The Candidate from Four Different Angles

Whatever amount of time you have to spend on an interview, use it to explore these four key categories: work experience, education, activities and interests and self-assessment.  This approach will help you collect the data you need to make more effective hiring decisions.  The idea is to take a series of snapshots, from different angles, of a candidate’s background.

First, take a picture of them from the perspective of their job history.  As they discuss their experience (from their earliest jobs to their most recent), look for consistent patterns of behavior that illustrate the qualities you want: maturity, positive attitudes, how well they work under pressure, flexibility, dependability, time management skills.  Be alert to anything that emerges that provides evidence of the desired traits.

Then shift the camera to take a picture from another vantage point: educational background.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that mere academic achievement is enough.  You may ask about grades, but they are only one small piece of the puzzle.  Find out what’s behind those grades to make judgments.  Use the candidate’s educational background as an excuse to learn about them as a person, and look once again for patterns of behavior that illustrate the qualities you’ve identified as being necessary for success in the position.

Next, take pictures from a third angle: activities and interests.  How do they choose to spend their time outside of work?  Don’t poke into their personal lives, but to give them an opportunity to mention those things that transcend formal work and education and would help add a dimension to your understanding of them.  Often subtleties in a candidate’s outside interests can help correct or corroborate insights that have been gained earlier.  For example, they may reveal something about their leadership skills that you might have been concerned about earlier.

Finally, point the camera in a fourth direction: take a snapshot of how they see themselves.  What do they perceive to be their strengths and what areas would they like to improve or develop?

From these multiple vantage points, you’ll be able to form a kind of hologram of a candidate – a picture that will be dramatically more accurate at predicting how somebody’s going to behave in the future on a job than if you limit the interview to a conventional reviewing of their resume.  While material on the resume is important, on its own it is insufficient to give you a comprehensive picture of the candidate.


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