The Interview Process

I’ve found myself in need of qualified employees working in my organization multiple times in my life.  I’ve been in need of book keepers, bartenders and technical professionals.  In each case, my primary goal was to find the very best individual for the job.  Some of those decisions required that the individual selected be able to hit the ground running.  In other cases I wanted someone who the organization could train and mentor into a high performer.  In short, I was looking for specific skills and skill levels.

Further, in each case, it was critical that I was “right”.  The cost of being wrong is very very high.

I certainly am not alone in this challenge.  Employers everywhere face the same struggle each and every time they post a position.  It is crucial, critical, that the very best candidate be identified and selected.  Anything short of that is detrimental to the organization and to the team.

It’s because of this that we down select at each step.

First, certain companies collect and rank resumes.  Key words, years of experience or certifications are looked for and analyzed.  After that, the resumes are often given to committees in HR departments for further scrutiny.  References are called and degrees are validated.  The list gets shorter still.  Shorter until finally, a list is presented to the interviewer so that he or she can gather each candidate and speak to them face to face.

And here it gets interesting.

The art of interviewing is to tickle out information through the use of non related questions.  Sure, the obvious queries of qualification and experience are mandatory.  But it’s the ability to quantify that….that….that je ne sais quo.  That quality that resides in the very best of us.  THAT is the goal of the interview.

This is why such questions are asked:

If you could be any animal on a carousel what would you pick and why?

Could there be a question as unrelated to the job at hand as this?

It is in search of THAT aspect of human nature that employers look to obtain information that is useful in determining that quality of character.  It is crucial.

And this is why corporations apply another question to their bank of questions.

Are you unemployed?

Given two equally qualified candidates, both having lost their primary means of income in the last 2-20 months, which do you think would deliver best for your organization.  The individual that went out and took 2-3 jobs that still didn’t match their previous compensation or the individual that, well, didn’t?

Companies are free not to hire folks that don’t have degrees.  Companies are free not to hire folks who don’t have ENGINEERING degrees.  Hell, companies are free not to hire folks who don’t have GPA’s exceeding 3.9 in engineering from specific schools.

Preventing them from asking this question would be just as silly as preventing them from asking for a GPA.  Or job history.  Or references.  And would just as surely depress job growth.

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