Rethinking the hiring process: “Give candidates real opportunities to shine”

“How many grains of sand do you think you can find in the Barceloneta?” Thought-provoking of course, but the real question is: why would anyone ask such a thing during a recruiting interview?

Potential employers always start an interview by asking how your trip was and how the weather is outside is, thinking we will feel relaxed after these questions. However, we know them. We know their tricks. And they know ours. “I’m a multitasking person, and that could drive me to overwhelm myself with too much work”, always followed with a “however, teamwork is the solution”. And they will pretend it’s not the thousandth time they have listened to the same answer, and based on how confident I respond and the experience I have overstated in my CV, they will hire me.

Now that Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and relate to others, let’s take the advantage and change this traditional hiring process. Let’s stop making candidates sweat and give them real opportunities to shine. Make the process an experience where the candidate feels embraced by the company and desired instead of turning us into someone who is begging for an opportunity to step in.

The need to rethink strategies for hiring new employees has been accelerated. Job interviews are antiquated and stuck in the past, we keep hiring as we used to do it decades ago. The goal is to help the interviewers make better decisions and allow the candidates to show their strengths. Right now, none of them get a very real impression of the company or the potential employee. Adam Grant once said that faking is stretching the truth to enhance your image, and he was right, interviewers are not meeting the candidate, they are meeting their representative.

A first step would be identifying the skills and values that are essential to the job and the team. Building a set of questions or a psychometric test and repeating the process to all the candidates to compare the scores and responses would be a robotic way to punctuate the candidates and identify the good ones for the position. This structured interview would avoid one of the main problems of the traditional process, interviewer biases. It’s not surprising that interviewers make up their minds about whom they want to hire, and data says that under 90 seconds is enough to decide. During that time, the only thing happening is physical attractiveness. There is very little chance that anyone can show their skills in a minute-and-a-half. However, with a structured and fair first phase of the hiring process, that could be avoided.

‘Cultural fit’ is a modern-day trend that I love. This idea of matching people and personalities. When we look for a partner, we look for hobbies in common and personalities that match ours, which doesn’t mean they have to be the same but balance our own. Job-wise, it’s about boosting the productivity and profitability of the company, and enhancing the working environment. A pool of different personalities can fit with a company, but what would differentiate potential candidates from the ones who would be hired would be similarity in core values. After the structured interview, a good next step would be a psychometric test to evaluate the personality and skills of the candidate and match it to the brand and departments. Furthermore, match it with the team. At the end of the day, they will have to work, understand and get along with the person interviewed.

Gut feelings, trusting people, and believing in what we feel in front of the candidate or the interviewer, would be 40% of the process to me. Nonetheless, psychometric tests, real challenges, and situational interviews where the interview can demonstrate how good they can be for the position will be the other 60%. The first impression of the company to the candidate is the hiring process, including the interviewer and the conversation that would happen during this period. The match needs to be in both directions. The potential employee would be the one enriching the company and its culture, so make them feel welcomed and embraced.

Finally, recruiters should add to their must-have list candidates who are able learners. It’s okay to answer that “I don’t know how many fishes I can find from here to Bali”. In truth, if this honest answer is accompanied by motivation and the ability to learn, they are the candidates for you. Let them shine.

Written by Vicky Sanchez Acedo,  MBA Global Hospitality Management student at Les Roches.