The job candidate selection process is a fail. Try this.

The job candidate selection process does not work. Even Google has taken back their famed clever interview questions. There is just no data to support that the job candidate selection process is effective at screening for success or at predicting that candidates will remain with the company.

A few years ago I worked with a large, successful engineering firm (it might have been the largest in the country at the time) that had a unique way of selecting and hiring candidates.

The owner of the company told me that their approach was based on two observations:

  1. There is no telling from a job interview, or a series of interviews, whether a candidate will be good at the job, be happy in the company, and will remain for longer than x years. And, if as a company these three criteria (or any other you identify) are important to you, then job interviews are useless and a random process is just as good.
  2. Nor can you tell whether we will want a a person to remain in the company once we get to know the person and the person gets to know us.

The process

So the process they established was as follows:

  1. Identify a series of criteria that any candidate should meet. Because no criterion has proven to be predictive then pick the ones you think/feel might work;
  2. Once you have received applications, pick out the ones that meet all criteria;
  3. From those who meet all criteria, pick one randomly.

The interview

Then the owner would invite the candidate for a chat in which he would explain to the candidate what type of work they do at the firm, how they work,  and what type of values they try and uphold. The owner would then ask the candidate if they can see themselves working in such an environment. If the answer is yes, the person was hired under the following terms: You are hired for six months with full benefits.

After six months

At the end of the six months you and I will meet again and you will tell us whether

  • What we told about the type of work they do at the firm, how they work,  and what type of values they try and uphold is true; and
  • You can see yourself working here permanently.

And we will tell you

  • How well you did during the six months: your work, how you work, and how you understood and embodied the values we try and uphold based on surveys and interviews with your manager, the co-workers on your team, the peers you interface with, and (when applicable) the customers you interface with;
  • Whether we want you to stay and, if yes,
    • We will be discussing the type of projects you would like to work on in the future; and
    • Offer you a permanent position.

The added benefit

Imperfect and incomplete as it is, based on its premise of nothing being predictive of anything in matters of hiring, it is as good as any other process I am familiar with.

And I just read in the FT that it also a great way to boost diversity.


See also: How IBM does it, Writing a good (emotionally-intelligent) job posting helps, and there’s always the Monthy Python way.

 

 

 

A calling, a lifetime dedication to an audacious project, and the interview question

Towering above the nearby blocks in the Eixample district of Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is unmistakable for its colossal scale and its convention-defying architecture.

Looking like a Gothic cathedral seen through a surreal fairytale filter, this is the most audacious project of the influential Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). More than 135 years after construction began and long after Gaudí’s death it is quite visibly still a work in progress.

Stone Cut is a brief profile of the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who, for 40 years, has made finishing Gaudí’s would-be masterpiece his life’s work. “I was awakened by a piece of stone.”

This last sentence is intriguing.

I say we don’t really know who someone is until we know their story; until we know what brought them here.

Come to think of it, that might be the best way to start a job interview.

Not unlike what doctors and lawyers do:

So, tell us, what brings you here today?

 

See also

Post-covid19 job interview

Questions and their purpose

 

 

 

 

 

No need for testing. You CAN interview for emotional intelligence

Last week I was facilitating a People and Business Management workshop with managers from all over the U.S. and a question came up about whether personality instruments might be useful in the hiring process.

As luck would have it, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that addresses this very issue. Here’s the author’s answer:

Don’t:

  • Use personality tests as a proxy for EI. Most of these tests attempt to measure what they say they do: personality. They do not measure specific competencies of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, positive outlook, achievement orientation, empathy, or inspirational leadership.

  • Use a self-report test. There are two reasons these don’t work. First, if a person is not self-aware, how can he possibly assess his own emotional intelligence? And if he is self-aware, and knows what he’s missing, is he really going to tell the truth when trying to get a job?

  • Use a 360-degree feedback instrument, even if it is valid and even if it measures EI competencies, like the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) does. A tool like 360-degree feedback ought to be used for development, not evaluation. When these instruments are used to evaluate, people game them by carefully selecting the respondents, and even prepping them on how to score.

A unique job post: reflects the culture of the work environment, written by a colleague rather than HR

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

We do a mix of quick hit investigative work when events call for it and mini-projects that might run for a few days. But every year we like to put together a project way too ambitious for a paper our size because we dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: “I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.” As many of you already know, those kinds of projects can be hellish, soul-sucking, doubt-inducing affairs. But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

Send questions, or a resume/cover letter/links to clips to my email address below. If you already have your dream job, please pass this along to someone whose skills you covet. Thanks.

via a few tasteful snaps.

Why I can’t stand Charlie Rose

In the words of Mark Twain:

[He] never seems to reflect that the wise thing to do, after he has turned on this and that and the other tap, by a multitude of questions, till he has found one that flows freely and with interest, would be to confine himself to that one, and make the best of it, and throw away the emptyings he had secured before. He doesn’t think of that.

He is sure to shut off that stream with a question about some other matter; and straightway his one poor little chance of getting something worth the trouble of carrying home is gone, and gone for good.

It would have been better to stick to the thing his man was interested in talking about, but you would never be able to make him understand that.

He doesn’t know when you are delivering metal from when you are shoveling out slag, he can’t tell dirt from ducats; it’s all one to him, he puts in everything you say; then he sees, himself, that it is but green stuff and wasn’t worth saying, so he tries to mend it by putting in something of his own which he thinks is ripe, but in fact is rotten.

True, he means well, but so does the cyclone.

via PBS.

Appropriate interview questions

The guiding principal behind any question to a job applicant is: “Can the employer demonstrate a legitimate job- related or business necessity for asking the question?” Both the intent behind the question and how the information is to be used by the employer are important for determining whether a question is an appropriate pre-employment inquiry.

See a list of questions at Interview Questions – Appropriate or Inappropriate?

Questions and their purpose

Each communicative act should have a purpose. In interviews, in meetings or in everyday conversation, what is the purpose of the questions you ask?

Here are some questions and their corresponding purposes:

1. Are you saying…?
Identifies someone’s language patterns.

2. Are you willing to…?
Tests someone’s limits.

3. Can you give me…?
Encourages examples and specifics.

4. Can you remember…?
Taps into someone’s memory.

5. Did you ask…?
Questions someone’s questions.

6. Have you considered…?
Non-threatening proposal of options.

7. Have you given any thought to…?
Suggestive, yet doesn’t sound like advice.

8. Have you thought about…?
Forces someone to think!

9. How are you constantly…?
Promotes consistency of action.

10. How are you creating…?
Proves that someone has a choice.

11. How can you become…?
Future oriented, motivational.

12. How can you make…?
Enlists someone’s creativity.

13. How could you have…?
Focused on past performance improvement.

There are 63 questions and why they work here.

Google interview questions

Here are just a few:

  • How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  • You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  • How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
  • How would you find out if a machine’s stack grows up or down in memory?
  • Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  • How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?

More questions here.1

Related posts:

Interviewing with IBM

70/20/10 – Managing innovation the Google way

How to run a meeting like Google

 

  1. Link updated 201009 []