A company is only as successful as the people who work there, so hiring the right people is critical. Every manager, owner or human resources staffer has their ideas about finding the best person for the job. Is hiring employees a process-driven function, or is it more of a judgment call? A recent column by former Google HR executive answers this question and others.
The biggest takeaway was the argument that the effective hiring process is most effective when it is boring. He also cited some ridiculous questions unrelated to the job posed by actual hiring professionals as examples of counterproductive interview questions:
- Who’s your spirit animal?
- What’s the last costume you wore?
- What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
These are all funny and certainly not dull, but do you want to hire a product manager who needs advanced organizational skills because they dressed as a McDonald’s Happy Meal for Halloween? At best, they are conversation starters, but it is hard to rank applicants based on absurd questions backed by instinct. It is harder still to justify this rationale to serious candidates. While this all may sound silly, even less funny lines of questioning inform a decision based on instinct – an estimated 75% of hiring professionals hire based on their gut. The reason for this, the article argues, is that hiring people is boring.
Logic gets results
Humans’ instincts are not nearly as accurate as basing decisions on research and data. Determining the best candidate should actually include:
- Define job attributes: The interviewer should have a clear idea of the skill set needed for the specific position and then share that with the candidate. The interviewer should look at cognitive ability, leadership, cultural fit, and skills related to doing the job.
- Ask for a work sample: Writers should have writing samples, and designers should provide portfolios. But giving the candidate a task similar to the job description is often insightful.
- Ask behavioral questions: Ask for an example of a time where they solved a difficult problem using logic and advanced reasoning. This provides information regarding what they consider difficult and how they reacted in this real-world situation.
- Average scores and make a decision: The questions should be presented in the same format for each candidate with their responses scored by interviewers. The averaged scores are then used to assess the candidate. To avoid bias, look at the questions one at a time, and all the candidates score before moving on to the next question.
- Check to see if the process worked: Check up on the candidates to see how they perform. This information can further refine the process.
Boring is best
The most common reason why people take unusual approaches and questions is that the people interviewing candidates are bored by the process. They then turn to find ways to make the process more interesting, but in the long run, this may not suit the decision-making process and often can harm it. While the plan should be to hire the best candidate for the job, the hardest part for many seems to be remembering this.