Ask Probing Questions

Published: Golf Course Industry Magazine
Year: February 2011
Title: Ask Probing Questions

Not long ago we discussed some basic questions to use when interviewing equipment manager candidates. Here are five more great queries to weave into your line of questioning.

1. “What were the most significant accomplishments you made at your last job?”
This question reveals whether the individual sets goals at a new position and what they were able to achieve. Your candidate should be able to name some things they’ve accomplished. You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by how they answer this simple question. What you don’t want to hear: “They never gave me the things I needed to get anything accomplished.”

2. “If hired, describe what your first week would look like.”
When I’m interviewing for a position I make some quick assessments: How does the equipment look? How well is the facility organized? How tight are reels set? Is a preventive maintenance system in place? What are the expectations and are they realistic? These are issues I evaluate without ever needing to ask them. This sets my goals for future accomplishments. This question gauges a candidate’s interest in the position and gives you an idea of what you would be seeing the first week of their employment. Will they review what has been done already and how it has been done? Will they observe the current processes that are in place? You never want someone to come on-board and just start changing everything.

3. “What was your favorite part about your last job?”
Now you’re trying to find something positive from the person’s last or current employment. This question gives you insight into what the applicant likes. You also want to know whether an individual is a positive thinker or dwells on the negative. You want to employ positive people, people who can take the good with the bad and brush things off when they don’t go just right. Golf course management is not something that goes well 365 days a year. Things will happen, mistakes will be made and you need to have people who can adapt and help when things are rough. This is tough to find, so when you do, no matter what position you are hiring for, hold on to them.

4. Scenario question: “A staff member comes to you with a fly mower that fell off the back of his cart and now the fuel tank is leaking. How do you handle that situation?”
This is the ultimate personality question. You’re looking to identify what type of manager or leader you are interviewing. This question can go in three different directions. One: “I would just take the fly mower and give him another one.” This tells me that the individual is either telling me what he thinks I want to hear or is someone that goes with the flow. This individual is OK with everything as it is and really won’t go above and beyond, but does what is needed to get the job done. Two: “I would take the fly mower and report him to the superintendent.” This individual does not want to step on anyone’s toes but he wants someone to be aware that there is an issue with an employee and he would like to see it resolved. Three: “I would ask him how it happened, explain to him the proper way of securing the fly mower to his vehicle, remind him of how much it costs to fix the issue and then explain the issue to the superintendent.” This applicant went above and beyond to make sure the employee understood what the effects of mistakes cost, trained him in the proper way of securing the equipment and got him back on the course. Overall, this individual would gain the respect of the staff and will be more willing to report accidents when they happen.

5. “Do you or have you played golf?”
It’s a simple, but effective, question. A tech is not required to play golf, however those who do have a sense of pride in the product they are helping to create because they understand the importance. You can’t expect a technician who hasn’t played golf to understand how important it is that everything is cut perfect and that topdressing is necessary. Playing the game is just as important as working in it, no matter what position you are in.


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