Business 24 September 2019
The hiring process is so stale that you really do not need to get that creative to be unusual. I find it fascinating how our society has yet to figure out how to engage in relational dynamics that are actually focused on joint problem solving as opposed to an evaluator/evaluatee framework.
When I used to think about hiring outside the box or approaching hiring creatively, I thought I needed big magnanimous stunts and gestures to pull it off. I would go into interviews disguised as a janitor, I would have candidates work on building legos together, drawing, painting, problem-solving, case building, etc. I would try all the alternatives I could find to maximize my findings during the interview process. But as I found out over the years, I did not have to go that far at all in order to hire unusually.
I found out something really obvious over the years: interviews are terrible vessels for people to get to know each other truthfully. Everyone is putting on a show. To make a terrible analogy, consider dating. People are at their best, hiding their flaws and playing up their strengths, flirting by lying and omission in order to control the perception of the other. Interviews share a lot of these traits.
The opposition between the interviewer and interviewee makes it so that both parties are trying to sell to each other. The interviewer sells the idea that working in that organization is a dream while the interviewee sells the idea that they are the perfect match for that position. It is pretty ludicrous when you think about it. Rather than have an open and honest dialogue about the organization, the candidate and the fit or unfit, interviewers flaunt how "great" the organization is, rejoicing in schadenfreude from the candidates who so desperately want to make it through and be accepted by the all-powerful interviewer. It boils down to power-tripping that adds very little value to a meticulous selection process.
That is why I try to deconstruct this framework. Hiring is not about us evaluating candidates. It's about trying to establish whether or not fundamentally there is a cultural and behavioral fit. We will also consider past experience and skills, but these are secondary to the decision making process. The primary driver is the fit; both the candidate and the interviewer are discovering for themselves whether the fit is there or not.
Even though it's straight-forward, deconstructing the current paradigm is not easy given how ingrained it is in our thought-process. Deconstruction is a multi-pronged process and it involves the following elements:
Get out of the evaluator chair. You are no different, no better than the person you are interviewing. Be normal, be human and make others feel comfortable. This gives people the chance to disarm and forget about having to prove themselves. Having the chance to see people in their natural state is the greatest revelation you can attain from an interview. No one I know can work in interview mode all the time. It's not sustainable. Work is stressful and the hours are long. That's why we want an interview process that leads us to find people who feel naturally comfortable in our culture.
Focus on the behavioral aspects. We tend to be very impressed with big names and big titles on people's resumes. But we are not hiring their education nor their work experience. We are hiring a person. And that's what we want to get to know. How do they react when feeling examined? How do they feel when we are smiling? How do they feel about being confronted? How do they deal with pressure? And you don't find out these behavioral trends from asking about them. You find out about these things by getting to know a candidate. Go beyond your own biases and use your senses.
I strongly advise candidates not to work with us. Why should we try to pretend that it's great working here? It's not. It's work. Most people would not choose to work here if they had 50 billion dollars in the bank. That's just a fact of life. We don't want people choosing us for the wrong reasons. Paying bills, needing a job, wanting to advance a career. Those are all legitimate pursuits that most of us share. But we want to hire people based on the deeper motivational drivers. We want to find people who want to be a part of something bigger than their own selves, who do not mind getting into constructive conflicts and will stand by their opinion. We understand that people that we bring into the company are the very fabric of the company's soul, which most of us refer to as culture.
So we deconstruct the traditional hiring paradigm by forgetting about skills and focusing on the person. We deconstruct the interview paradigm by not positioning ourselves as interviewers but as partners who are working together to find out whether or not this is indeed a good fit for all of us. We find out more about people when they get a chance to speak more honestly and when we truly hear what is being said. We forget about the labels and the brands that are pegged to resumes and we look at the intersection of values and goals. Those are the pillars for a solid and prosperous relationship. And that's what hiring is in the end: the beginning of a new relationship.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist