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Hands-on interview means profitable hiring

December 21, 2012

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

The typical, traditional interview and hiring process wastes time and often results in poor hires. And that results in unnecessary costs. The author of books on interviewing recommends a more effective approach to job candidates.

The traditional job interview moves along with questions like these:

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Tell me about your weaknesses and your strengths.”

“What have you done that you wish you could do differently?”

But the answers to these typical interview questions really don’t help you find out if a job candidate can do the job you need done. “There is absolutely no correlation between how well a candidate interviews and how well he performs on the job,” insisted Nick Corcodilos. He wrote The New Interview Instruction Book and Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job.

“Employers and candidates tend to get lost in the formalities of a job interview,” said Corcodilos, who was a consultant and “headhunter” for employers like AT&T, Nike, Mobil Oil, Delta Airlines, Microsoft, and Marriott International. Corcodilos also has hosted a popular online job discussion forum called Ask the Headhunter.

Job candidates can charm and impress you with professionally prepared resumes, carefully chosen lists of references and smooth, prepared answers to a standard interview. But a job isn’t about interviewing and writing resumes. That’s Corcodilos’ position.

“Reinvent how you do your interviewing,” advised Corcodilos. “An interview should be a hands-on, at-work meeting between an employer who needs to get a job done and a worker who is fully prepared to do the job during the interview.” So, what has Corcodilos suggested?

  1. Prepare your candidates. Give them a list of the problems and challenges you face. Encourage them to learn all they can about your business or organization and to come to the interview ready to show you how they work — prepared to present their strategies and solutions.
  2. Prepare yourself. Structure a day’s work for the person you think you need to hire — real tasks. Pick two or three that are the main part of the job, tasks that will make a material difference to your business. Then at the interview, give them the tasks, live problems to solve. Let them demonstrate that they can do the job, and that they can ride a fast learning curve without falling off.

Start with a one-on-one session between the candidate and working manager. Then, open it up into a group interview, including staff and managers with whom the candidate would work if hired.

Does this new interview and selection technique work for blue-collar workers? “Sure,” said Corcodilos. “Have them work with someone out on a job as part of the interview, to see how they work and how they learn.”

The payoff for your new job-focused interviewing style? According to Corcodilos, the payoff is employees who get more successful work done for more profit, and with less turnover.

A word about having job applicants demonstrate their abilities during the interview and hiring process: Under wage and hour laws, any work of value an applicant does for an employer is compensable. The applicant, while performing such work, must be paid at least minimum wage for the time worked.

So, how do you have applicants demonstrate their ability to perform the major duties of a job without having to pay them? Spend some time in advance and prepare job simulations. In effect, this has applicants perform job tasks in job simulations that demonstrate their abilities without doing productive work of value to the employer.

Another legally safe way to have your best applicants demonstrate their ability to perform the job they are applying for is to hire them, one-by-one, for a few hours or for a day through a staffing service.

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