Today it was announced that in China a man successfully sued his wife after she gave birth to a baby the husband considered so ugly he insisted she must have had an affair. When it surfaced that the woman had had a lot of plastic surgery before they met and the new daughter merely inherited her old face, the man not only divorced his wife, but sued her for the equivalent of $120k -- and he won. The judge ruled the man had married the woman under “false pretenses.
If that is the case, how long before clients start taking this approach with candidates who interview under false pretenses.
Lets be honest many people say that the person you see at interview is the best they are ever going to be, which is a fairly pessimistic comment but unfortunately would resonate for many an employer.
Given first impressions are so important – while we are not telling our candidate to have plastic surgery - it is incredible how an average candidate with great coaching on how to look and what to say can make a huge difference to the hiring decision. You could argue that it is a client’s job to peel away the layers until they really get to the heart of the candidate but interviewing is not easy and it is very difficult to put your own personal biases to one side, (and much harder for line managers with little interviewing training who go with their “gut”)
The solution – much more focus on referencing. Ignore the references they give you and focus on other colleagues they worked with, maybe people who worked for them as well as other senior people in the organisation who may not have had a direct line into them. Why? Well you are tapping into their last 5 or 10 years experience as opposed to how they perform at interview. With the prevalence of social media it is so easy to see how people are connected and how you can take more informal references. A word of warning – you do always need to understand where the referee is coming from when they offer their opinion. Also – it takes time and takes diplomacy and trust.
Finally – don’t take the references at the end of the process – if they come back poor you have just wasted your time, more importantly if we want to hire the person we are much more likely to put a positive spin on anything said to us about the person and ignore the message we are meant to hear.
If your talent is that important to you - would you not want to know what others are really saying about your next "superstar"