Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Unlearning Interviewing Techniques to Score Top Talent

Yesterday we heard from Rick Crossland about how to spot a top performer in an interview. Today we’ll hear more from him, specifically about how managers sometimes look at the wrong attributes in their candidates.

Managers Often Look for the Wrong Attributes in Candidates

Oftentimes, managers are fooled by the wrong kinds of candidates.  The candidates that tend to most often fool managers are the flashy candidates or “showdogs.”  This is because these types of candidates typically have good emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) skills and also tend to be well dressed and articulate.  In an interview, they tend to woo hiring managers with buzzwords, industry jargon, name dropping, and strategic sounding talk.  In many cases, these candidates were simply overhead at very well-known companies.

But don’t let these candidates fool you with these saccharin sweet-nothings.  These are the candidates who talk a good game, but who do not produce results.  Their cooing will sound wonderful to you, but it’s just a siren’s song.  In about 18 to 24 months they will be repeating their speech at another unsuspecting company.

The key to identifying these types of candidates is to use the structured interview and behavior interview tools mentioned above.  In addition, develop a job scorecard with defined performance attribute metrics on all aspects of the role.  A sample format of this job scorecard can be obtained here.

Ask specific behavioral-based interview questions around the scorecards.  These will sound like “When you were the marketing manager at Atlas Corp., describe a time you improved the return on investment of your marketing actions.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?”  Or, “Describe a B- or C-Player you coached up to be an A-Player.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?”

As you have already most likely ascertained, the flashy, showdog candidate will not be able to hold up to this level of scrutiny.  He or she will mostly try the “royal we” to take credit for their teammates’ results—but cut through this smoke screen by asking them “What were your specific contribution and results.”

These types of flashy, showdog candidates appear impressive, but they are really not.  They are “big hat, no cattle.”  You are doing a disservice to your organization if you hire them.  That’s a kind way of saying that your teammates will curse you if you add these imposters to the team.

The above-mentioned tools will help you spot A-Players who may or may not have great interview skills, but who are able to produce real results.  While some folks have the whole package and wow you from answer one, other great candidates are a little shyer or humble.

Remember, if you want to be an A-Player manager or leader, you must have a team of A-Players. Therefore, being able to spot A-Players in an interview becomes an invaluable skill for you.

Rick Crossland is author of the book, The A Player. He works with organizations across the country to transform good companies into great companies.