A woman has been sitting in our lobby for 71 minutes. Patiently waiting. Sitting and chatting. More precisely, a candidate for our administrative/bookkeeper position has been sitting patiently for more than an hour. Part of this is her own doing – she was 20 minutes early; part of it is happenstance – our branch manager had another meeting this morning that is running muuuuuch longer than expected. She’s not concerned; she’s willing to wait.
This is a huge point in her favour. She has been speaking with our recruitment manager and our current administrator, and has been demonstrating how personable and professional she is – two key points to this position.
But I’m not writing this to talk about her; I’m writing this to talk about me (is there any topic more important?).
I have held positions for the last 5 or 6 years that have included recruiting and interviewing as main tasks. This is no coincidence. I like doing this. However, recently, my interviewing is more straightforward. Often, it comes in the form of “networking”, so that by the time I am proposing a candidate to a client, I have already met and spoken with this person a multitude of times. The final “interview” acts more as a fine tuning of a proposal, rather than a qualifying interrogation. This process works for me, but I am kind of missing out.
Years ago, when I was in retail, my district manager suggested that at the end of all interviews I could ask candidates to “sell me this pencil” (referring to the mechanical pencil I had been using during the interview). It was a pretty great question. I learned next to nothing about the candidate’s sales ability, but I learned a lot about the person’s temperament. It was a frivolous question, but I wanted to find people who would take the request seriously. That would say a lot about how they would approach the job.
I have done other “tricky” things. I once had a candidate for an admin position express an interest to eventually get into HR. At the end of the interview, I asked her to grade my interviewing techniques (since hiring can be part of HR duties). Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my colleague (who shared the office space) shuddering as he tried not to laugh.
The point of this blog post is that I miss doing a lot of these things – these interviewing tricks – and I think I should re-focus and try to work them back into my interviewing process. The problem is that when I’m interviewing a Project Manager with 30 years experience, I can’t really ask him to “sell me this pencil”. I guess I’ll just have to learn some new techniques. [tips welcome!]
P.S. Regarding “sell me this pencil”, it was a damned nice pencil. I looked through all the pencils at the office supply store and picked that one out for a variety of reasons. When a candidate couldn’t think of at least one good thing to say about my pencil, it irked me. How dare they be so dismissive of my pencil!