It was getting late, it was friday night about 18:40 p.m and the office of my Staffing Agency was closing for the weekend.
I had to submit a short-list of candidates — customer service consultants — to the client for the next monday.
There were still four candidates to be interviewed and until then I had not found the right fit for that position.
I was tired, I needed a break and unexpectedly, I thought to take them out to dinner at the new Argentine Restaurant near the office called “Mishiguene”, obviously at my expense.
I basically wanted to spend more and right time with them trying to evaluate their attitudes and personalities in a less formal environment. I wanted to pay a special attention to their social skills, fundamental requirement to cover the position.
I tell you this story because sometimes we have to break the rules and go beyond, experiencing new ways of doing recruiting, getting out of our comfort zone.
The informal context was so useful for the recruiting process, infact during the dinner one of the restaurant’s staff carlessly messed up the order of one candidate and I could see how this one responded and how the others gave tips to handle the misunderstanding.
It helped me to see more in depth how they dealt with obstacles in ordinary life.
This unconventional setting gave me the opportunity to observe how candidates really thought and acted. Were they hyper-competitive ? Were they polite to the waitstaff ? How did they handled themselves in a social situation outside of work? How did they acted if a waiter messed up their order ?
While this might seem irrelevant to their overall job performance, you need to remember that you are hiring people, and people cannot be compartmentalized. It doesn’t matter how amazing someone is at their job. If they are rude and difficult to work with outside the office, they will be equal in the work environment.
So, instead of trying to hire people based on the information you got from the formal interview process, you should emphasize time spent getting to know the applicants at dinners, lunches or more casual get-togethers.
Hiring for a specific skill can all too often lead you to hire people who aren’t really the best fit for your company, so you should try to look more for the most compatible person with your company’s stage and DNA, and the candidate’s ability to learn and act in the ordinary life rather than any pre-existing skill set or past job experience.
Today employers want to hire staff who embrace and genuinely care about their company vision and culture. Key factors in personal life of candidates are often key factors at work that lead to their professional success.
Originally published at medium.com