In the bell curve of internet advertising response, for every great candidate, there are an equal number of responses from poor candidates and significantly more average candidates. I suppose that it depends on your definition of a ‘lemon,’ but for the company that wants to employ the best, it is crucial to explore whether your radar is calibrated to seek out the very top talent that applies.
There are many aspects to making the right decision, but for me, there are several universal ‘truths’ that are often overlooked:
It is human nature that we tend to make instant judgements and then seek to find evidence to back up our instincts.
It is important to focus on a mix of emotional cues and logical evidence to ensure that we are not simply hiring someone because we ‘like’ them. Although that is, of course, important.
Recruiting for attitude is a great approach, but the attitude has to be backed up by real examples of how they have applied themselves. Digging into their values with probing questions should not feel awkward, and a genuinely good candidate should feel very happy to share their feelings. Understanding the dynamics of how they work with others in various situations will give you a feel for how they will fit in.
I also believe that we underestimate the role of external circumstance in someone’s career. You might wonder why they didn’t take a promotion at a certain time, but it may have coincided with a difficult period in their personal lives. Unless you ask the searching questions, they will be unlikely to reveal the wider picture. Even the best candidates want to present themselves in the best light, and for some, this involves telling a few white lies about the less than ideal periods in their lives. Taking a senior candidate out of the formal interview situation (maybe to lunch) often allows them to ‘let you in’ a little more.
Some of the best potential candidates can have average interview skills, and some of the worst potential hires are great in interviews.
You have to look behind their interview performance and see the substance behind their application. When someone has a track record of obvious excellence, it should be possible to turn a blind eye to a few interview nerves. If on the other hand, there are some ‘red flag’ behaviours in the interview such as anger or defensiveness, it is fair to say that they could manifest themselves at a later point. If someone can’t control their emotions at interview, they will be unlikely to be able to do it under pressure at work.
Lastly, we should maybe remember that our opinion is simply one opinion. Invite a colleague into the process. Make sure that you take a telephone reference, but do it personally. Stand back and think about what the wider team would think of the person. They will touch many people when you bring them into your organisation – forget your personal views for a moment.
There are numerous other tips which are equally relevant. If you are responsible for introducing new people to a business, which things are at the front of your mind when you go into that interview room?
Over the past week I have been sharing my thoughts on the truths associated with ‘how to not recruit a lemon’ on the Main-Board Twitter account.
You can catch up with my full list by following Main-Board on Twitter.