Welcome to the big show

February 16, 2013

The Palm

The method we use to interview candidates wastes company money and the time of everyone involved. Fly them across the country, parade them through every division office you can think of, and try to catch a glimpse of what their work style might be like. We are seriously fooling ourselves if we think a few well-designed standard questions will narrow down the candidate pool for skill level and for fit.

Dancers and actors try out for their parts, and as Chris Conzen suggested, “If you were hiring a chef, you’d have them cook.” So the next time you invite candidates to campus, why not put them to work?

The Joba CBS reality show, gives job-seekers a chance to “win” positions at prestigious companies while competing in a series of elimination challenges. Some people will say this show is exploiting the unemployed, but if you ask Jeff Lail or me, it’s the most logical job interview we’ve ever seen. Candidates are expected to answer trivia-style questions about the company, thrown into on-the-job tasks, and are forced to recall the names of each person with whom they worked.

In the last episode, the interviewer asked, “Why don’t I remember you?” Ouch. Sure it’s ego-bruising, but she had a point. If we’re going to ask questions, I think they’ve gotta be tough.

Even better than tough questions, the next candidate you invite to campus, throw them into the mix. Gauge how warm and accommodating they are– ask them to work the orientation check-in table. Have the candidate assist a student with her resume. Challenge them to facilitate a quick team-building activity during RA training. High stakes, low stakes, mix it up. But just ask yourself: Do I want them to tell me they can do the job or show me?

The Job airs on CBS, Fridays at 8pm EST. Thanks to Jeff Lail, Chris Conzen, Tim St. John, Amma Marfo for a great backchannel conversation. Same time next week?

[image source]

Jessa Carpenter
February 16, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

I love the ideas you suggested and, as someone hoping to be invited on campus soon for interviews, i would happily participate in those types of activities.

It would be so much more representative if fit and personality than the current structure!

    February 16, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    Thanks for reading, Jessa! Just your willingness to jump in and “get your hands dirty” is a step in the right direction.

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  • Ellen Hatfield
    February 22, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    The interview I had for my current job, was just like this. I had a traditional style interview with the staff and then jumped into a 10 minute presentation, a 10 min mock counseling appt, and I reviewed a résumé. As a candidate, I thought it was great to be able to show off my skills in addition to talking about them.

      February 22, 2013 @ 8:21 am

      Thanks for sharing your interview experience, Ellen! I think most of us would welcome the chance to really show off our skills. I don’t think it would be difficult to add some of the mock counseling/facilitation/supervision activities you mentioned above.

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