In her book Sharktales
, entrepreneur and investor Barbara Corcoran writes that when you’re trying to gauge how genuine someone is, it’s important to look for consistency between what
they say and how
they say it.
For example, people who are naturally aggressive and competitive won’t simply describe themselves as such — they will act that way if you challenge them.
To illustrate her point, Corcoran describes her experience interviewing sales candidates in the early days of her company The Corcoran Group.
Here’s how she recalls her dialogue with the first interviewee, a “well-coiffed” woman named Mary.
After chatting for a while about Mary’s family and hobbies, Corcoran redirected the conversation.
Corcoran: “Mary, I’m so happy you’ve spent all this time telling me about your family and friends. But would you mind if I’m totally honest with you?”
Mary: “Please, of course not.”
Corcoran: “Well, Mary, after working with so many different people, I guess I’ve concluded that great salespeople have a few things in common. The first is empathy … it’s obvious to me that you’re very, very good with people. Would you agree?“
Mary: “Yes, of course. Yes, yes, I’m very good with people.”
Corcoran: “But I’ve also found that the other thing all great salespeople share is a real need to succeed – I’d almost call it a killer instinct. And for whatever reason, I’m just not getting that from you.”
Corcoran paused, sat back and waited for a response.
Mary spent several long minutes explaining how she really was aggressive. But as Corcoran puts it, Mary’s “words were right, but I knew her music was all wrong. So, I bade her good-bye and promised to call if a position became available. I knew it never would.”
A dozen interviews later, a candidate named Emily marched confidently into Corcoran’s office.
As Corcaran tells the story, when she reached her standard I-don’t-think-you’re-aggressive line during the interview, “Emily was so insulted I thought she’d leap across the desk and grab my throat. And as she yap-yap-yapped in my face, I knew Emily was the right gal for me.”