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When hiring, cut through the useless questioning and make sure a canidates can actually do the job for which they applied, writes Nick Corcodilos. Photo by Altrendo Images/Getty Images.

Ask the Headhunter: If job interviews don’t work well, what’s the best way to hire?

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: I’m one of your readers who does the hiring (at least for now). As a former job seeker, it’s clear to me that the traditional “ask a question, give an answer” interview process just doesn’t work well. So how about it? Please cut to the chase. What’s the best way to hire?

Nick Corcodilos: Nice to have a question from an employer — and a pithy question at that.

As someone who has sat on the other side of that interview desk, you know the drill: Show up at the job interview, fold your hands, and get ready to answer the top 10 stupid interview questions.

  • What’s your greatest weakness?
  • If you could be any animal, what would it be?
  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? (I dunno — is your company going to be in business in five years?)

Any manager that runs an interview based on such claptrap has no business managing. I’m going to show you a method of hiring so simple that you’ll wonder why managers don’t just tell HR to take a nap while they take care of business themselves.

Introduce candidates to everyone

Well, maybe not everyone. Have job candidates meet your other employees in related functions.

For example, if you’re interviewing to fill a sales job, introduce the candidate to people who work in the shipping department and in product development. After all, a new hire’s work is going to affect lots of other folks — and the work product must flow from one function to the next.

Now is the best time for a candidate to meet other workers and talk shop. Can they work together? Do existing employees believe this newbie is going to improve the work flow or mess it up?

Have an audition. Can the candidate do the job?

I know few companies that actually assess whether a person can do the job. Oh, they do indirect assessments, like administer tests and check qualifications and references. Some even do “behavioral interviews,” in which the candidate explains how they handled a situation at some other company. (See “3 Anti-Behavioral Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates.”)

So here’s what to do. Pick the best candidates from your interviews and invite them back for an audition: Show us what you can do. If you can’t show us how you’d do the job, then we’re not hiring you.

Note to HR managers: It doesn’t matter whether candidates have great references. See whether they can do the job first. Don’t waste overhead time if they can’t.

Use the scarecrow method

When you notify candidates in advance that you want them to arrive ready to show how they’ll do the job, this has a special benefit. Such a direct assessment works like a scarecrow. It scares off turkeys who either aren’t motivated or who simply don’t know what it means to roll up their sleeves and work together. What a great way to save interviewing time and to avoid hiring people who don’t get it!

If a job candidate questions the wisdom of asking them to do the job, show them the door.

I’m sure this suggestion will rattle many job seekers. But, why would anyone who’s not prepared to demonstrate their skills ever apply for such a job?

Those are my suggestions for how to hire.

Dear Readers: I’m addressing managers here — How do you assess candidates before you hire them? Do you have a better way? Job seekers: How do you feel about this hiring approach?

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2018 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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