I was interviewing for a management position in a dental office. The interview went well, but I was a little bit surprised when the dentist said that his wife would be taking me out to lunch to meet the other staff members. And he would not be there. We had a casual lunch, sitting on the tall chairs at Applebee’s, eating nachos. I’ve been in similar positions before, knowing that this isn’t just lunch. This is an interview with, not only the staff, but also with the dentist’s wife. I was friendly, confident, and engaging. I was trying hard to be myself and proving that I was likeable and approachable (two very important characteristics of a manager). I really wanted to work there. I was hungry, and not just for the nachos.
The dentist did something really right – he had his staff take me out to lunch. Patrick Lencioni, author of 11 books on leadership and organizational health, explains that interviews these days should be nontraditional. You may still want to use a series of behavioral-based questions (the what is your typical role in a team setting? type), but you need to go beyond that. You need to make sure that you are hiring someone that is humble, hungry, and smart (see How to Hire a Hungry Employee – Part 1). These personality traits don’t always come out in an interview, so you need to do something with them. Take them shopping, or take them to dinner or lunch (like the dentist did). Take them somewhere where they have to interact with people in a social setting. Lencioni says that it’s easy to “fake” an interview and be charming or witty. But to really see how a person behaves in a social situation, you need to put them in one.
Let’s talk more about the interview. Be frank with the candidate. Lencioni says to be up front and say, “This is what I’m looking for.” It is not your job to win them over. Don’t hire out of desperation. You will be surprised at how many people you will weed out when they hear you mention that you need someone willing to work overtime.
If you’ve done a one-on-one interview and have narrowed down your search to a few qualified candidates, Lencioni suggests doing a group interview. Most, if not all, businesses require working as a team and interacting with people. This is a great opportunity to see how they interact with each other in a stressful situation. You will start to see who you would enjoy working with the most, and that can make all the difference.
Does your business require someone with a sense of humor? Work it into your interview process. Maybe it’s a funny (but appropriate) question or requiring them to wear something funny to the interview. This will definitely weed out the people that aren’t comfortable being funny.
If you are still not quite ready to make the leap into hiring an individual, Lencioni recommends hiring them as a temp for one week. This is a paid, working interview. The hungry candidate will gladly accept this offer. And the employer will have first-hand experience at how well the candidate will fit into the organization. I used to require working interviews in the dental office that I managed. It was a great chance to see how the candidate greeted patients, answered phones, interacted with the staff, and stayed organized in a busy environment. I could see if this person was humble, hungry, and smart.
Lastly, Lencioni says not to over-emphasize the quantifiable aspects of the job. You don’t have to, and don’t want to, lure candidates by money. You will be bringing on the wrong people. Remember, you are not trying to win them over. What is one of the most sought-after companies that people want to work for? Southwest Airlines. Thousands of people apply to work for Southwest, not because of the pay, but because of the love culture. If you have an environment where people want to go to work every day, you will not need to win them over. They will be hungry enough to work for you.
Find the hungry employee.
(Are you interested in learning more from Patrick Lencioni? Click here)
I'm Erin, and typos drive me crazy! I'm an MBA graduate with over 15 years of experience in HR, small business management, academia, and social media. I am a wife, mother, half marathon runner, and lover of the outdoors.