Saturday, 27 September 2014

Ever been interviewed by a bus driver?

When preparing for an interview, many people focus on having prepared answers for how they deal with challenges, how they maximise their experience and how they articulate what they can bring to the new organisation.

These are all important things. Equally, employers have interview questions prepared to get these answers and perhaps also have a few psychometric tests in reserve to identify the most suitable candidate.

Having done a good few interviews over the years and seen this in action, I was impressed by an article in the Wall St Journal which took a simpler and perhaps a more insightful view on screening candidates.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh explained how they use the shuttle bus driver as a key part of the recruitment process. Many of their candidates come from out of town and they send the company shuttle bus to collect them at the airport. There is usually a full day of interviews before they are dropped back to the airport. Before any decision is made on hiring, the recruiter gets a report from the shuttle bus driver. Regardless of the formal interviews, if the bus driver wasn’t well treated, the candidate does not get the job.

What Zappos are doing here is gauging how well people interact with others in a real world setting, not some lab based personality test. The same idea could be applied by asking the receptionist how a person behaved when waiting to be called in or asking an administrator how the person acted when finalising the interview times, contact numbers etc.

As an employer this can compliment the more formal aspects of the recruitment process and perhaps cut through some of the prepared answers to get a real insight into the candidates social skills. As a candidate, be aware that you are always under scrutiny, even if it is the receptionist or bus driver asking the questions.

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