July 29, 2008 | Written by Richard Funess
The whole process of hiring someone is fascinating. For instance, the physical aspect of confronting the prospect, no matter how many times one has done it before, can be very daunting for both interviewee and the interviewer. Potential employees know why they are there. You're facing them, judging them, rating their comments vs. those heard from others applying for the same job. Like professional boxers in the first few rounds of a fight "feeling each other out" until the opportunity comes for the applicant to strike hard with his or her best shot, delivering the strategic superlative--making the statement that turns the interviewee's "choose me" to the interviewer's "this guy's good!"
I began thinking about the numbers of people I spoke to over the years. Literally hundreds. Trying to remember them. Their faces. Their peculiarities. Their stories. Their desperation. Their smugness. Their confidence. How they greeted me -- shook my hand without worrying about holding it for too long or short of time. Their overall body language. And the banter: How many stories I heard as to why they wanted to leave their current job; or for that matter were out of a job and what made that happen? And then there's the reason they moved from city X to region Y-- because of a great opportunity from which they were now dying to exit!
Interestingly enough and more often than not, personal feelings surrounding their lives dovetailed with discussion of professional goals. Many times these revelations tipped the scale one way or another. How they felt about their past co-workers. How would their new job affect leisure time/personal time. How many kids they had, and dogs and cats too!
There were times, I must admit, that I obsessed over the most minute of details in order to make the right choice of a new hire. During luncheon interviews I started analyzing how they ate their food, and used their napkin. I found it important if they smelled of cigarette smoke or faked it by devouring too many breath mints...and did that really matter? I remember a few times thinking about a pretty good applicant sitting there, in a well-ventilated room, oozing copious quantities of perspiration on a very cold winter day. Would he do the same when meeting with a client? Conversely, I was envious of another potential hire who appeared cool as a cucumber when the temperature was in the 90's and we were sitting by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel!
And what happens to the people who don't get chosen? How bruised will their egos be? Will they be vindictive and when they get another job, will they smirk with glee when they hear about your firm losing a big piece of business or better yet, beat your firm in new business competition? For them, the phrase "Choose me, and see what happens", could very well be "Lose me, and see what happens!"