Dating, Buying, Recruiting

Originally Posted December 2012

CC Photo Credit

Since I last wrote, the Bronfman’s ideas presented in SWAY, continue to bubble away in my thinking.   First impressions are not always what they seem.

As a home owner and former first time home buyer, first impressions can be misleading.  Sure the kitchen needs to be updated. Avocado green and Harvest gold are so 1977.  Yes the closets are a little small and the roof is less than exemplary; but the floors are beautiful, there’s a jacuzzi tub on the deck, and it has great gardens!  Is this really the house for me or am I caught up in the moment? Am I looking at the right things or am I looking at only what I want to see?  Is my first impression correct?

Going on a first date is another experience where people can find themselves getting caught up in the moment.  It’s been a while since I’ve been on a first date, but I can remember finding myself having coffee, sharing a meal, taking a stroll and later wondering — Was there chemistry?  What kind of connection did we make?  I wonder if they like me?  Will I hear from them again?   Buying house and going on a first date are emotionally charged situations. People aren’t always at their best under these circumstances.

Dating and buying a home are a lot like recruiting. It’s easy to understand why home owners and people in search of a connection get caught up in the moment, but what is really interesting is why hiring managers, across all professions, including education, make the same mistakes.  According to the Bronfman’s, it is because recruiters simply don’t ask very good questions.

Here are a few of the most common interview questions.  Do any of them seem familiar?

Why are you interested in the position?
What do you offer this position?
What do you see yourself doing five years now?
What do you consider to be your greatest strength / weakness?
Tell me about a recent success / failure?
What subject did you like the best / least?
What do you know about our company / school?
Why did you decide to seek a job with our company / school?“

adapted from Sway

As someone who has experienced both sides of the table, I have asked and endured similar questions.  Semi-insightful and self-evaluative questions don’t really let anyone get or give a sense of the real candidate.  “They are taken from the Barbara Walters school of interviewing.” ( p. 81).  Likewise, “Why should I hire you?”, is too predictable.  Prepackaged questions elicit prepackaged responses.  They do not provide an accurate reflection of the true candidate.  Other questions turn candidates into historians or require them to gaze into the glass ball of the future.  Are these questions going to provide you with the best insight into an individual?

When hiring, principal’s can make the same mistakes as a home buyer and first dater … they focus on the wrong things — chemistry, connection, likability.  When recruiting, “we often base the image of the ideal candidate on ourselves.  Somebody comes in who’s similar to us, and we’re going to click; we’re probably going to want to hire them”. (p.86).

How do you ask the “right questions”?  Is staffing a collaborative decision making process?  Is the interview format structured, relaxed, or some sort of combination?  What types of questions do you pose?  Are candidates asked to demonstrate anything, like complete an IN BOX activity?  Skype is now an important tool for recruiting.  How often do you ask to watch a candidate’s lesson?  Or talk with their students about learning?

I find myself fascinated by the recruiting process.  What questions do you ask? How do you manage first impressions?