We are hiring and I am busy interviewing candidates these days. Today I am reflecting on my own biases while hiring, let me start with my short-listing idiosyncrasies:
- Stability: I am a stickler for stability, people tell me stability is dead, hire for talent, but I believe that for mid to senior roles (where I participate) stability is key, as I think relatively stable tenures means people would be mature enough to give time to themselves and the organisation for the ups plus downs to perform over a period of time.
- Growth: I also like to see CVs which have demonstrated growth within their employers, we all know how difficult it is to grow within the company (look at the number of job-hops people make for growth), this has some overlap with stability sometimes, but I still see try to see this separately.
- Brands: I have mixed feelings over resumes which come from large companies compared to relatively smaller ones . I don’t reject CVs based on the brands people come from, if they come from unknown names, I rather make an effort to know about them
- Qualification: I don’t pay much attention to academic qualifications as I tend to believe that where & what you studied decades ago is immaterial for leadership roles
Now let me move on to the interviewing process… My first 5 minutes of interviewing tends to revolve around, if I am wasting my time or its worth investing more time with this person. I am told most of us make our decisions in those first few minutes, why first few minutes, it’s not like buying clothes or shoes which attract us instantaneously, we are judging people for god’s sake. But then we are human, our past images, experiences of people are acting consciously/sub consciously on our mind. Sometimes the voice, many a time’s the face, the dress (yes) and the first few sentences create numerous triggers from the past to create that first impression. Isn’t interviewing supposed to be an objective process leading to a rational hiring decision? I would like to believe it’s more biased in spite of many tools that people use to make their decisions.
After the first 5 minutes or so I spend time on validating my first impression. The first 5 minutes trigger lots of thoughts, if the triggers do not bring positive memories then the next 25 minutes is spent to ensure I have satisfied myself that I have not got carried away by my past or instinct. If the first impression is positive then I take about an hour to qualify the first impression. Sounds weird? Can’t agree more with you, I am sure all of you have your own patterns of interviewing people to decide on the key things which are a tick for your hiring.
These are the key things which influence me (call it bias)
- Independent Thinking : Many a times I meet people who say the right things after the first few minutes as they are smart and equipped with experience to know that people prefer to work with people whom they like; In these kinds of interfaces, we tend to sync with the person quickly. My preference is to explore the ability of the person to have their own point of view and independent thinking to execute.
- Energy: I tend to get carried away by people who light up the place with their exuberance. So it’s important to have a Red Bull before meeting me 🙂 My explanation for this: I have always worked for sales organisations, believed that energy is the key to connect and convert customers. Though this hasn’t been the sole criteria for selection, energetic people (not hyper) tend to leave an impression on me. I have regretted hiring Red Bull people too as their energy seemed only limited to interviews.
- Preparation : I love to talk to people who have done some pre-work about my company, the job, me(ego boost) before they meet me, I once met a lady who came from a popular online networking firm and asked for my background, it was so difficult for me to engage with her after that question. There are people whom I have met who claimed they came directly from work, had a busy week, so couldn’t find time to research about the job/company. I always wondered what were they doing there with me, it’s not a catch up with friend!
- Connect: The world of work has touches of contact sport where how we connect with people makes or breaks our career. So ability to connect for me is a critical component than the ones who tend to rant about themselves in an articulate manner. Many people I have met make brilliant intellectual statements , but fail to connect to the person sitting opposite to them, for me your ability to connect to your peer, reportee, customer, boss are all equally important and I tend to make my own evaluations around this factor.
- Dress: I don’t expect people to consult Manish Malhotra before meeting me, but expect people to dress neatly (not necessarily fashionably). Never selected or rejected people on dressing before but it does add up with the above when I choose for customer facing roles
Besides this I do have my favourite questions and also prefer not to intimidate people in the interaction as for me it’s about getting to know the other person and not an interrogation.
So now you know how subjective I am in my selection process, but do you believe hiring decisions are done as objectively as they are made to?
Its good not to jump into conclusions too early in an interview, but then my mind acts like a skipping rope.