Wanted: Scone Cold Professional

Sticks and scones may break your bones but bad hires will get you fired. That may be a tad dramatic, but recruiting really is serious business and so are good scones for that matter. Let’s review how to take your interviewing skills to the next level.

It’s all about the people. Sorry for the tired cliché but selecting the right talent is undeniably paramount to our success as well as our sanity as leaders. Below are common challenges I’ve encountered over the years as well as ideas to assist hiring managers with avoiding painful pitfalls.

First, don’t be over-confident about your interviewing skills. No really, you are not half as good as you think you are; that’s the place to start. While you may have had successful hires, nobody is immune from recruiting mistakes. Taking a humble approach, you are more likely to do the extra work to get it right instead of using the ever-popular but dicey wing it method.

If you lack a proper interviewing system and are primarily using your gut to make decisions, then you could be a biased interviewer that is unconsciously picking people that you presume to be the most like you, my self-admiring friend.

As amazing as you are, your organization may require team members with complementary strengths to yours in order to be more successful.

Let that thought marinate for a second. Creating a system well before you have an open position will save valuable time in the future when your focus is fractured due to managing the additional tasks that accompany an open position.

The Interview Plan:

  1. Force yourself to do some pre-work. Make a list of interview questions from the job description and what success looks like for the position. Basic behavioral-based questions are not enough; thoughtful preparation is key to better define the nuances required for the role.
  2. If you are a field-level leader, then ask your regional manager for another perspective on your questions before interviewing. This simple step ensures alignment of goals which will help you put the best candidates forward instead of learning by trial and error.
  3. Remember to ask everyone the same questions in order to make meaningful comparisons between candidates. This seems obvious; however, managers using the fly by the seat of one’s pants method become notoriously sidetracked. Some applicants are much better prepared than the interviewer and end up running the conversation altogether.

Common Pitfalls:

Understand your own personality profile and seek to counter balance your natural biases with interview partner(s) that have different perspectives than yours. Remember that the goal is to improve the business with this hire and while there are a host of factors to consider regarding the culture of the company and team dynamics, leaders should be leery of creating a gene pool so narrow that a disparity of opinion is never heard. P.S. Hair color is not a meaningful difference. 

  • Don’t lead the interview with questions based upon what you believe the previous candidate lacked in skills. It’s common to over-compensate out of fear of repeating a perceived mistake but you may miss other important items by fixating on a past challenge that has little merit for concern in the present. Ponder what the business needs and then put those requirements in the center of the questions that you are building.
  • Please don’t be tempted to discuss the previous manager with candidates. If asked, then say something like, Bob was a valued member of the team that made many important contributions. We are all wishing him the very best. That’s it. The interview should remain focused on discovering the specific skills of the individual in front of you and how that will benefit your business, not rehashing Bob’s tenure. Bob is ancient history and you are writing the next chapter.
  • If your candidate does not get through upper management or the designated check-and-balance, then rethink your interview questions. While it stings to have it pointed out that you have missed something, thank the person that likely saved you from future angst. Your ego may be smarting in the moment but trust the wisdom of more senior members of your team.
  • Don’t forget to own your part. To put it more directly, you may have been part of the issue or reason the manager resigned. Self-awareness and an openness to feedback will serve you well as honing management skills will only make your future teams more successful.

It is prudent to remember that the interview is a two-way street and hiring managers should be suitably prepared. If it has been years since you have had to interview for a job then brush up on your empathy skills because it can be stressful and challenging. Be prepared and do your absolute best in the interview process because once an applicant is hired, then your future is pretty much set in scone.



Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Scones, from King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook

Bittersweet chocolate chips and roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts were added to the sweet scone recipe.

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.

Published by HIRED GUN.