Messy advice from authoritative organizations makes it hard to hire right.
Today, I want to comment on a famous article from the New Tork Times called How to Hire Right.
As usual, if anyone actually follows the smart sounding advice, they will be wondering why it did not work.
There is very little here that we would nod our head to. They regularly say two smart things and pair with something that would ruin you. All the advice sounds smart. I guess that is why is got published.
The key principles they give at the start are:
Be creative. Every candidate will be prepared for commonplace interview questions. Find new ways to truly understand how a person thinks.
Be challenging. Put the candidate in situations where they are more likely to show their true selves.
Allow your employees to help. You are not the only person who is going to have to work with this candidate. There is likely already a team of employees you trust that will have to interact with him or her every day. Their opinion should matter.
Hard to Hire Right With Experts Saying This
If you are creative and give them a chance to talk about something off base, you will end up hiring good story tellers and dreamers. Anyone can tell you a good theory for how to handle some situation. You will not succeed by this path in improving your hiring and may get worse.
Be Challenging leads to putting candidates on the defensive. You are guaranteed to get people acting in this challenging mode, and then you will hire the best actor.
Allow your employees to help. These people could be this person’s coworker. Think carefully. Also, adding more interviewers tends to lower ownership for each interviewer. This one piece is not death like the other two but how are you to know? This is too messy and leads to political hiring especially here in China. Also take a look at our pst on Recruiting and Time.
Is the person genuinely interested in the work of the organization?
Do they treat people as equals, regardless of their title?
We think both of these things are good. Unfortunately, the very worst hires know these two points well. The best actors will perform these flawlessly.
They recommend taking them on the shop floor to parse this issue or by taking them out to dinner. I can only shake my head. Can we use more than gimmics?
Furthermore, they say to throw curve balls by asking unusual questions. If they have a good answer to “Would you accept a trip to near space?” Will they make a good leader for your factory?
The article urges us to ask what animal they would choose to be and why.
I just smile and shake my head.
Simple Is Better But Not Easier
Someone got paid to do this article. Why can’t we just ask them what they did and show more curiosity and dig deeper? Finding out what the candidate did in that hard situation is much more predictive than her telling me how she would if it happened. Furthernore, the real story is also checkable. Lets give up on being tricky and really get candidates talking on what they actually did. You may also like Digging Deeper in Recruiting Helps.