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Be Honest: You're Hiring People to Be Your Friends

New research shows that shared hobbies and interests are key factors in the employer's decision to hire. Is that so wrong?
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Be honest: You don't only hire someone based on their years of experience or skill level. Personality counts, too.

In fact, it may count more than you'd care to admit. 

According to new research, shared interests and hobbies matter the most to employers when looking for a new hire. 

"Employers really want people who they will bond with, who they will feel good around, who will be their friend and maybe even their romantic partner. As a result, employers don’t necessarily hire the most skilled candidates," said study author Lauren Rivera, a professor at Northwestern University in a statement.

For the study, researchers interviewed 120 hiring managers at elite investment banks, law firms and management consulting firms from 2006 to 2008. The participants were "predominately white, Ivy League-educated, upper-middle or upper-class men and women," Rivera noted.

The study asked participants to evaluate mock applicants. One hiring manager at a "scrappy" firm rejected a qualified applicant because: “I’m looking at the interests [on his résumé]—lacrosse, squash, crew [laughs]…I don’t think he’s going to fit in well here …we’re more rough and tumble."

Another snubbed a candidate with interests in 18th-century literature and avant-garde film because he seemed too “intellectual.”

On hiring methodology, roughly four-fifths of participants said they use the “airplane test." (One participant explained: "Would I want to be stuck in an airport in Minneapolis in a snowstorm with them? And if I’m on a business trip for two days and I have to have dinner with them, is it the kind of person I enjoy hanging with?")

Chemistry is crucial, another participant said in the study: "You will see way more of your co-workers than your wife, your kids…So you can be the smartest guy ever, but I don't care. I need to be comfortable working everyday with you."

The study's findings do not ring true for all recruiters: "In 30 years of recruiting, I've never seen anyone get a job specifically because they share an interest in hockey with the potential employer," Jeff Zinser, president of executive search firm Right Recruiting, told Fortune.

 

Last updated: Dec 4, 2012




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