Hire People, Not Paper

Ongoing recruiting and successful interviewing are central to achieving our company objectives as we grow our businesses. Coaching my clients on this operational process is at the top of my priority list. Why? Because as we hire and bring new people into our organizations we need to make sure that we focus on the human element and not just résumés and skill test results.

Here’s what I mean. When interviewing an employee candidate you have a choice about your approach. You can interrogate them and spend time questioning them about their knowledge and actually administer detailed and sometimes “intimidating” tests. This is not to say that testing is not important, but you can further assure if they are qualified through a positive dialog and conversation centered on them—who they are and what they like to do. By doing this we can evaluate whether or not the candidate’s personality and other—perhaps non-technical—skills are a good match for the position. We can also determine if the candidate will thrive in the corporate culture or not.

The qualities we’re looking for are discovered subjectively during the interview by genuinely determining what really excites them about their work. You have to ask about it and remain silent and listen.

We had a substantiating experience in our company when we needed to hire an executive administrator for our president, who delegated hiring for this position to our HR department. I was asked to interview the candidates along with the HR director. Several people applied and two were selected for an interview.

During the interviews, the candidates were given some standard administrative assistant tests, including one that tested typing speed.

Following the interviews, I favored the candidate who was bright, positive, outgoing, and a good conversationalist, even though she had scored lower on the typing test than the other candidate. However, the HR department decided to hire the person who scored better on these tests, despite her being an introverted quiet person who didn’t seem very engaging.

After about a month of the president being unhappy with the new hire’s inability to create a positive environment in the executive offices and being unable to represent the president well with other employees and visitors, the assistant was terminated.

From that point forward we made sure we included in our interview and hiring process a component of giving the candidates a feeling that we were interested in them, their career, and their work goals—that we viewed the “human element” as integral to the company’s success. This ultimately led to a culture of a positive place to work and very low employee turnover rate. We made sure we evaluated and considered the person, not just the paper.

What’s been your experience in this important hiring and interviewing approach strategy?