How to or NOT how to screen for candidates

I had an interesting discussion the other day with a founder of a VC-backed tech startup that they want to scale their local operations and they aim to onboard 60-70 new team members across technology, sales, marketing and operations in the next nine months.

To any experienced professional this seems a herculean task and not a feat for the weak hearted. As the conversation continued to the how-to perform this task, it got me thinking of my early day as a hiring manager and my own mental process with regards to screening promising job candidates.

Prior to the interview

After spending hours scavenging though applicants CV’s my first impression on one applicant would be wow, this person’s CV is fantastic! He or she tick all the boxes for the role, they know the industry and they know the lingo. They will be easy to on-board and they can hit the ground running and deliver results. They might be a little on the expensive side, but they are definitely worth it. I need to convince this person to work for us.

During the interview

During the interview session, the conversation would linger around the following.  I must present a strong case for why they should work for us. I need to get across our key elements and talk about our vision, mission, the technology, and why their personal and professional experience is a great culture fit for this role and our company.

After the interview

That interview session went well, He or she seemed interested in joining us. This is a great achievement. Everything is going to work out nicely, we need to fill this role ASAP and they want to work for us. Sounds like a done deal.

This well-intended approach as a hiring manager however yielded over time a number of hires who did not work out for a variety of reasons.  I later realized I could have easily avoided upfront numerous of these hires, with a different mental process.

So at some point in time, I realized that there is another mental process and approach that is simple and effective at identifying and selecting “Star” players from other job candidates, where “non-Star” players are either low performers or people who would not be a good fit at the company, team and/or in a specific role.

In a nutshell, the mental process is to allow candidates to GO-FIRST and invite them to share their career goals and aspirations and also give an honest assessment of their skills and interests. By picking up on their answers and asking clarifying follow-up questions such as, “What do you mean by that?” “What happened in the situation you just mentioned?” “Tell me more about your experience with XYZ.” I avoid swaying them in any way and thus getting the answer I was hoping for. In other words, I now know I should not be trying to convince anyone to work for us.

These are the things I have learned and observed from working with a new breed of emerging professionals. Want to learn more on how-to-do, drop us an email and we will be happy to share our knowledge and insights with you!


Christos Lytras – Managing Partner

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