Helping Your Hiring Manager See Past the Friendly Face

Using resources like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, candidates can easily break through your carefully crafted behavioral interview questions; before you know it you’ve got a Controller who can’t figure out the balance sheet.

Kris Dunn recently wrote a post on how candidates can beat weak hiring managers and it is a great example of the advice that’s easy to find on the web.

Here is a quick snippet:

“Your interview is full of opinions and insights coming from the interviewer.  They’re trying to build flow.  Your job as a candidate is to use that and build even more momentum.  Here’s how you do it:

You hear the interviewer/hiring manager share an opinion or experience they appear to view as positive.  You automatically grab something from your past that shows you’ve had a similar experience.  That’s a +1 strategy.

Non work-related example – Hiring Manager complaining about DMV.  You share your worst DMV experience.  Shared misery +1.” Click over to FOT to read the rest. 

I love this advice because building a rapport and finding something in common with your interviewer can only help you get the offer; We tend to hire people we like.

The problem is when your hiring manager can’t recognize this bias or struggles to get past it. When you don’t interview on a regular basis its hard to build up that interrogation style that gets you real answers and not fluff.

How do you get past this +1?

One brute-force method I’ve observed, is an all business, no fluff style and I’ve named it the “stone cold” style. In this style, the interviewer maintains a flat affect and doesn’t engage in the “fluff.” Your candidate who is looking for a +1 can’t get one and is forced to talk about their experience.

One example:

The interviewer greets the candidate. Makes a perfunctory offer of coffee/water/etc; And moves quickly to the purpose of the interview: “We’re here to talk about our Accountant opening today. I’d like you to start by describing to me your experience in cost accounting.”

And you’re off!

This can be very unsettling to a candidate who is expecting some kind of small talk (the flow Kris mentions above) and it puts them on the defensive.  It’s tough to build that rapport or +1 when the conversation is all business.

In a prior life I had a hiring manager who swore by this interview style because it cut through the crap. In our wrap up meetings he usually had an excellent grasp of the candidates skills and background. Unfortunately with that interview style, it can be hard to get a feel for the candidates personality. Candidates can also walk away thinking the hiring manager is a jerk and move on to another opening.

Judging by Kris’s comments at the end of the post, I’m guessing he prefers to take the candidates +1 and run with it until they forget they’re trying to build rapport and actually share real opinions.

What about my readers? How do you coach your hiring managers to get past the fluff and get real information?

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