When I first started interviewing candidates, I got the simplest and most impactful advice that I have received yet: Kill the Deal. I should not be looking to confirm that this person is the one I want to hire, but rather I should spend my time asking questions to figure out why they won’t work. This could include timing, skills, interest, culture fit, location, willingness to change jobs, or any other reason. This is not to say that the candidate is no good, or might not be a perfect candidate for another position or at another time, just that they are not the right fit for this role at this time. If, after in- depth questioning, I can’t identify any reason why this candidate is not the right one for this role, then maybe I have found the right person, and I should advance their application to the next step in the process.
The logic is that if someone is not right, I should not waste my time or theirs trying to find reasons that they can do the job. Too often, the impulse is the opposite: if the first round screener is not completely clear on an applicant, they will advance them to the next round of interviewing. This is done with the best of intentions: people don’t want to rule out someone who could be great. The net result is that time is wasted on interviews that should never have happened, or worse yet, the wrong person is hired for the job.
There is a huge difference in how people will behave if they believe that their task is to “find someone” to hire for a position, and how they will behave if they believe that they have to prevent the company from making an expensive and disruptive hiring error. Let’s think differently than we have- let’s assume that each level of screening is designed to kill the deal.
The process should be designed to ensure that anyone who gets through the resume review, initial phone screen, and first round of interviews understands the job and the environment, and has the skills and interest to do it. “Tire- kickers” and people whose skills, temperaments, and salary or working condition expectations don’t align should not advance to next round interviews with managers or owners. Their time is too valuable to waste.
If there is any doubt that the candidate is the right one, kill the deal. You are looking to bring on a top tier employee, not the first viable candidate.