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Wasting Time Doing Job Interviews?

An article on BusinessInsider.com argues that the interviewing process most commonly used by managers today may, in 50 years, be viewed as out of touch and antiquated.  While author Ed Baldwin may be correct, his 50 year time line seems distant from the reality that hiring managers face today.

“So you hire a programmer without actually making them do any programming? Yep.  You hire a sales person without actually seeing if they can sell? Yes, that’s right” proclaims Baldwin.  It is indeed a reality of today’s business world that most positions are filled based on the perception that the candidate will succeed.  The person you hire is perceived to have sufficient experience based on a resume.  They are perceived to have a level of aptitude, based on a diploma.  It is perceived that they will be an asset to your team based on the opinion of an individual who no longer employs them.  

  • Do you really know if the resume is accurate or was it an exercise in creative writing?
  • Do you really know what the candidate learned in college and are you sure (s)he did not have someone else write their term papers or take classes with the easiest professors or load their academic calendars with the rigors of “Introduction to Golf”  or “Scuba Diving 101”?
  • Are you sure the reference is giving you accurate information or are they simply being nice to ensure your candidate never works for them again?  Are you valuing a vague reference (you know those HR policies about references) because there was nothing derogatory mentioned by the person providing the reference?

In today’s business climate, making the right hiring decision is tougher than ever.  At our office, we recently advertised an administrative position that generated more than 700 resumes.  In over a decade of management, I have never seen a single job posting gain such attention.  These 700+ applicants were indicative of a job market where high school graduates, college graduates and seasoned professionals are all vying for the same jobs, even in cases where those jobs are significantly “less” than the skills or experience of the applicant.

The question remains, then, how do you truly find the best people for your open position?  Baldwin answered the question through his quips about hiring programmers and sales people without making them demonstrate that they can program or sell.  As a hiring manager, avail yourself of opportunities and processes that allow you to view the work of the person you plan to hire. 

  • In your interviewing process, forego the cookie-cutter interview questions and ask the applicant to demonstrate or describe how they would approach key aspects of their job.  
  • If appropriate, utilize pre-employment assessments (CAUTION – much scrutiny is being given by the EEOC to pre-employment assessments, especially if they, in anyway, appear to have a disparate impact on those belonging to protected classes) to validate the skills and capabilities of your applicant.  
  • An increasingly popular option is to engage a staffing firm, like MiSource, Inc. (www.misource.com) to provide you a qualified employee on a “contract-to-perm” (try before you buy) arrangement.  In lieu of spending the time and money to advertise a job, pour over countless resumes, interview candidates, hire the “best” candidate and 3 weeks later find out the “best” candidate was not so great, consider a contract-to-perm arrangement.  MiSource will understand your requirements, conduct a search for the best candidates, narrow those hundreds of candidates down to a select few, allow you to interview or assess them and ultimately decide who you think is the best fit.  Best of all, if you are wrong, you are not saddled with months of HR processes to make a change; we  will facilitate the change and find you another candidate for you to evaluate under the real pressure of performing the job.

There is no better assessment of an applicant’s suitability for your position than to actually have them do the job you are hiring them to do.  By having your candidate perform the job, you will clearly understand work ethic (do they spend more time on Facebook than they do working?), skill (are their computer skills as advanced as a Commodore 64?), knowledge (were they really a contributing member of that project team or were they that team member everyone wants kicked off the project?) and commitment (is your position a part of their career path or are they simply using you as filler until they can find that next step?).  In the words of John Keats “Nothing ever becomes real 'til it is experienced.”

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