Posted by: Joe Hoffman | October 7, 2009

The Art of the Hire Part VI Chemistry Test

The last stage of the candidate process is the most critical and typically the least effective for both the hiring company and the candidate.  Generally and traditionally,  a series of interviews are scheduled and each interviewer is going to try to assess:

  • The candidate’s knowledge, skills and special attributes
  • Their likely behavior on the job
  • Determine if they can work well with others at this company
  • Do they fit into the culture.

You have got be kidding me!  Who works at this firm?  Behavioral psychologists?  More likely, you have a popularity contest at work here.

The final 2 or 3 interviews should take place solely between the candidate, the hiring manager, a peer of the hiring manager and finally, the next level up in the organization with the sole purpose of determining if they like each other and that their personal hot buttons are covered.  That’s it!  A simple chemistry test.

Use the tools outlined earlier in this series, throw in a couple of brief phone interviews to confirm the KSAs, one or two pure technical interviews if needed and then the critical decision makers. No guesses or hopes at this point.  You know they can do the job, they behave the way you want, they fit the culture and as their boss, you can work comfortably with them.  Make an offer.  Now!

This is a quote from a Silicon Valley colleague:

“Now I’ve had an experience with a large (computer) storage company where I interviewed 5 times with at least 17 people, talk with the VP of the organization and have the hiring manager tell me I would get an offer by Weds(it was Monday). “

A pretty rough calculation would suggest the hiring firm involved spent at least $5,100 with this process.  (17 interviewers, one hour each at about $50 X 6*, the business impact for their time) On top of all  this,  he didn’t get the job.   That means they probably spent another $5,100 on the person they did hire plus some additional money for others in the process.

What is the point of all of this?  Businesses spend a lot of money on the hiring process.  If you are not a trained behavioral psychologist you are not trained to rely on a complex interview process.

Simplify it.  Identify the problem areas in your hire process, use the right tool  and bypass the beauty pageant.  You are only interested in the talent competition anyway.

* I use a multiplier of 6 to 10 to gauge the expected value or return on the annual loaded wage.  For example, a manager should have at least a six times improvement in the unit performance, either revenue generation, cost reduction or a combination.  If not, you have the wrong person or the you don’t need that position.


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