Why That New Hire Doesn’t Fit

January 13, 2015

You’ve been through the entire process to fill an open job spending 3 months reviewing hundreds of applications and conducting multiple interviews. You have found a good fit, made an offer and he’s accepted. Then, 3 months into it, it’s just not working out. The most promising potential employee who was perfect on paper with the right qualifications and experience did not work out. You can’t understand why because he had great interview skills and nailed every question thrown his way. Somewhere, the hiring process failed you. Most likely, it’s your interview process and the questions you asked.

The traditional interview process is easily gamed and weighted towards the applicant with the best interview skills, not the best candidate. In part because our subconscious puts weight on first appearances significantly affecting our choices. Research on the subject, including a famous experiment conducted by Nalin Ambady and Robert Rosenthal of Harvard in 1992, show that when we are exposed to 10 second clips of an interview we hold roughly the same opinion of the interview subject as the actual interviewer. These findings strongly suggest that we go by first appearances and that the additional information we gain in an extended interview almost doesn’t matter.

First impressions are important and there are many books covering the topic of trusting our first impressions. But, you still need to know if a candidate will be a good cultural fit within your company and not just good at the interview. One way to gain a better understanding of the applicant is to ask so called “wacky” or “oddball” interview questions. By going outside the typical job interview chit-chat you can get a sense of how applicants think or would respond in certain situations. Google has a multitude of famous examples. And, recently, many other companies have followed suit.

But don’t just ask those oddball questions to be clever. Make sure the question is in some way relevant to your company, what you do or what you’re looking for. JPMorgan Chase asks applicants how they would evaluate pi. (It’s thought to be instructive to see how many digits the candidate can recite.) Keep in mind that none of your oddball questions have right answers. The point is to help you understand how people react and think. But the questions should be rooted in your goals. If you ask an applicant how they would reengineer the traditional souffle, make sure that you’re looking for a food scientist and not an accounts payable coordinator.

Lastly, you should not completely ditch the list of traditional interview questions. It’s still important to hire someone with the right qualifications who presents well, shows initiative and demonstrates leadership. But, if they don’t fit culturally then they just don’t fit. Getting the applicant outside of their comfort zone with unexpected interview questions can help lead to hiring successes.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

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