One piece of feedback that we hear from candidates is that they find portions of the screening, interviewing and decision-making process to be confusing, illogical and frustrating. Questions that we hear are:
When faced with these questions, we counsel our candidates to put themselves in the shoes of the hiring manager and analyze the process from their perspective. This begins by appreciating the challenge that these managers face, which is to answer the question:
Given the available talent, which ONE individual brings the most to the table and offers the best prospect for a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with my organization?
One must also appreciate that the hiring manager—while handling their own responsibilities—must answer this question in a short timeframe using a multitude of criteria. These extend well beyond whether or not the candidate possesses the technical skills and experience required to do the job. These criteria consist of, but are not limited to:
How well is this candidate prepared to perform the responsibilities of the job?
How well will this candidate fit with us?
What “soft skills” and personal qualities does this candidate possess that will help them be successful in this and future roles?
Does this candidate possess the character desired by my organization?
How will this candidate serve, and be perceived by, my company’s customers, employees, partners, and suppliers?
You’ll notice that most of these criteria can be difficult to assess without the benefit of getting to know someone over time. This highlights the true challenge of the hiring manager—to assess all of these criteria, in a short period of time, with the benefit of only a few brief interactions with each candidate. This also highlights the reason that the interview process can include some interesting questions and exercises—because they have been specifically designed to draw out information that will allow the interviewer to evaluate the candidate against these criteria.
So the next time you find yourself questioning the need for that fourth interview with a six-person panel, or wondering why you’ve been posed a question by a hiring manager that seems a bit off-the-wall, put yourself in their shoes. Remind yourself that they have a great deal riding on their decision, and try to determine which of these criteria they are attempting to evaluate. By appreciating the challenge they’re faced with, and understanding the lens through which they’re evaluating candidates, you will be able to better prepare for the interview process, which will in turn reduce confusion, frustration and stress.