Its’ that time of year, where there is a higher incidence of musical chairs in the corporate world with people changing jobs. If you are in a leadership role, chances are you’ll have a resignation or two on the horizon, or new job openings and will be faced with the inevitable task of having to recruit new people to fill roles. Interviewing candidates can be a daunting process and there is endless advice I can offer you but for the sake of this article, I will focus on a couple of ‘traps’ managers often fall into when interviewing candidates for a role.
Look out for ‘professional interviewees’.
Have you ever had someone start a job and just not meet the expectations you formed of them during their interview process? Some people have absolutely mastered the art of interviewing and are in it to win it. They interview extremely well and present themselves as the perfect fit for the role at hand, yet when they start the job, the cracks begin to show, and you are left wondering what went wrong.
Rather than just focussing on the standard questions you know they have been able to rehearse, try to throw in some ‘fluff-busting’ curveballs that stand a chance of giving valuable insights and revealing the real person. This involves you probing deeper. If the candidate says for example “I want another job” ask them “what job, specifically…” If they say they successfully launched a new product, ask them “how, specifically?”, or “how did you go about that, specifically?”. You could even take the opportunity to challenge their thinking to see how they respond. If they mention they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do something a particular way for example, ask them “What would happen if you did?”. If they say they did something a particular way, ask when they didn’t do it another way.
By probing a little deeper and asking challenging questions they haven’t prepared for, you may gain a bit of insight into what their behaviour in the role will be. Be careful though as people can feel uncomfortable having the limitations in their thinking exposed. It’s sensitive territory but certainly worth exploring to avoid hiring the wrong person for the job.
Avoid falling for the ‘Clone Syndrome’.
As humans we naturally want to build rapport with people and work with people we like.People achieve rapport when the differences between them are minimised and the similarities between them have been maximised. Avoid recruiting someone just because they are most like you. It doesn’t mean they have the skill set required to do the best job. The same goes if you find you have something in common. Perhaps you went to the same school, worked with the same people or share similar interests. Keep in mind that once we make a connection with someone our perception of them improves rapidly so you’ll likely be conducting the interview or making a recruitment decision wearing rose coloured glasses. If you find yourself really liking a candidate because you have made a connection, you’ll need to focus extra hard on their skills and whether they have what it takes to fulfil the needs of the role. I have seen managers recruit team members who are close to incompetent simply because they ‘seemed to get on with them’, ‘felt comfortable with them’, or even ‘reminded me of myself when I was younger’.
Another form of the clone syndrome is when managers hire someone because they are just like the person previously in the role. Avoid thinking you need to hire “another Clare”. I have worked with managers who have literally hired someone who looks just like the previous person in the role. Again, going in to an interview with the thought of “hiring another Clare” will just put you in the mindset of looking for someone just like Clare. You may end up thinking a candidate that most resembles the old person in the role has the best skills for the job, so you may choose the fun, young female because Clare was a fun, young female, at the expense of the more skilled, older, male candidate. When you are hiring a replacement person for a role, take the opportunity also to review whether the skills and attitudes required to do the job are still relevant, that the position has not changed and that advances have not been made in the technology that surrounds the job. Recruiting someone like the person who just left can easily lead to stagnation.
If you are facing the task of recruiting in the near future, you might be interested in my book Precision Recruitment Skills, which will give you my insight into hiring the right person for the job, the first time.