A single person paired with three or four dates is a highly popular television show. A problem with this forum for dating is that finding a person willing to stick around after cameras stop rolling is nearly impossible. Even more unfeasible is finding a suitable mate within minutes using first impressions.
For me, these shows offer no entertainment value. What they do offer me, however, is the insight into people’s mentality and thought process. We live in the age of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. When applied to first impressions, however, time has shown that initial ones are unreliable. Millions of first dates never culminate into seconds. Calls go unreturned. Promises to keep in touch are broken. It’s the nature of the beast.
Well, that’s the problem with the hiring process too. Decisions based on initial interpretations can turn out to be costly and time-consuming for employers — and later, regretted.
For jobseekers, first impressions are based on the all-important resume and the initial interview. Securing an interview is indicative on how well a candidate looks on paper, and a job offer relies on how well the jobseeker, in part, relates to the person on the other side of the desk. Interviews typically lasts less than 30 minutes, and yet a hiring manager is expected to make a decision in such a little amount of time.
What’s a job candidate to do when the job-seeking game is flawed? The answer is simple: cheat. Now, now. I know what you’re thinking. You don’t need to lecture me on the morals of people in today’s society, and how they seem to be continuously bending to accommodate self-interests. Possibly, cheating is the wrong term to use here. Let’s say, it’s a matter of knowing the rules and stacking the odds into your favor by using inside techniques to win the “game.”
Jobseekers hire resume writers, career coaches, or seek out the career-counseling center at their college. Employers, on the other hand, rely on the use of tag-team or panel interviews to provide a collaborative approach to selecting a candidate.
In order to perform well for you and prove their ability to work for your company, jobseekers are forced to learn the rules of “your” game and modify their habits to accommodate such. Now don’t take my comments the wrong way. I’m a firm believer that jobseekers should contour themselves to meet employer needs. What concerns me, however, is that jobseekers are sometimes unfairly representing themselves to impress employers. Under the “I must impress” thought process, the job seeker gives answers you want to hear rather than the authentic ones they would prefer to say.
So what should you do?
Look for signs that the candidate is rehearsed. Respond by restructuring your questions to give the candidate some room to unwind, so forthcoming answers are thought out, honest, and less rehearsed. You want to know the real candidate, not the one who is putting on a cloak and dagger show.
Give candidates more than a two-minute look. You’re seeking long-term employees so properly reviewing and considering candidates will save time over the long haul. Ask a small list of pre-screening questions to the candidate, and don’t be afraid to ask unusual questions. How do you handle coworkers who spend too much time gabbing and little time working? Is there a particular type of personality that you conflict with? Or, a more practical question: what makes you so different from the 12 other candidates I’m considering with the same qualifications? Then, come up with a solid list of reasons to hire each finalist before making a final decision.
Look beyond performance. The candidate says and does all that’s expected, but in the end, is the wrong choice. Characteristics that fail to make the resume and almost never hit the cover letter is hunger and drive. A jobseeker with all the right education and work experience versus one without all the right stuff doesn’t make for a hands-down hire. The one lacking the right qualifications may actually be the better candidate. So, look beyond the obvious.
Take a lesson from elimi-date shows. Look below the surface to determine if the right candidate is hiding behind a less-than-perfect resume or doesn’t quite answer interview questions as you’d like. Going the extra mile might keep you from eliminating the candidate who would be the perfect match for your department.
Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and heads an executive resume-writing service
, Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer" "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book" and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."