Hiring new employees is kind of like dating

At a recent meeting of the Henderson Libraries Business Book Club, we discussed a fascinating book called “SWAY, the Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior,” by Ori and Rom Brafman. Writing in the breezy style of “Freakonomics,” the Brafman brothers shed light on the real reasons we humans often behave in ways that are counterproductive (and sometimes downright stupid).

I was particularly intrigued by the section on hiring new employees. As a partner here at Imagine, I’ve been involved in this process enough to know that it’s an iffy proposition at best. We’ve been extremely fortunate in bringing new folks into the fold but, as the book points out, there’s a large element of luck involved. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the 10 most common job interview questions:


·Why should I hire you?

·What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

·What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

·How would you describe yourself?

·What college subject did you like best? Least?

·What do you know about our company?

·Why did you decide to seek a job with our company?

·Why did you leave your last job?

·What do you want to earn five years from now?

·What do you really want to do in life?

If these sound familiar, you’re not alone. They sound familiar to your job candidates, too. Which makes it that much easier for them to game the system. In that respect, it’s kind of like dating.

In fact, according to the authors, only one of the above questions has any real value. Can you guess which one? (Cue “Jeopardy” theme.) Time’s up. It’s “What do you know about our company?” The reason is that it shows initiative on the part of the prospective employee.

Rather than relying on these essentially meaningless questions, the Brafmans recommend standardized tests as the best method for identifying the right people for your organization. Compatibility is a key component, another similarity to the world of dating. Eharmony, for example, emphasizes that element above all others.

At Imagine Marketing, we’ve used tests like “Strengths Finder” for some time now. But we’d still be hard pressed to completely abandon the interview process. (Actually, multiple interviews with multiple Imagine team members.) Maybe a combination of objective testing and gut instinct is the best approach. Now, if we could just find a way to quantify luck.

Brian Rouff serves as managing partner for Imagine Marketing.

Contact Brian at brouff@imnv.com.

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