Can You Reserve Judgment Until the 31st Minute?
BY Scott Leibs
Judging job applicants too quickly could take a terrible toll on your company.
“When interviewing job candidates, withhold all personal judgments until the 31st minute.”
First impressions only happen once--and if you’re searching for top talent, you should give candidates at least 30 minutes to make one. That’s the advice of executive recruiter Lou Adler, president of the Adler Group.
Too often, hiring managers botch the interview process by allowing their immediate impressions of a candidate to shape the entire interaction. “If you click with someone right away, you go easy on them,” Adler explains. “On the other hand, if you have a bad initial reaction, you tend to ask hardball questions.”
It’s good to be aware of this bias, which can be an unconscious one, so you don’t miss a chance to make a great hire. “One CEO I know found many reasons not to hire a very strong candidate, but what it came down to was, he didn’t like her nervous laugh,” Adler says. He recommends not making decisions about candidates until at least the 31st minute of the interview.
Meanwhile, remember that while candidates are working hard to sell themselves to you, you should work just as hard to sell your company to them. For example, Adler says, a 300-person entertainment company looking for a controller posted a job opening headlined “Oscar-Winning Controller.” The ad talked about how “Everyone will thank you when they win their Oscars and Emmys.” In doing so, “They took a fairly run-of-the-mill position and attracted some great candidates by emphasizing their culture and how they valued the job,” Adler says.
SCOTT LEIBS is executive editor of Inc. magazine, where he oversees the Build and Money sections while also handling a range of other writing and editing duties for the magazine, website, and custom publishing projects. He is a former editor in chief of CFO magazine and a former senior editor for InformationWeek, and has written for many other publications, including The Economist and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a graduate of Emerson College, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts.