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One Candidate, Three Different Reviews, One Decision to Hire. Or not?

Imagine being psyched about this one candidate that you have interviewed! She was so open to sharing her career ambitions with you, caring about involving other colleagues of hers in her work and passionate about her own professional development. You pass your notes about her over to your colleague Adrian who is the perfect backend developer to assess her skills during the technical interview. And Daniel, the tech lead will join the interview too

How many people have you talked to today? 3, 4? You can’t even remember, as this one in particular stood out. You think about how easy it was to talk to her and how easy it will be to work with her. Maybe she will even be your ally in introducing this new holacracy methodology to the rest of the team (We work with it at Asellion). She knows her s#!t.

Right after her technical interview, Daniel knows where to find you – so he does. He would probably like to chat to you about the paperwork that needs to be resolved for her to be able to join your company. We want to make the hiring process as smooth as possible for candidates we think would fit our team.

In reality, though… Daniel comes to your desk, still sipping on the coffee he had with the candidate, and nonchalantly says:

No. It’s a clear ‘no’. Maybe other candidates will be better tomorrow.’

Your reaction:

disappointed girl

Wait, what?! How come?

To make matters more complicated, Adrian shrugs and says: “Hmm okay. I liked her though…’

Yes, this actually happened to me a few times, at different companies. Quite a few.

In time, I learned to take advantage of this moment of doubt, to uncover new learnings; to navigate uncertainty; to use my bond of trust with my team in order to make sense of very different reviews of the same candidate.

When several people in your organization have different opinions about the same candidate, how do you reach a conclusion?

I have to say, my solid background in psychology, on top of mediation training, helped me a lot in capturing people’s qualities and identifying inconsistencies.

I would like to share my insights with you, so you learn from my mistakes. And maybe learn from the times I did it well too :-). Here are a few pointers to use when you find yourself in disagreement with your hiring manager or another recruiter along a candidate’s journey.

3 is a magic number. So 3 tips I have for you:

1) Get the story straight

When discussing about a candidate with other interviewers, I usually want to first agree on the facts:

  • What happened during the interview?
  • What were our collective experiences with the candidate?
  • How did they answer our questions?
  • How did they behave when interacting with us?

This part of the discussion is key for me, to set the stage for our later judgements of this person. It also helps smooth out any inconsistencies in our experiences.

For example, this one time, a candidate was rather slow in her reactions to the interviewers’ questions. One of them interpreted that as deep thinking: she seemed to really ponder on the question and consider all alternatives before formulating her suggestion. On the other hand, the other interviewer perceived her as indecisive. Her side of the truth: she was anxious about the interview so she was less focused than usual about solving problems. This is why I find it crucial to first agree on what happened and then build our conclusions based on multiple ‘entry points’ 🤓related to her behavior or words.

2) Separate the must-have’s from the nice-to-have’s

Knowing the difference between must-have’s and nice-to-have’s is not only useful when writing job descriptions, but also during interviews. Therefore, a long list of reasons for rejection might actually be areas of improvement that are not vital for the role.

Recruitment is not math. Besides the number of qualities and flaws someone shows in the interviews, consider their relative relevance for the job itself.

3) Think in practical terms: is what you see really what you get?

Let’s say that, by now, you all agree that the candidate has a hacker mindset and likes to experiment in their job. That’s just what you need for this role… right?

But why?

Ideally, when you created the job description, you started off with how good work would look like for this role. Then, you concluded that a person that fulfills the X, Y, Z requirements could be successful in this role. Consequently, during and after the interview with a candidate, you try to imagine them in this role. So the next questions arise:

  • What do their qualities mean, in the context of their future work?
  • Looking at the behaviors of the candidate during the interview, what can you predict about their future behaviors at work?

1, 2, 3, easy. 

Do you do the same as me when you deal with differing opinions about the same candidates? Let me know in the comments.

If you agree with me and especially if you disagree, let’s connect on LinkedIn, Twitter or in real life, at the Sourcing Summit, where I’ll speak about hacking your work – experimenting in recruitment for the win!

By: Laura Petrescu – Associate Recruiter @ LevelUp