The recruiters conference I attended last Friday started off on the right foot – we calculated the cost of a bad hire (even for a $6 an hour employee, it can run $2400 or more), interacted with the moderator about CEOs’ perception of candidates brought in by an outside agency (79% unfavorable) and even discussed the challenge of finding “A” players in a tight talent market. But when the speaker explained their approach of grilling a candidate on each and every job back to high school (Tell me your bosses name. Spell it. Tell me your closest peer’s name at that job. Spell it.) during a 3 to 4 hour long third interview, I began to lose faith in the chef.

This approach to candidate qualification suggests they have no idea which questions will reveal the undefined information their gut requires to make a subjective judgment about the candidate’s ability to fit in. (Italics are all mine and denote disbelief and a little sarcasm.)

This quantity vs. quality approach is certain to destroy any rapport built with the candidate during the qualification process, and simply feeds the interviewer with fodder for rationalization. As a candidate in that scenario, I would jump out of the frying pan fast and head for a more trust-oriented environment.

Effective selection uses evidence-based techniques early in the process to ensure that the final interview is a confirmation of mutual interest, skill alignment and “fit.” Time is not wasted. Questions are revealing and insightful (not just plentiful) and rapport is maintained throughout the process. Assessment tools like the ones used by Select Metrix in their work for our company provide meaningful information and not only help find the right candidate, but help us adapt our new hire orientation and on-ramp activities for maximum traction.

I wonder what the real costs are for spending three interviews (the speaker’s approach included a 1 hour phone screen, 2+ hours at a lunch or dinner interview, and then that final 3-4 hour death march) only to find that the candidate is much further along on the trust meter …with someone else.

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