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Tough concepts in positive psychology: whose competence is being tested in an interview

We’ve been trained to think that we know what must be done

One of the hardest concepts to grasp in positive existential psychology, is the idea of open endedness.  It is an anathema to the soul of a psychologist trained in positivist thinking and to a manager trained in “gap techniques”.

In the old school, we are supposed to define a goal or an outcome and achieve what we say we are going to achieve.  We are supposed to be competent and confident that what we say will work, will work.  We are supposed to be able to make more things work than our neighbor.

Yet, the most important skill is to tolerate uncertainty

David Whyte talks of frontier conversations where we do not know the outcome and of places where we are not certain of our competence.

We need to change our methods of selection to allow for not knowing what must be done

If we insist on defining things as competencies, then we need to check whether the people joining our organization can tolerate being in a situation where they do not know if they understand or will ever understand.

Equally, if tolerating uncertainty is a competence important to the organization, the interviewer needs to be in a likewise situation.

A new definition of a good selection interview

Great! Two people don’t know what they are doing.  So my definition of a good interview is when I have learned something from the person I am interviewing!

Here is a quotation of David Whyte reprinted by Inner Edge.

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