How to HIRE great people by Oleg Vishnepolsky

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Job interviews often lead to wrong hiring decisions.

If you were to interview a baseball player, you would not ask him how he holds the bat, and how far apart he keeps his feet. Yet, these are the kind of questions people get asked on the interviews – theoretical.

Problems:

1) There is almost no correlation between theoretical questions and on the job performance.

2) Hiring managers are overly confident that they can determine personality and cultural fit based based on a 30-60 mins interview. All they are really able to determine how well one acted on their specific interview.

Even scientist-experts in such matters as human behavior and cultural fitness require long observations and extensive testing – and even they will tell you that they are often wrong.

Candidates who perform best with such questions are simply able to give us answers we want to hear.

3) In technical professions managers confuse communication skills with technical abilities and knowledge. That is, some of the best developers I knew did not have good communication skills.

4) This is the age of an empowerment and collaboration where individual performance becomes less important. Individual performance still matters, but the collaboration does not get enough focus on the interviews.

5) Many highly qualified people do not perform well in a setting of an interview.

6) Many times I hired people who could not answer any of my questions, and they all did very well. I saw a potential in each one of them. See my related article – Hire people who FAIL interviews.

I am not for abolishing interviews altogether. I am for completely overhauling the process.

Suggestions:

1) For senior candidates reverse the process, let them interview you and then produce a plan for the next 30-90-180 days – if they are being considered for a management position.

If they are a technical person – let them produce a diagram. Let them point out to you problems and alternatives with your set-up.

You should allow them to question you over email as a homework. I do not believe in limiting interactions to short periods of time during an interview. That’s not how we work. Why should interview be any different ?

2) In fact, do it for other candidates as well – let them interview you, and see what kind of questions they ask and how quickly they can ascertain how things work in your organisation.

Focus your attention on the potential of the candidate to come up to speed fast.

Some of that will be evident from the questions they ask you and conclusions they draw. Some will be evident from the resume – what was the speed with each they applied a newly acquired skill to a real project.

3) Abolish a long sequence of short interviews with lots of people interviewing a candidate.

Interviewing is not speed dating.

The expectation that your interviewers can form a qualified opinion based on 30 mins interviews is very flawed. Even a skill can not be verified that quickly – unless you are hiring burger flippers.

But more importantly, you are looking for a potential in a candidate – not just skills.

4) Give strong preference to practical questions. Ask the candidate to write a little project plan, or a piece of computer code, or make a sales call to one of your employees. Or something like that:

5) Abolish cultural fit and personality type questions. Unless of course we want to stack up our ranks with people who give us answers we want to hear.

Cultural fit is important but – firstly -it is impossible to determine based on a short interaction. Secondly, even if it was possible to measure, it totally discounts the candidate’s ability to adopt to a new culture.

6) A little secret to my career success. I always hired people who were smarter than me. In my case finding such people was very easy.

Do not be afraid to hire overqualified people either. You want the best.

7) Above all, please give everyone a chance. Please, please do not set your selection criteria too narrow.

Oleg Vishnepolsky

Global CTO at DailyMail Online and Metro.Co.Uk

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