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Recruiter Prejudice

I have been busily building up the blogs on which is a recruitment information site sponsored by mlh global hr consulting. This has made me slow with regard to my own blog.

One of the things I have written was a series on answering different interview questions. Towards the end of this series I tackled the question of hobbies and interests. For me this is a challenging question because I feel that the answer is fraught with the risk of triggering stereotypes and prejudices in the interviewer. My advice to candidates in this particular area has always been cautious - steer clear of anything remotely controversial - and yet one worries if this is encouraging people to not show their true selves.

Interestingly my advice on this occasion was questioned and the question was along the lines of 'if the interviewer shows not the remotest interest in me as a person then I would not want to join the company'. This was a good call since it made me clarify my advice which is not that one should not show interest but that one should not build it into the formal set piece interview process because that leads to all sorts of pressure to perform and runs the risk of interviewer prejudice.

It does raise another interesting thought. Just how realistic is it to get to know someone in the ca 3 hours you spend with them when you are recruiting them. And the 3 hours is frequently spread over a number of people. They say that a house is probably your biggest spend and one that you spend on average something like 20 minutes looking at/deciding. Scary but for me a fairly accurate time frame and I have bought a fair number of properties over the years. An interview is quite close - you make a decision about inviting someone to join your team or company over a relatively short period of time (and they you). But when done well this time frequently proves to be sufficient.

Some of this is the extent to which you need to know someone in order to hire them. You want to know if they can do the job, you want to know if they are motivated to do a good job, and if they are the kind of person who can work well in your business/team etc. With the latter you should be looking more for contra indicators - evidence they won't fit - rather than trying to fit them to a mould. Not only is the latter somewhat legally dubious, it also means that you run the risk of missing out on really great talent and having a very one dimensional team.

I recently listened to a talk at a conference where the speaker was extolling the virtues of a company that takes about 40 meetings/40 hours to select a new recruit. This was positioned as testimony to their commitment to getting the culture right and to ensure continuous high performance. Personally I was horrified. It just seemed so inefficient and also it just did not feel necessary. One has got to be able to make a highly effective decision in much less time. But is this just me - or do others feel the same?

I also worry about the imposition on the individual - they effectively have to take a week off work in the hope of getting a job with you and what if one of the very many people they meet does not like them. Is this valid? Do we need to personally like the people we work with or just respect them? Interesting thoughts to ponder and no easy answer


Published by: Lisette on 28/01/2009 - Add a comment

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