Can they do the job?
It certainly seems like a simple question, almost a no-brainer, right? Yet I wonder how often this question is deliberately answered.
Ever heard any of these?
"Just look at her resume!"
"He knows SO MUCH about this job."
"She talks like someone who's been in this business for a decade."
"I really 'like' him as a candidate.'
None of those answers the very simple question of if they can do the job. If this was a courtroom, they would only have provided circumstantial evidence, when what they need to do is provide clear and definitive evidence that answers the question. A yes or a no are fine - “I’m not sure,” “We’ll see,” and “I think so” are not.
So how does someone answer it?
First, you must begin the process without assumptions. Assumptions are the hobgoblins of flawed hiring.
However, as humans, we’re wired to make assumptions. As mentioned at a 2011 Neuroscience conference:
“…research indicates that, whenever a clear answer is not immediately obvious from the situations people are presented with, their brains fall back to making reasonable guesses.
Think about it. How often do employers make assumptions based just on physical appearance? How about the appearance of the resume itself? When was the last time you pigeon-holed someone on LinkedIn because their profile had to be categorized in your mind?
Once the assumptive process begins, it triggers emotions. That’s a slippery slope because of what neuroscience tells us about emotions – they process 400x faster than our intellect can make sense of them. You sunk your own battleship.
The second step is to deliberately ask the question to yourself, “Can this person do the job?” even before you meet the first candidate. My suggestion is that you write it down somewhere on your interviewing notes. Keep it front of mind.
Your interview questions should all point back to answering THE question. What or who they know does not fit this category. How they think most definitely does.
Third step is to get a second opinion.
One. Second. Opinion. Not a committee.
Let that person sit in your interview simply observing, not engaging the candidate. The moment they engage, they become subjective and give up their objectivity.
Some time ago, I was interviewing CEO candidates for a client. In the room was the Chairman, two Board members, and me. We intentionally had the Chairman leading the interview with one Board member taking a backup interview position, each scripted with questions and timing. The second Board member and myself were on the opposite end of the room, also by intention.
Near the top of the hour, the Chairman turned (again, scripted) and asked if I had any questions for the candidate. I had one. The answer at this point is irrelevant, and I’ll cover it in another post. What is relevant is the Board member who had been allowed to conduct part of the interview didn’t see what happened right in front of his face – he lost his objectivity. That happens far too often. Make sure your second opinion is setup for success to be objective. If they can’t (because some folks just can’t remain silent) get a new second opinion.
Final method to answer the burning question of if the candidate can do the job...
Get an unbiased opinion.
How can you do that? Find a deep, reliable psychometric or talent assessment and learn how to get the most out of it. Use it often so you’re as familiar as possible with it. Heck, use it inside your organization to coach your people on a daily/weekly basis. Then it’ll get into your working knowledge wheelhouse. It won’t take long to see the payoff when interviewing.
Incidentally, I start with the unbiased opinion very early in the process. It doesn’t lie, which starts the hiring process on the best possible note.
Now, go out and hire some people who you know can do the job!
Next, we'll find out how well they can do it.