Don’t let first impressions fool you
Over the past 12 years, I’ve coached many through the career transition process always encouraging them to research the companies carefully they interview with. The best candidates will research your organization’s work environment, business culture as well as current needs before you interview them. They do this because they want to ask informed, respectful questions to demonstrate their professionalism
Unfortunately, few job candidates give careful thought to whether they are a comfortable, win-win fit for your open position. If you make them an offer, they’ll likely accept it.
Understand who you are and assess your needs
To prevent costly hiring mistakes, lay the groundwork by clearly defining your company’s values, business culture and priorities. Then factor in your emerging skills requirements. Do your due diligence. Which among your competitors have the best, most stable record of growth? Are they doing a better job than you at capturing candidates, i.e., those with the most-in-demand skills to better meet emerging tech and other changes? –If so, consider updating your posted job descriptions and hiring process to strategically expand your talent base.
Avoid the trap of confirmation bias
Decades of research consistently show that interviewers decide whether they like a candidate within the first 10 seconds of meeting them–certainly within the first few minutes. Interviewers generally fail to understand the power of this confirmation bias, i.e., “the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses.” In other words, if a hiring manager likes a candidate, she or he subconsciously selects out responses and behaviors that confirm their first, immediate impression.
Adding another layer of subjective bias are unit managers who just go with their gut. They are under the illusion that their intuition is impeccable and make no apologies for their ‘process.’ So, they end up consistently hiring candidates who they are like them, who share their interests and personality type.
There’s nothing wrong with ensuring interpersonal compatibility. But always remember- that persuasive, charming candidates may be brilliant at interviewing, but may perform poorly once hired. Some of them are con artists, so toxic that once on the job they measurably undermine team morale and productivity. I’ve seen it happen.
Objectively assess interpersonal skills
Seasoned hiring managers often sagely comment that they are willing to train a proactive, interpersonally gifted new hire to come up to speed on technical skills they may be lacking. Not that you should have to compromise between the two. However, research does confirm that so-called ‘soft skills,’ especially, communication competence and emotional intelligence are the best determiners of success on the job.
In Part II, I’ll describe why structured interviews are the only way to go, plus the advantages of using validated screening tests to assess your candidate’s’ intelligence, problem-solving abilities and emotional intelligence.