Musicians, actors, dancers, and many different performing artists do not spend a lot of time talking about how good they are at their craft before being hired; instead, they need to show it. Even the Beatles, arguably one of the best musical groups in modern history, had a selection process, better than many hiring processes today. How did their interviews work and what can it tell you about rethinking your hiring process?
Here’s how George Harrison was hired for the Beatles. While John Lennon thought George Harrison was too young to join the band, when he heard George’s perfect rendition of the guitar riff for Raunchy, a single American songwriter Bill Justise Jr. he invited him to join the group.
What did we learn?
The critical thing to note is that George’s display of skills eliminated any bias or reservations John had about George’s age. He had the skills that the Beatles needed. The rest, of course, is history.
Similarly, athletes in all sports can brag all they want about how good they are in their chosen sport. But the proof is in their play on the field, and most team sports have tryouts. Team managers and scouts don’t go over a resume, have a coffee together, and sign up the player. They review their statistics and how they play in real-time to make their selection.
Meanwhile, there’s the corporate world. Many companies hire candidates for roles based on a piece of paper and a few hours of meetings, often less than a few hours. They’re taking the candidate almost entirely at their word, except for checking a few references. On the flip side, aren’t the candidate’s doing the same thing? i.e., taking the employer entirely at their word? How can every employer be a great place to work? Isn’t everyone on their best behavior during the interview? It’s time to rethink the hiring process.
Standard Processes Warrant Standard Results
Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to ask candidates a series of questions based primarily on their resume (according to CareerBuilder, 62% of candidates lie on their resume). Whoever answers the questions best gets the job. More power to the smooth talker! This type of interview process is a complete crapshoot. As noted by Ron Friedman, a psychologist, and author of “The Best Place to Work.” “It’s because over 80% of people lie during interviews. That means the information you’re collecting in an interview is suspect at best.”
Some would argue that it’s challenging to ask candidates to show their work in a real-life scenario. It would extend the job interview and make it so burdensome for candidates to decide to opt-out of the process.
It’s Time to Rethink your Hiring Process
We’ve all heard of competency-based interviewing techniques or behavioral interviewing. Interview questions start with open-ended questions such as ‘tell me about a time when…’. While answers are more difficult to fudge, some candidates can be elaborate. Gifted storytellers with enough charisma to win interviewers over. Again, while more accurate than unstructured interviews, candidates are selected based on what they are saying and how well they say it, not what they do.
How do we reshape the hiring process?
If you recall being back in school, particularly in math class, it wasn’t just about writing down the answer. You needed to show your work. There are several ways candidates can show their work. Depending on the role and how easy it is to replicate realistic scenarios. It’s important to note that a more in-depth assessment of a candidate’s skills and fit for the role has advantages for both parties. Many candidates come to us as recruiters and a common reason for leaving. “The job just wasn’t what I expected.”
Reviewing skills in real-to-life scenarios gives the company the ability to evaluate the candidate’s skills in real-time. It also allows the candidate to experience the role and the company culture rather than relying on the job description. Here are three methods used by various companies to rethink the hiring process:
Show your work
There are plenty of testing platforms in the market these days. In many professions like software development, accounting, scientific, engineering, and some marketing roles, skill levels can be tested. Does the candidate have the required skills? See how a software developer QA’s a program or writes lines of code in a ‘dummy’ project. Similarly, how does an accountant post a particular entry? Testing on the direct skills required reduces the chances of selecting a great candidate at talking about their skills but doesn’t quite have the level of skill needed.
Audition interviews are getting more popular to help reduce the chance of a poor hiring decision. Auditioning is getting a candidate to demonstrate their skills in scenarios that best represent the tasks they will be required to complete on a day-to-day basis. Audition-style interviews help an employer assess a candidate’s competencies and give them a glimpse of their soft skills and how they handle the situations they are presented with. Audition-style interviews work best for jobs with a certain amount of ambiguity, such as sales, customer service, and management roles that require a lot of decision-making and interaction. There may not be a right or wrong answer in many cases with audition-style interviews, just an evaluation of how well the candidate problem solves or can reasonably adapt to the situation.
More and more companies favor hiring candidates on a contract basis, observing how the candidate does over a 3-to-6-month period and offering them a permanent role if all works out for both parties. Employment is a two-way street; both parties are evaluating one another. This period is a good time for both employer and employee to determine if they have made the right choice to work together. Hire-on-contract doesn’t always work for candidates who are looking for more stability in their careers.
Do these methods really work?
These methods, depending on the type of hire, will help assess the right candidate. While I don’t believe hiring will ever be a perfect process, the closer an employer gets to replicating the job’s realities and how the candidate performs in those scenarios is a great leap forward.