Early in my Human Resources career, I did a lot of recruiting. I recruited for some crazy managers. I found out fast that everyone has quirks. Not everyone is as sane and logical as I am. Seriously!
I recruited for a young thirty-ish manager who did not like to hire women older than he was. It had something to do with his mother and his childhood but it eliminated some very qualified people. I suggested counseling but in the end we just hired younger women.
There was a manager who wanted to see “energy” in his candidates. I asked him what “energy” looks like to him and he told me he would know it if he saw it. From his hires, I would say that energy looks like a drinking buddy.
There was a young inexperienced woman who was filling in for a supervisor. She hired anyone who was alive. Put a mirror under their nose and if there was breathing, they started on Monday. Fortunately, I screened out serial killers and psychos. Since I wasn’t very familiar with the specific job itself, I couldn’t guarantee a successful hire so her job was to interview for the skills necessary to do the job. I was very glad when the supervisor returned from her leave.
We had a high level opening reporting to an executive. The executive was young but very competent in his specialty. That knowledge did not extend to other managerial aspects. He was easily snowed by brashness in an interview. The person we hired did little and ran a side business on company time. It took some nudging but I did convince the exec that he needed to cut him loose…three years later.
I recruited for another executive who liked positive, upbeat people. I would agree that this is a good trait. He crossed off anyone who was not smiling in the interview. Interviews with an executive can be very intimidating but that was no excuse. Smile or you are out!
For a period of time I worked with someone who had some…um…unusual recruiting methods. To test whether someone was healthy, he would have them walk up the stairs to the second floor for the interview. If the breathing was heavy, that was a demerit.
The very first person I worked with in recruiting gave me some sage (?) advice. She said to always check a candidate’s shoes. If they were scuffed, it was a sign of poor attention to detail. I started checking my shoes more regularly after that.
I often found that during that first six-month honeymoon period, the supervisors thought the new hire was the savior to the company. In truth, they may have had a skill that their predecessor did not that really made them look good. Or more likely, they did not have an annoying trait that the predecessor had. Maybe they were savvy enough to accomplish some low hanging fruit. Supervisors would want to increase their salary (no!) or change their title (not without a change in job duties!). Then after six months, the shine was off and they were just regular employees complete with warts. If I had a dollar for every time I saw this happen…..
Do any of these situations ring true to you? These are all true stories and sometimes I wonder how the right people ever get in the right spots. During my tenure we tightened procedures and interviewed against job skills rather than personality. However, that final decision is with the hiring manager and you can never get rid of biases completely.
In the meantime, please check your shoes.
Photo credits: Smiling candidate courtesy of voguemarie2010; super office worker courtesy of istolethetv; and scuffy shoes courtes of swissrolli, all of Flickr.