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Sometimes I like to go back to basics and ask the fundamental questions to myself. Being part of the hiring team of my organization for more than a decade and half, I thought I should answer this basic question. Does job interviews work? Is there a scientific explanation of the hiring process? Do we follow up on our hires to understand whether they are doing well in the organization or moving to greener pastures?

First Impression

I work in a consultancy/services firm. Most of our work requires us to interact with several clients across geographies. Sometimes the interactions are face-to-face and sometimes over the phone. I look for a person who is likeable at first 5-10 minutes. This is a vibe you get while discussing with a person. If the candidate is likeable or there is no obvious reason not to like the person, then the candidate passes the first litmus test. Remember, the candidate is often the face of the company. If he is obnoxious, then there might be a big problem with the client which takes lot of effort to fix.

Working Under Pressure

Every candidate comes for a job interview to succeed. The mode of success differs. Some candidates tend to agree to whatever the interviewer says. Some people show their personality to shock and awe the interviewer, and some are basically good-natured, balanced person. Apart from the basic nature, I like to see them working under pressure. I deliberately give them some unsolvable problem or lose-lose scenario and ask them to choose. These situations tend to show the real person underneath. There are more than one way to solve a problem. Some candidate becomes aggressive, some become defensive and some turns out to be passive. I remember in some workshop which I attended, the teacher asked us to put different client personas in a scale from 1, 5, and 10. One of the chaps marked a persona between 5 and 10, where there was no marker, and said humans can be unpredictable! I am hoping to find a guy like that!

General Traits for a Good Hire

When I hire a candidate, I am looking for a candidate who will stay with the organization. I have a fair idea about what my organization can provide and my goal is to hire a person who is a match for the organization. If the person is good with technical skills, can learn or has demonstrated eagerness in learning new skills, can deliver under pressure, and contribute to the organization, then I know for sure that the person will grow in the company as well. The growth opportunities will be open to the candidate which will tend to make them stay longer. It’s a mutual win-win!

“the price of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. This monetary loss is comprised of a number of elements, including costs associated with recruitment, relocation, training, and litigation fees (in a worst-case scenario).”

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Following Up with the Manager

Not all of my decisions are right, and I would like to learn from my mistakes. Generally 10% of new hires are identified as hiring mistakes and let go. There is a 6 months’ probation period and I would like to have a touch point with the new hire’s manager to understand how is he doing.  If I am very wrong, I would like to think back and evaluate my notes about the candidate. I try to find out any correlation between what I have measured and how the person is performing in her new role. This helps my understanding and advances my knowledge as well.

Conclusion

We started the article by asking whether the interviews work. The answer which I deduced is the interviews provide us with a quick window to the candidate in terms of engagement, challenges and pressure. These are the daily things we face in our life and we can quickly check whether they fit in the organization and can grow with the company. So interviews, however changed the process, are still essential for choosing the right candidate.

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