A business leader recently interviewed several candidates for a customer-service position. All were capable, but the leader said none of them “wowed” him. He asked, “We need to ﬁll the role ASAP; what should we do?”
My mind was quickly moved back to a conversation I had with a former boss at Starbucks. He said, “The interview is as good as it gets.” That statement changed my perspective. When a candidate is tardy for the interview and says it was trafﬁc, weather or life, you can bet those same reasons will come up again when he/she is working for you. When a candidate has little energy in the interview, you can bet you will ﬁnd him/her shufﬂing through the day. When a candidate is an ace in the interview, the likelihood that this will continue is high.
You can train for the skills needed on the job, but you cannot train for traits or personality. Communication, integrity, drive, passion, teamwork, energy, etc., are on a continuum. When a candidate sends signals that he or she is on the lower end of the continuum on any of these skills, it will take energy, coaching and training to enhance the skill. Do you have the time?When you have a pressing hiring need, your perspective may get foggy, and you may make a quick decision. If you do this, have your eyes wide open and know that this may be a short-term solution and you need to continue to interview. You may believe you can change, ﬁx or engage the employee to exhibit the skills needed; this is a 50/50 proposition. If you have ever tried to do this in a relationship, you know, in the long term, it doesn’t work. You may be successful, or you may spend time with little results.
Recruiting is like dating and marriage. Think back – way back! On the ﬁrst date, you want everything to be perfect; you pick out your clothes, clean out your car and rehearse the answers to “tough” questions. Sound like an interview? Then you move toward the wedding, the “offer” and move in with each other. Then you have “the honeymoon” phase at work – you know, those are the times you say to yourself “I thought he/she knew how to …” Then you live with his/her characteristics “long term” or ultimately “divorce.” The long term is when reality sets in, when you realize he/she squeezes toothpaste from the middle of the tube or don’t have an interest in ﬂowers.So what’s the point? The interview is as good as it gets. Don’t hope the behavior will get better or excuse those characteristics that will be an issue later. Pay attention to the signals, and make hiring decisions with a clear understanding of the time and energy required to impact future behavior.