October 05, 2005 - Interviews in a Blink

Malcolm Gladwell, in Blink, tells a story about how some students were asked to evaluate their teacher after a semester.

Then some other students were asked to watch a one hour video of that same teacher and they gave him essentially the same evaluation as the students who had sat with him for a whole semester.

The researchers repeated the experiment only showing 1 minute of video. Same evaluation. 10 seconds. Same.

I have a theory that you can tell whether an interview candidate will get the job by watching 10 seconds of video of the interviewer.

In the vast majority of interviews, I find myself sitting back in my chair asking the candidate to explain his answer. But every now and again, I find myself sitting on the desk next to the candidate, drawing boxes, waving pens around and talking animatedly.

We hire those people.

Posted by Kevin Lawrence at October 5, 2005 01:30 PM

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I agree with your theory, but I don't think it's a useful theory. It's easy to recognize the "hire on the spot" candidates, as you say. The difficult and interesting question is, What do you do if none of those apply for a job? Or those who do turn down your offer and go elsewhere? Or you need to grow faster than you can find these people? Of the rest of the people, how do you distinguish those who would add the most to your team? Or do you not hire any of them, and just not grow your team? Sometimes that's not an option. I've interviewed hundreds of people in the last ten years and I don't have an answer to these questions.

Posted by: Lawrence Kesteloot on December 22, 2005 12:41 PM

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