Conflict in the Process!
“What’s in the box?!”
David Mills (Brad Pitt) struggles with an epic conflict of interest. Take revenge for the killing of his wife by executing his handcuffed guilty prisoner or allow him to live and go to prison.
Sin #8 of the 7 deadly sins should be – not recognizing that the basic structure of the interview/hiring process is riddled with inherent and significant conflicts of interest. As we reviewed in the Introduction to the PURE Hire Series, the first step in solving a problem is coming to grips that a problem exists in the first place. Realizing and understanding that you, your company and the candidate are exposed to forces that don’t always drive us to the right place is key. Being able to recognize when those forces are pushing to an undesirable result is 90 percent of the solution.
Where does this conflict come from?
But first, what do I mean by “the process is riddled with conflicts of interest?” Well, let’s take a closer look at our two main players. On one side, we have a hiring manager under immense pressure to fill an open territory or role. That void inflicts direct damage on their performance as a leader, P&L responsibilities, personal compensation, work load, stress levels, time management and work/life balance. It affects almost every facet of their job and life in some way. On the other side, our candidate is likely trying to get away from their current job because they’re either not making enough to pay for the lifestyle they have or want, failing at their role, can’t stand their manager, or a combination of all 3. All of these circumstances create the same havoc and pain being experienced by our hiring manager.
As human beings, we’re hard-wired to avoid pain. As a matter of fact, the drive to avoid pain is 3 times stronger than the drive to achieve a goal. Add into the equation that our two main players are professional influencers, story tellers, and actors by trade, who have made a career out of convincing people to take action, and now you’ve got a real circus on your hands. This partially explains why leaders are at times prone to let seemingly small and insignificant behaviors exhibited by candidates go. But like most things, the devil is in the details. I would argue that the small signs are sometimes the most important in helping you to avoid PURE hires.
How to recognize when this conflict is getting the best of you…
TOP 4 CONFLICT OF INTEREST WARNING SIGNS:
1. Letting small things go and making excuses for your candidate – This is a warning sign that you’re succumbing to the pressures of an open territory and about to make a mistake. Remember, a candidate’s behavior during the interview process, is the best it’s ever going to be, and anything bad is only going to get 10x worse 3 months from now. A few minutes late to a call, a last-minute cancellation, poorly worded emails, and mistakes on resumes are just a few examples. If you’re allowing yourself to ignore these smaller things, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re ignoring other indicators as well. Its time to stop, take a knee and fairly re-evaluate your candidate.
2. Cutting corners in your interview process – There are and should be many parts of an interview process. F2F interviews with you, your peers, your boss, her boss, committee interviews, ride-alongs, personality evaluations, aptitude tests, hard reference checks, and soft reference checks. These example elements are your friends, and are there to help you avoid painful mistakes. Recognize that the desire to skip a step in your process is usually a symptom of stress rooted in either fear (there will be consequences if I don’t fill this position quickly!) or greed (I can really improve my comp by getting someone in this territory now!), and either one is not a good element to have baked in. Are there situations when you’ll need to call an audible? Sure! Just make sure that it’s for the right reasons.
3. Not listening to your gut – There is an old military saying, “When in doubt, there is no doubt!” Sometimes, when the data doesn’t lead you to clear conclusions, which in itself is a problem, your gut comes into play. There are hundreds of gut idioms and for good reason as there are 9 times more fibers leading from your gut to the brain then fibers leading from your heart, lungs and abdominal organs combined. There are more neurons in your gut then in your entire spinal cord. This is your second brain and when you have a gut instinct then you need to listen. That being said, your gut is just a piece of the decision tapestry in the hiring process, make sure you’re using it in combination with the facts.
4. Letting emotions run the show – Be cognizant of your emotions during the interview process. Everything a candidate is saying is getting you jazzed? Unenthusiastic feedback from a pear is angering you? Questions from others in the process make you immediately impatient and annoyed? These are sure signs that your emotions are running the show more than they should. Many times, you’ve been trying to fill the open spot for so long and have endured so much pain that at one point every thorn in the desert starts looking like a rose. Excessive emotions are a great telltale sign that your better judgment has been compromised. Remember, even Spock can become emotionally compromised!
Remember, just knowing the inherent pitfalls in the process and how susceptible we are to our own needs is far more than half the battle.