By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B
In a recent blog posting (Politicians and Recruiters Make Strange Bedfellows) I suggested that there are some interesting similarities between the process that companies use to fill their open positions and how voters end up choosing a candidate for a political office.
If you think about it, political candidates are actually applying for a job, a job that carries with it certain responsibilities and in many cases comes with a pretty generous compensation package and opportunities for career advancement in or out of politics. In other words it is a good job.
And the voters make up the hiring committee, that group that will ultimately decide by majority vote which candidate will get the job, will be hired.
Candidates for any political office should be required to apply for a particular position (office), their application including resume should then be reviewed (vetting process) by the hiring committee (voters) and those deemed qualified and who are interested and available should be invited in for a series of interviews (primaries).
I was thinking about this comparison over the past couple of weeks while watching some of the highlights (and low lights) of the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. In the political arena the debate format is used as a series of final interviews for the candidates.
Regardless of which side you are on, most voters would agree that if conducted properly a debate is a good format for addressing issues that are important and sometimes critical to job performance for that office, and for observing how each candidate responds to the various questions, thus giving the voter (sometimes undecided) enough information to make a decision for or against a particular candidate.
Could a debate format work as part of the hiring process?
Let’s say that a hiring manager has an opening to fill and a number of candidates have been screened and presented for consideration. A series of interviews have been conducted, phone and face-to-face by various stakeholders in the hiring process, including internal recruiters.
The hiring manager has selected three very qualified candidates that he would like to schedule in for final interviews before he makes the hiring decision. Normally, these three interviews would be set for each candidate and each would be interviewed, hopefully by the same individuals or team and each would have been asked the same questions. Debriefing meetings could be held after each candidate is interviewed and notes for all interviews would be compared and a decision made.
But what if all three candidates were brought in at the same time for a Job Debate?
The audience could be made up of company employees, vendors, upper management, customers, board members, anyone who might have an interest in hiring the best candidate for the position to be filled. The moderator would be the hiring manager and the questions that each candidate would be asked would have been prepared with input from all stakeholders and would deal only with issues that were necessary to performance for that position.
The candidates would be made aware of the topics to be covered, would have been given, if they did not already know, the performance expectations for the position, the critical initiatives that they would need to address and accomplish within the first 90 -180 days in that position.
Depending on the position, upper management, mid-management, staff, the job debates could be one and done or a series of up to three. All relevant topics would be covered, each candidate would have a chance to sell himself/herself to a much broader audience, and decisions regarding the hire could be made based on a comparison of each candidate’s responses to the questions and to the other candidates.
So, would a Job Debate work? I have a feeling that most hiring managers would not want to try because, not unlike the political debates, they have already made up their minds regarding which candidate will be hired.
But here is the upside to at least considering a Job Debate. More people will have an opportunity to see and hear each candidate. Other opportunities may present themselves to other hiring managers in attendance, thus allowing for more than one candidate being hired. The entire hiring process would become more transparent and candidates would be excited and anxious to apply to future openings just to participate in the process.
Now, I for one would like to be the fact checker in these Job Debates, unless you think that none of these candidates would ever stretch the truth.