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How a 'Prepare & Teach' Exercise can form a fundamental part of the interview process for Lean Champions

As Jeremy Praud, Managing Partner of global improvement support and consultancy partner 'Lauras International' has said to me on many occasions over the last 14 years.... 

“Getting the right individuals who fit the profile of our business is an absolute imperative for us; the cost of the wrong recruit would be huge for us" 

Luckily his hires have worked out very well, but it's a statement that we can all relate to.  The question is, how do we continue to improve and advance our interview process to be certain of recruiting the right candidate?

One such interview exercise is the 'Prepare & Teach' which forms part of Lauras International's Lean / Improvement Practitioners recruitment process. 

Over to you Jeremy..... 

The Prepare & Teach exercise is designed to identify likely real life behaviours of the candidate. It is used in conjunction with interview questions - and so how well a candidate compares in practice to their interview responses can be assessed.

Each candidate is asked in advance, to come to the interview with a "Teach" prepared. The instruction itself is very simply "You will have 20 minutes to teach us something". Inevitably it is necessary to explain that the instruction really is that simple, and help people avoid some of the likely pitfalls, so we follow up with some pointers:

  • The subject can be anything... to do with work, to do with home - anything at all (although home is probably better and more interesting than work)
  • 20 minutes is a deadline, and no more time will be available, so you may wish to leave time for questions.
  • A flip chart and pens will be available
  • The presentation will be in a meeting room with 2-3 people to teach.
  • You may bring any props, materials, etc. you wish, but none are required.
  • There may be a level of role play during the teach, so don't be put off - and treat the people in the room as trainees not interviewers.

The interviewers who are going to be in the teach agree before hand which roles they intent to play. It's important that the interviewers don't get carried away - they need to keep to their natural behaviour as much as possible to realistically engage with the trainer - but it is possible to replicate a range of situations by having one person who starts off keeping quiet to see if the trainer will try to engage them, and another person to be more naturally enthusiastic.

The 20 minutes is strictly adhered too, although it's ok to finish early. The interviewers then rate the effectiveness of the teach - how effective the teach was, how well the participant engaged, what their teaching style was like, confidence, etc.

The outcome is always interesting. A great deal about an individual's behaviours can be gleaned, because the very open nature of the task, and opportunity to prepare, gives a closer indication of real life performance than can normally be found in the interview environment. Firstly, the subject choice - a very easy choice suggests a less risk averse behaviour than someone choosing a very difficult subject. How well they know their chosen subject indicates levels of judgement. Clearly the teach is an opportunity to determine performance & style in terms of training, and engagement of the participants - but beyond that the teach is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate other behaviours in areas such as influencing skills (e.g. persuasiveness & impact), achievement motivation (e.g. commitment, energy, and initiative), and judgement, empathy, and listening. Finally, how prepared someone comes to the interview tells you a lot about their commitment to the process...

Thank you, Jeremy. 

A favourite of mine was teaching the rules of Australian Rules Football, but the winner has to be the teaching of memorising pi to 50 decimal places - potentially a mega dry subject, but delivered with brilliant humour and enthusiasm!     


Author: Dan Sculthorp