Interviewing is not the Olympics! (or is it?)


Hiring is a screening process.  BUT is your process built to screen candidates IN or to screen candidates OUT?


All too frequently, companies will eliminate a candidate from consideration based on a single interaction.  The question we will examine today is how much weight we should be putting on that single “bad” meeting (especially if it has followed a series of good meetings) instead considering the totality of a candidate’s potential, including work history, credentials, track record and character, especially when they have proven their value repeatedly.   


Far too often, hiring managers do not have a clearly defined “target” when it comes to hiring.  As such, they apply may preconceived notions to the hiring process.  What was successful as recently as a couple of years ago, in many ways, does not totally apply today.  Frequently, we fall into the trap of looking at viewing the hiring process like the Olympics.   


For the Olympics, world class athletes train their entire lives for a chance to compete for a few minutes.  Very frequently, the perceived favorite does not win the gold or even any medal.  Does this mean that these athletes are not the very best in the world and that over time if given the similar opportunity on any given day that the results would be the same?  Of course not. And if you were to wager on that same event a week later, you would probably still bet on the favorite ahead of the one that actually won the event, recognizing the entire body of work, not just that individual performance.  


I would suggest that far too often, we tend to screen candidates out and remove them from the interview process too quickly. Why do we do this? Because We Can? Because we think we have too many candidates that are capable for a single posting?  Or perhaps because we have been trained to screen out rather than screen in.  When we do this, we are liable to miss great candidates.


Far too often, we tend to focus on one single element of the screening process, rather than the totality of what is important to make a successful hire including: 

  • The resume
  • Real skills
  • Soft skills
  • The “story” of how they got here
  • What makes them stand out (or shrink) compared to the rest of the candidate pool
  • The environment
  • Unique experiences
  • Challenges overcome
  • Diversity

These are all things that may not be so obvious when you interview a candidate on a quick 30-minute meeting (in 2022, most frequently on a video call!) but might become incredibly evident down the road when it’s too late to hire them! 


If we want to keep getting better at identifying hidden gems of talent, then we need to change our approach when interviewing candidates because right now most companies are missing out on these opportunities everyday based solely on a quick zoom call. 


I would propose that we shift our interview processes away from the Olympics mindset.  That one bad showing, on any particular element of the interview process perhaps be viewed in totality of the entire process. 


Over the years, I can recall countless situations where a candidate interview may not have gone ideally. Nonetheless, the prospective employer decided to keep the candidate in the process anyway and ended up hiring a fantastic candidate, that has led to incredible long-term success.  We often counsel our clients to perhaps have another short meeting, check a couple of references, add a technical test, or even have candidates make a full presentation, as additional steps to the process.  This will either confirm or differentiate the initial impression, at least giving a solid candidate the opportunity to distinguish themselves (either positively or negatively).    


As a hiring manager, you are not always the best at every single interview, we should not expect candidates to be either. There are many different types of interviews, and there are many different types of candidates, and there are many different types of companies. There is no one-size-fits-all way to do this. You have to be smart about how you approach each interview process. Sometimes candidates (and hiring managers) will shine, sometimes they won’t—everyone has off days! 

 Feel free to reach out directly to discuss this topic further as well as any other questions or concerns regarding the current hiring climate. I guarantee that in our call together you will leave with 2 or 3 ideas that will greatly impact your ability to find, attract, and procure the top 10-15% of the candidate pool on a consistent basis.




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