Are You Getting Outsmarted By A Candidate In The Interview?

by Joe Jones

Interview ProcessHave you ever wondered why that candidate that you thought was so perfect during the interview, answered every question perfect and then turned out to be a total dud?   Okay, maybe a little harsh, but I think we can all think of an instance where we said to ourselves, “This is not the person I hired, where did that person go that I liked so much during the interview process?”

This isn’t a new phenomenon in the world of hiring; for the longest time the traditional interview has been about “selling” yourself and presenting your skills in a way to influence the hiring manager sitting across the table.  Unfortunately, with all the resources at a candidate’s disposal, it has become increasingly hard for organizations to know who they really are hiring.

Take for instance a recent article I came across –Master the 5 Toughest Interview Questions”.  The article goes on to share a few of the interview questions that often trip up candidates.  It even says that these questions come straight from other Hiring Managers.

So the question then becomes, are you actually hiring a good job fit candidate,  with the skills and attributes necessary to be successful on the job?  Or, are you hiring a well-rehearsed interviewee that has “studied up” to ace the all too common line of questioning in today’s interviews?

I know that this really doesn’t surprise most of you, but it is amazing how many books, seminars, articles, and blogs there are out there to help candidates present themselves in a certain manner to get a job (some may refer to it as acting).  

Here is a quick example, check out Google’s search results for “how to answer interview questions”. You will come up with pages upon pages of matches that include very popular news and career websites.  That is just one basic search of free resources, and there are many more paid services to aid candidates.

The next question then becomes - How can the playing field be leveled between hiring managers and these candidates?  

Below are some ideas to combine with your traditional interview techniques to create a very effective process.

  • Benchmark the position.  A customized job benchmark helps create data points to objectively analyze a candidate’s level of job fit and limit emotion as part of the process.
  •  Utilize validated job-matching assessments like the TriMetrix® HD during the interview process to help provide clarity surrounding the candidates Behaviors, Motivators, Acumen and Competencies. This will also help in providing the interviewer additional information to ask very pointed, customized questions and follow-up on a candidate’s answers to certain questions.
  • Ask unique questions that are pertinent to the job and the overall culture of the organization.  For example, I had a client that was hiring a manager and the candidate’s assessment indicated he was not a “pusher.” I then asked the question, “How will you handle a situation in which your people are not performing?”   Using the assessment, I was able to tailor a question to a challenge that may occur due to his personality style.  The 5 questions referenced on Yahoo, are pretty good questions, however if someone is given time to rehearse the answers they become far less meaningful in the interview process.

Do not let a great "acting" candidate take advantage of you during the interview.  Use the above advice to avoid hiring a person who does not fit the job. 

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