When you read about hiring in companies you often hear the old adage “Hire slow, fire fast” or “A hiring mistake costs you 18 months”. What I have never heard is how detrimental a non-standard, poorly thought out hiring practice can be on morale.

Case in point: I was speaking with a colleague the other day about an interview loop that he went through and how disappointed he was. He wasn’t disappointed by the outcome (not getting the role), he was disappointed with the process; specifically the 1/2 an interview that he was granted to compete for the role. He left that short interview feeling that the company did not take his candidacy seriously. The disappointment lead to resentment and eventually, his leaving the company.

Unfortunately, it is not the first time I have heard about this happening. In fact, I have heard about it happening an alarming number of times, for a range of reasons;

    • The hiring manager is predisposed to a candidate.
    • The hiring manager believes that they can select candidates with only one interview due to their superhuman ‘intuition’ (Never the case).
    • There is a belief that you must have an external candidate, for reasons such as industry knowledge.

In all cases, internal candidates are left wondering – why didn’t I get a shot at that job? If I am getting good reviews, why is this person better than me? And ultimately, they make it harder for the new hire as that person will face some form of resentment from the disillusioned.

Keeping this in mind, I try to adhere to this form of transparent hiring process to ensure equity and most importantly – a strong competition for the role so that the best candidate wins:

  • All roles are posted for a minimum of one week. Everyone sees what is going on.
  • All internal applicants must have approval from their current manager to apply for a job. This seems like common sense, but I am always surprised by how often this rule needs to be enforced – with candidate managers being surprised. I often find myself wondering about the quality of a manager who does not know that their employee is seeking an internal role elsewhere.
  • Every qualified candidate requires a minimum of 2 interviews to ensure that a single person’s opinion is not disqualifying a candidate.
  • Senior hiring cycles should go through multiple phases. The first 2 interviews to create a short list with a second stage of 3-5 additional interviews to complete selection. This accomplishes three things: It provides a wide range of input, builds support for the individual in the new role with key stakeholders and puts in place enough rigour to improve the odds of selecting the best candidate.
  • Internal candidates get special attention to their interview cycles to ensure equity with a few key guidelines:
    • If their manager supports their pursuing the role and their performance/ratings/ tenure support their pursuit of the role then they must get the 2 interview cycle.
    • Regardless of outcome, all internal candidates must get a debrief on why they did not get the role so that they can understand what has happened and be equipped with points that can contribute to their long term development.
    • If the candidate’s current manager knows that the individual is not ready for the role but sees benefit in putting the candidate through the cycle, then it should be completed. I have seen this done a number of times and it is an effective development opportunity. For example: A candidate may only be in current role for 1 year but anxious for the next role. By running through the interview process and getting feedback on what they need to work on, from someone other than their current manager, it can provide a level set and great insight into where they need to develop for the long term.
  • Where possible, interviewing managers should be provided with as much insight as possible prior to the interview: CV and other data points, such as the Predictive Index and in the case of internals; previous reviews.

The end result should be that those who are not selected get feedback that they can action and while they will probably be disappointed at not getting the role, they cannot question the process and the fact that they had a fair shot at winning.

Morale is protected and the best candidate wins.


 Another great side bar article in Men’s Health (Sept 2006) was called ‘Land a better job’. The lines of questioning are often predictable in job interviews, but these a couple good ones. I blog them for future reference.

Q: Why should we hire you?   I produce results, and I have strong analytical skills and good initiative. Wouldn’t you like to work with a manager with 3 years experience in this position who’s a breeze to get along with?

Like that answer, and like how you can build on it (adding, ‘who gets things done’, add in a few examples). I remember in my last job interview (current role), the hiring manager was tough on me, and he was my last interview when I first came to the company. In my interview with him the first time around, he said to me ‘Are you the kind of guy who get’s stuff done? I need those kind of people.’

This time around, when he hit me with this one I looked him square and said ‘Because I am the guy who got it done for you for the last 4 years, and I will do the exact same thing here. I will run with this, I will ensure you are never surprised and I will nail this job. We both know it’

Q: What is one of your weaknesses?  I’d like to understand the nitty gritty of technology better so I can use it to implement my best ideas. The advise to forget the ploy of strength as a weakness (‘I’m a workaholic’), it is too transparent (I agree). Be real .. as long as it is not something like ‘I have a temper’.

Q: Why are you leaving your current job?  I feel like I’ve come a long way in the 3 years I’ve worked at initech (LOL, they reference Office Space), but I think now is the time to branch out into new areas.

Trash talking the old boss is a fools game. Everyone interviewer looks at you as their potential direct report or as a potential ex-employer. They do not want their weaknesses broadcast to the world. Focus instead on how the new job will allow for new challenges. Come across as a motivated self starter.

Q: What do you do with your off time?  I have a 3 year old daughter who keeps me on my toes. But I still shoot hoops on the weekends with college friends, and I’ve been reading about the revolutionary war’

They reference that the interviewer thinks that they will be seeing this person allot and it is almost like you are hiring a potential friend. I disagree with this, but think it is healthy to show well roundedness. After all, the workaholic will burn out and if I were hiring, I would want well rounded to bring new ideas, thoughts, approaches.

Interesting article.


I have been running a few interviews over the last few days and asked a peer to be part of the process. As this is for a sales position, he has a few specific questions, one is the following:
You have a red cube, how many sides are on that cube?
You cut that cube in half, how many red sides do you now have?
If you count out the number and answer, you are the kind of person who jumps to fix problems. If you ask questions (Like – is it hollow?) then you are consultative in nature – meaning that you will listen to your customers, ask questions and take a consultative sales approach.
Me? I answered with the following:
There are 0 red sides because the world does not exist and we are all just an alien’s dream.
I detest stupid interview questions.