How The Introvert Fits – Why Your Interview Process May Be Letting You Down

It’s “fit” week here at the HR Introvert. Does anyone really know what that word means?

Remember the interview team from Monday’s post? Well, they have had another candidate in today and it is time for the debrief. Let’s Join Joe, Maryan, and the Hiring Manager as they delve into their thoughts on today’s candidate.

“I have to say, his resume blew me away when I saw it.” Joe is shaking his head a bit, “But if I’m being honest, I don’t see him fitting in at all with this group. He didn’t tell me much about his personal interests, and he asked a lot of questions about how we work, what are the expected hours, and what are the primary means of communication. Oh, and when I mentioned that we liked to dress in our favorite team jerseys during college football, he seemed totally disinterested.”

Maryan added her view. “I asked him about the accomplishments in that resume, and you know, I think it’s all genuine. He knows this stuff backward and forward. And, now that I think about it, he asked me a lot more questions than a candidate typically does. He asked about our routine team meetings, how often the group does things like go to lunch together, and if everyone generally participates. Isn’t that a bit odd for a candidate? You can learn those things after you get the job.”

The Hiring Manager asked if that means they were both saying “no” for this candidate. Joe and Maryan seemed to agree that there were other candidates in the pool that had most of the technical skills, but would probably be a better fit for the team. The Hiring Manager agreed, saying he just didn’t see the “spark” he likes to see.

Too bad. What all three of them failed to see was that the candidate was doing a great job of interviewing them, preparing himself for how he could be a great employee there. The “spark” was all over his resume.

We all think we know what makes us tick, what allows us to be our most effective. This candidate was trying to decide if his work style would be compatible with the others. He didn’t want to go to lunch all the time, but he also didn’t want to be that guy who is eventually sidelined because he isn’t social enough. And if they don’t choose someone who shows all the capability of doing the work, then they lost out.

I have had over 14 bosses over the years. Most of them, once they get to know me, truly value my style and approach to work. They tell me that it takes time to understand how I work, but once they do they can give me assignments that they feel are uniquely suited to me. And know they will get done.

If your face-to-face interview is one day, and your interviewers think that they will assess the ability of the candidate to work effectively in the organization accurately, they are wrong.  Anyone who has worked in HR for any length of time has heard a manager say this phrase:

He interviewed so well, everyone liked him. I don’t understand how we could have been so wrong that now we are letting him go after only 9 months.

It’s simple – the interview process is not the work environment. It is a stage where everyone is acting, and the judges (interview team) base their decisions on a relatively brief interaction.

So, the next time you have that quiet candidate, or the one who seems to ask a lot of questions about the work processes – how people actually interact in the workplace – understand that he might be preparing himself to be your next big performer.

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