I'm going to let you in to three TOP SECRET rules for getting hired. These are the hidden techniques used by TOP interviewers…
Never Tell The Candidates The Rules Of Success
I read an infuriating blog post recently: "If someone doesn't send a thank you email, don't hire them".
This is a great way to limit your talent pool. Personally, I've been hiring for a dozen years, and I've never received a thank-you email. So we can already show there is a cultural disparity here.
Did you tell the candidates that they needed to send a sycophantic email to succeed? If not, why not? Is it any different to telling them what the dress-code is? Or that they need to prepare a presentation for the interview?
Perhaps there are some things that you think everyone should just intuit? What biases and assumptions are you making about the people you want to hire?
If you have hidden rules for getting a job, you're deliberately ignoring candidates who don't share the same cultural background as you.
Make Up Justifications For Not Hiring People
These are all things I've heard interviewers say about their "unique" and "quirky" interview techniques.
- "Whenever I interview someone, I always mispronounce their name. I like to see how they react to that."
- "When interviewing, I go for lunch with the candidate. I ask the waiter to subtly get their order wrong. A great test of the interviewee's character!"
- "We always leave candidates waiting half an hour before calling them in. How do they cope with delays?"
OMG! No! Let's ignore the rudeness (and potential poisoning of someone on company time). Here's the problem with these "tests".
You haven't set the success criteria. Do you want the candidate to be deferential? To be confrontational? Do you want women to laugh it off, but men to silently seethe? What's the correct response.
Most often, the interviewer just wants a power trip. And because they didn't set the rules of the game in advance, they get to make arbitrary decisions. They hire the person they like best and then make up a post-hoc justification based on the candidates' reactions.
Side bar - names
If you mispronounce a name, you're immediately telling the candidate that people with their cultural background are rarely hired, or spoken about, in this company.
Why would people want to work in such a homogeneous culture? Why would they want to work for someone who couldn't even be bothered to search the web for "How to pronounce Nguyen"?
Be Inconsistent In Your Questions
A few years ago I went for a job I thought I was well qualified for. I didn't get it, so I politely asked for feedback.
"The whole team thought you were great. You were probably the strongest candidate overall, but we were looking for someone with experience in XYZ."
I paused for a moment. They continued. "So we hired someone with 6 months experience, because we needed to hit the ground running."
"Actually," I countered, "I have two years experience in XYZ and have taught several training courses on it."
"Oh!" They said shocked, "You never mentioned that."
"That's because you didn't ask me any questions about it!"
Now, maybe that's my fault for not guessing their secret desires (it isn't). Or perhaps I should have read the job spec more closely (it wasn't on there). Or maybe they could have asked the same questions to all candidates (they didn't).
It's tempting to treat job interviews as casual conversations and have a meandering and natural chat.
Don't do that. A job interview is a structured process designed to let you consistently evaluate multiple candidates. If you are asking each candidate different questions, that's not a fair test.
A job interview isn't a set of trick questions. You're working collaboratively to see if you can work in the future - not trying to prove your intellectual dominance. It shouldn't be a test to see if they've read the same interviewing books as you.
You aren't doing the candidate a favour by interviewing them. If you select for deference, don't be surprised if you only get obsequious underlings.
There's no point hiring on "cultural fit". If your culture isn't strong enough to handle a little change, or challenge, then it simply isn't sustainable.
What other people think
It's not just me who finds these hidden rules annoying!
Ha - me too Angharad - generally answer to anything - including my alter ego Stan!
— Siân Thomas (@drsiant) April 6, 2019
I hadn’t thought about it until now but I realise that when hiring we approach it with a mindset of “trying to find a great person to help us”, not “offering someone an opportunity”.
— Uncle Bongo (@timhobbs) April 7, 2019
The good manners to not clog up people's inboxes with useless emails, perhaps
— James Wood (@laMudri) April 7, 2019
My first act after the interview was the contact the head of design and say thanks but no thanks, and here's why. He convinced me to come back, so I did. Same dude was there, same attitude, slightly toned down. I didn't give feedback this time, just a firm no.
— 𝔹𝔼𝔼ℝ𝔼 🍇 (@render_ghost) April 6, 2019
Look, if they don't know to send thank you notes then they certainly won't know when to use a fish knife or which wine to serve with foie gras. They might even accidentally make eye contact with one of their superiors. You mustn't hire them, darling. It simply isn't done! https://t.co/tzJHHnBRcw
— Laura Klein (@lauraklein) April 7, 2019
Do you have any interview gotchas that you hate? Let me know in the comments!