George Ammar | On Hiring: Screening a Candidate
For as long as George Ammar can remember, the interview or screening process plays out this way: an applicant is called for interview at the office; the interviewer asks a set number of questions; the applicant answers according to what they rehearsed (as best they could); the applicant and the interviewer shake hands, and the interviewer will say something like, “We’ll just give you a call.” End of interview. This scenario pretty much summarizes the screening process, and this has been going on for decades. Image Source: wallstrettmojo
This process may have been effective in the past, but George Ammar believes that it’s not as effective today as it was before. What employers must recognize is that working dynamics have changed, thanks to the digitization of everything. For one, technology; the internet, social media, and e-commerce have greatly influenced public behavior. Technology, for all its good intentions, has drawn a very thin line between what is acceptable and intolerable. Everyone simply has an opinion about everything, and they’re not shy about voicing this out.
This brings George Ammar to the first technique he recommends for screening applicants…
1. Use technology to test the applicant’s soft skills
Technical skills can be taught, but soft skills are, for the most part, inherent. The effectiveness of one’s communication skills, plus compassion, resilience, perseverance, leadership, problem-solving, flexibility, and interpersonal relations are all determined by a person’s soft skills. Software programs and technology tools are available today to help you assess an applicant’s soft skills. These are generally in the form of surveys and tests (using different scenarios) that the applicant can answer online. This saves you time as you can already see those who ‘deserve’ a second interview, says George Ammar.
For George Ammar, interviews don’t really show you the kind of stuff that an employee is made of. This is only revealed when the employee is already in the thick of things, so to speak. On that note, you could consider immersion as part of the screening process. Think of it as allowing the applicant to intern for the company but instead of giving them a couple of months, test them for a few days, a week at most. You’d have to make arrangements with the HR though so that the applicant will be paid during the immersion process.
3. Make the interview informal
A person’s true character shows up in the day-to-day. In a formal interview setup, the applicant will naturally be on their best behavior, and every little thing is calculated. Allow the applicant’s personality to come to the surface by having an informal interview at a casual setting like a restaurant perhaps or a coffee shop. This way, you can catch a glimpse of how the applicant conducts himself or herself in a social setting. While the applicant may still be on their best behavior, certain “trigger factors” could elicit a knee-jerk reaction, says George Ammar. Check to see how they interact with the waiter, for instance. Was the waiter rude? How did the applicant respond to this?
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the age-old tradition of formal interviews, but it would help if you can also shake things up a bit.