Upgrade your hiring process

Written by Chris West

A typical job interview is little more than a social call with some predictable choreography. A conference-room meeting, a pristine résumé, and the standard questions: Where do you want to be in five years? What do you consider your biggest failure? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Add in some small talk — maybe the candidate and the interviewer have something in common an acquaintance from an earlier job — and that’s largely it. The candidate seems good, and the references check out. So an offer is made, and fingers are crossed that everything works out.

Then, a month later, the new hire misses an important deadline or starts complaining about the work. Cue that sinking feeling: You start wondering if hiring this person was a mistake.

We found a different way that seemed more effective:

  1. Get Away From Your Desk

You’ll have a much better sense of your candidate if you get them out from behind a desk and watch how they behave.

The Goal

As you’re sizing up job candidates, there are two key qualities to check for:

  • Is the person genuinely interested in the work of the organization?
  • Do they treat people as equals, regardless of their title?

If you take them out of the office or conference room to see how they interact with others, you’ll get a better sense of their personality.

Take Them On a Tour

Stay in the building and show the candidates around your company, and maybe introduce them to some colleagues. Things to pay attention to:

  • Are they asking questions about what everybody does and how things work?
  • Are they curious?
  • Do they treat everyone they meet with respect, and show interest in what they do?

Share A Meal

Take a candidate out for lunch or dinner. Going to a restaurant will reveal all sorts of clues about someone. For many leaders, this is the most important part of the interview process.

The key is to watch whether the candidate is considerate of others — an essential quality of effective team players.


Things to pay attention to:

  • Are they polite to everyone who is serving them?
  • Do they look people in the eye (a sign of respect)?
  • Are they irritated or flustered by problems?
  • Can they keep a conversation going, with smart questions?
  • Do they barrel through the restaurant, or let others go first?

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