The choice had been clear. The challenge was to communicate the decision and give the candidates an opportunity to ask questions. Inevitably, the core question each asked was “why”? Why did I not get the assignment? How did you draw your conclusions? What was the foundation for the final decision?
In each, there was an implicit/explicit thread of questioning the source of the analysis and decision. The stories were the answer. Strengths, weaknesses, flexibility (or lack of) all came through. The choice of stories in itself revealed more than the storyteller realized. The way their character behaved and the lessons were taken away (or not) explained more. In the end, I found myself holding a self-portrait.
Storytelling and listening to stories are lost arts that one does well to recover. I find myself listening more now than at anytime in my life. I find it important. In the story of others are lessons, insight, and wisdom. If one listens deeply, one hears the whisper of Divinity working in and on their lives.
I have rediscovered an old model. When one wisdom father knew he stood accused, he confronted the issue directly by calling the opposition leaders together and telling stories. “Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together for a meeting at his house. He said, ‘The Jews in Jerusalem arrested me on trumped-up charges, and I was taken into custody by the Romans. I assure you that I did absolutely nothing against Jewish laws or Jewish customs.’” (Acts 28.17) His story was the beginning of a self-portrait.
Today’s stories will continue your portrait and mine.