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Attention Interviewers: No One Is Perfect!

February 26th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

The job interview process has turned into the “perfection process.”

It used to be that if you had 80% of the requirements you could attain the other 20% on the job, since every company is different and requires some level of acclimation. And a little “room for growth” was a good thing. Not so today. Organizations believe that they should be able to ask for the moon and if someone doesn’t have one competency on the requirements list they are bounced from the process.

It’s a plug-and-play world out there, my friends.

And that’s just to get your resume past the applicant-tracking monster that chomps and spits out resumes lacking the appropriate key words and phrases. Passing that hurdle, you begin the tortuous journey through the perfection process, often consisting of six or more interviews over a four month period. Or more. And then you are told they will get back to you in a few days, which turns into a few weeks, which may turn into not at all.

A friend of mine recently was subjected to this craziness. Multiple interviews over several months, all with positive feedback. She did all the right things to prepare, to ask good questions, to “check in” as the process progressed. She could fill the role in a heartbeat. She had been brought in by a former colleague. And in the end they told her that it turned out they weren’t hiring in the group where she would fit best. Really? Could they not have determined that earlier?

Why do people in organizations believe that inflicting this type of pain on someone is acceptable? It’s not even humane. Perhaps the perpetrators of pain were similarly tortured during their “perfection process” and feel it only fair to pass it on. It’s insane.

I used to be a recruiter for a hi-tech firm. We had very specific requirements for each position. We selected people for interviews based on those qualifications, and then we paid even closer attention to whether they would be a good fit for the organization. We were building an organization based not on perfection, but on values: what I call the two Cs – Competency and Culture.

The fact is, no one is perfect. No one has every single competency listed on the job description. And yet we have somehow created the expectation of perfection.

I say, let’s get back to basics. Instead of rejecting someone because they don’t walk on water, find out who they are as a human being. Certainly they need to be qualified for the role; yet that doesn’t need to be a 100% match. Consider whether they are someone you would want to work with side-by-side. Are they a team player? Will they “have your back” or throw you under the bus? Can they leave their ego at the door and be willing to learn? Will they put the good of the company ahead of their personal needs? Do they have a life and interests outside of work? Will they be able to bring their personality to work and be an individual versus a company drone that speaks the same, looks the same and acts the same as everyone else?

And…let’s incorporate some civility into the process. Let’s interview in a humane way that makes people feel good as they go through process instead of feeling “less than.”

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” - George Orwell

Till next time,

Interviewing, Job search, Leadership, People

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