Interviews are terrible vessels for people to get to know each other truthfully. Everyone is putting on a show. To make a terrible analogy, consider dating. People are at their best, hiding their flaws and playing up their strengths, flirting with lying and omission in order to control the perception of the other. Interviews share a lot of this.
The opposition between the interviewer and interviewee makes it so that both parties are trying to sell to each other. The interviewer sells the idea that working in that organization is a dream while the interviewee sells the idea that they are the perfect match for that position. It’s pretty ludicrous when you think about it. Rather than have an open and honest dialogue about the organization, the candidate and the fit or unfit, interviewers to flaunt about how great the organization is in, rejoicing in the schadenfreude experienced by the candidates who so desperately want to make it through and be accepted by the all-powerful interviewer. It boils down to power-tripping that adds very little value to a meticulous selection process.
That’s why I try to deconstruct this framework. Hiring is not about us evaluating candidates. It’s about trying to establish whether or not fundamentally there is a cultural and behavioral fit. We will also consider past experience and skills but as secondary to the decision making the process. The primary driver is the fit and both the candidate and the interviewer are discovering together whether the fit is there or not.
Even though it’s straight-forward, deconstructing the current paradigm is not easy given how ingrained it is in our thought-process. Deconstruction is a multi-pronged process and it involves the following elements:
1. Get out of the Evaluator chair. You are no different, no better than the person you are interviewing. Be normal, be human and make others feel comfortable. This gives people the chance to disarm and to forget about having to prove themselves. Having the chance to see people in their natural state is the greatest revelation you can attain from an interview. No one I know can work in interview mode all the time. It’s not sustainable. Work is stressful and the hours are long. That’s why we want an interview process that leads us to find people who feel naturally comfortable in our culture.
2. Focus on the behavioral aspects. We tend to be very impressed with big names and big titles on people’s resumes. But we are not hiring their education nor their work experience. We are hiring a person. And that’s what we want to get to know. How do they react when feeling examined? How do they feel when we are smiling? How do they feel about being confronted? How do they deal with pressure? And you don’t find out these behavioral trends from asking about them. You find out about these things by getting to know a candidate. Go beyond your own biases and use your senses.
3. I strongly advise candidates not to work with us. Why should we try to pretend that it’s great working here? It’s not. It’s work. Most people would not choose to work here if they had 50 billion dollars in the bank. That’s just a fact of life. We don’t want people choosing us for the wrong reasons. Paying bills, needing a job, wanting to advance a career. Those are all legitimate pursuits that most of us share. But we want to hire people based on the deeper motivational drivers. We want to find people who want to be a part of something bigger than their own selves, who do not mind getting into constructive conflicts and will stand by their opinion. We understand that people that we bring into the company are the very fabric of the company’s soul, which most of us refer to as culture.
So we deconstruct the traditional hiring paradigm by forgetting about skills and focusing on the person. We deconstruct the interview paradigm by not positioning ourselves as interviewers but as partners who are working together to find out whether or not this is indeed a good fit for all of us. We find out more about people when they get a chance to speak more honestly and when we truly hear what is being said. We forget about the labels and the brands that are pegged to resumes and we look at the intersection of values and goals. Those are the pillars for a solid and prosperous relationship. And that’s what hiring is in the end. A relationship.
About the Author
Gabriel Fairman, Founder and CEO of BureauWorks, has been working on transforming localization business processes into technology over the past 15 years. Over the past 5 years he has focused on developing algorithms that make sense of bigger data patterns in order to predict translator performance based on data obtained through peer reviews. The challenge on building AI towards that end is that translations can be great and still be significantly changed by reviewers. As changes are for the most pasty subjective, there is no direct correlation that can be established to easily determine the quality of translations based on simple data sets. The challenge requires digging deeper into more complex correlations that allow translation quality to be managed through algorithms that can reliably pair the right linguists to any given document. Gabriel’s focus is to think systemically as opposed to through a causality framework in order to solve these harder problems through AI.