Hiring in the Shadows.

Our industry is fortunate to be growing during the pandemic, and managers are blessed to be screening, hiring and onboarding valuable team members instead of saying goodbye to them. Yet because of the circumstances, we fear that we’re handicapped in the process, that we don’t have a clear view of the person on the other end of the interview.

True… but not for the reasons we think.

Our perspective on talent is compromised not because we are now hiring within the frame of a Zoom screen. It’s because we’ve always used a flawed lens to frame candidates.

What we all recognize today (that we didn’t before the pandemic) are the values and behaviors that have enabled our teams to persist, overcome and thrive. Grit, adaptability, generosity, courage, curiosity and other identifiable values have been demonstrated by our strongest team members. We’ve seen them figure things out, share, work through difficulties, pivot and empower.

So, if values and behavior are so important, why don’t we screen and interview for them?

The truth is, we’re still mostly interviewing the way we did in 2015 – and 2005 and 1995 – and it has nothing to do with the pandemic or Zoom. Our questions and process are still built around what: what have you done, what jobs have you had, what skills do you possess, what clear experience matches with the CV for this job. Which prompts us to elevate and hire safe candidates, as though our HR team and interviewing managers were bound by the Hippocratic Oath – first, do no harm.

Especially now – when independent values and self-driven, quality behavior are so vital – we should be asking how and why questions: How does one of your deeper life experiences define the way you come to work every day? Why did your last team succeed – or not succeed – in truly becoming a team? How did you work through a difficult situation involving a disappointed client or coworker? Why do you think you’d choose this company and this position over a job that might pay you slightly more? How have you personally empowered a specific team member and multiplied the value of the relationship?

As I’ve said far too many times, specific experience in our industry doesn’t age like wine; it ages like fish. Tech and circumstances change, business practices evolve, new models emerge. What you’ve done isn’t as important to me as why you believe what you believe and how you bring it to life on the job – your values and behaviors. The Zoom interview screen isn’t preventing you from knowing these answers. It’s your own curiosity and the framing of your questions.