Dirty Secrets and Hiring Managers Tips: Beware the Interview Audition

Scottish singer Susan Boyle in November 2009

Susan Boyle - image via Wikipedia

Many managers dread hiring people.

It’s a dirty little secret, and one of the things that causes people to realize that they are not cut out for management.

There are things you can do to help avoid that dread; they aren’t elaborate, and with a little practice you can make the hiring process easier (dare I say “enjoyable”), hopefully less painful, and more reliable. In short, the type of thing that can get rid of some of that hiring dread.

Some of this stuff is simple (not simplistic) but not always done. Here is the how-to-stuff with related posts:

The statistics for hiring effectiveness, unless you use good behavioral based interviewing with solid reference checks, are not-so-hot. Here you can see what those stats look like.

Here’s one other tip. Give yourself time, and multiple contact points with a candidate; the more senior the role, the more occasions you should take to meet with them and preferably over a multi-day period.

Not unlike dating (“Gee, what was I thinking? They seemed so great when I met them at the singles bar.”), seeing people over multiple time points moves you away from the snap judgements chronicled by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink, and affords you the luxury of collecting more data.

There are people who “make a great first impression” and people who “wear well.” I think generally you want to hire the latter, not the former. And while I listen to the voice in my gut on first impressions, I also give myself some space of time and contact to see if it gets confirmed or changed.

Interviews can be like auditions (channel Susan Boyle in Britain’s Got Talent) – just part of the story but not the whole narrative. People have been known to nail interviews – just like they can nail auditions or a spot on Britain’s Got Talent – but not perform strongly afterwards.

Your job as a managers is to hire consistent, strong, durable talent that performs well day-to-day, not just in the interview.

That approach of avoiding being blinded by a single interview and looking at candidates over several encounters produces better data for you, and  that makes you as a hiring manager look good, and makes any bonus checks a little heavier.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

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