I was recently reviewing a questionnaire for prospective employees. One of Company X’s strategies is provide a survey for each field of expertise for which they have a job posted. Instead of having a 200 item survey that they can decipher parts from, they have shorter forms more specified. I like the approach and told them so. One might find that even the most qualified applicant will score lower than accurate, especially on the last 50 questions, because they don’t apply or because of test fatigue, No one wins.
The items described a specific situation and asked which was the best way to accomplish the goal, or solve a problem. You are familiar with multiple choice tests? There is usually a right answer, a pair of close answers, and one you know is wrong, or a gimme the teacher throws at you to be funny. Technically speaking, as a teacher, that gimme, or obviously wrong answer, actually skews the validity of that question by unfairly directing the taker toward the right answer and away from it. Its a marginal mistake, but it is one. I suggested to the company that they do what Lowe’s and other customer service minded companies have begun doing. Ask the candidate to identify the best and worst answer. In this way we are eliminating the worst answer as a distraction, and giving it value, as what not to do-intentionally.
This applies to real world situations as well. The best way to handle an irate customer may be to employ skill-set A. Skill sets B & C are not as effective choices, but is it clear to the professional that skill set D is NOT the way to handle it? This is as useful as knowing to pick A.
I was managing a Margaritaville-style deck bar. It was outdoors and there were always reggae bands playing. There were always mosquitos. We had bucket candles of citronella burning and the more ambient tiki torches as well. As much low light mood as they provided, they were oil lamps repelling pests, first and foremost. every now and then one bucket candle would go supernova. That is, the top layer of molten oil would ignite, not just the wick. The best answer – which had been modeled before – was to simply slide a small B&B plate over the top and quickly snuff the flame. The plates were heat rated porcelain, and it caused no scene. The bucket could then be taken by the handle and replaced with a fresh one, or at least a safe one. Option B would be to grab the handle while it was burning- possible but not nearly as recommended. What you NEVER do is what my server did. Throw a glass of water on it.
The kitchen staff would have known as much. Knowing the best options makes you a well informed customer service professional. Knowing exactly what we are trying to prevent under any circumstances, makes you an invaluable one.