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Ready, Aim, Hire!

Hiring is tough — especially these days as the war for talent rages on. Being a candidate is not all rainbows, lollipops and unicorns either — particularly in a climate of rescinded job offers and over-zealous post-pandemic hiring.

During the hiring process, multiple interviews and an audition of some kind (e.g., case study presentation or mock demonstration) are of course to be expected. What baffles me though is the need for countless protracted interview cycles.

A friend of mine went through 6 interviews and 2 demos for a position she really wanted. A week after going through the meat grinder she reached out to the hiring manager. He informed her that the company was now in a hiring freeze and that he had “dropped the ball” by not getting back to her. I get it — we are all running at 100 mph with our heads down. All it would have taken though is a 5-minute call or a 25-word email to save my friend from 7 days of pins and needles.

I firmly believe that people buy from people. Similarly, I believe that people hire people. Study after study shows that cultural fit is a better predictor of long-term success than competency alone. Even when a candidate may check all the boxes on the job spec it does not necessarily mean that he will perform well.

Cultural fit is the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up your organization. A 2005 analysis revealed that employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and the supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance.
— Harvard Business Review

Job interviews are a lot like first dates. We are on our best behaviour. We check for spinach between our teeth. We do the last-minute breath check, and we dive into the unknown. After a time though, we all let our guards down. We all start leaving the cap off the toothpaste and leaving the toilet seat up. This phenomenon is what statistics nerds call regression toward the mean and it makes it very difficult to anticipate how employees may perform in the future.

To quote the great philosopher Yogi Berra, it’s hard to make predictions, especially when they involve the future.

So how can we get a better sense of someone’s behavioural DNA in a 30-minute interview? Well, we can’t. There are a few observations I have made though that are giving me hope.

For example, more people are including a Myers/Briggs type or a Big 5 Personality index score in their LinkedIn profile. While far from perfect I believe that this has the potential to save time for all involved. These scores are not about what a candidate has done in the past or how they would behave in a hypothetical situation. Instead, they give us a small insight into how a candidate is wired to behave.

Is this a panacea that no one has ever thought of before? Of course not. I do think it’s a step in the right direction though.

A few years ago, I interviewed at a company that includes going to dinner with the candidate as part of the process. The thinking is that it’s easier to get to know a person in a more relaxed, non-interview environment — perhaps even with a glass of wine for conversation lubrication. I’m not sure I agree with the idea, but it is certainly innovative.

I also see a trend toward more clear and explicit descriptions of the hiring process. It’s a kind of mutual Service Level Agreement wherein expectations and commitments from both sides are spelled out. That level of transparency is incredibly refreshing.

Look, job-seeking will never be a day at the beach. Hiring will never be a magic carpet ride either. The good news though is that transparency and mutual respect are helping to change that, one job posting at a time.