Finding the right executive for the job

Interviewers more concerned about picking wrong person than missing right one
By Ronald Robertson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/31/2010

At their core, interviewers are often more concerned about the risk of selecting the wrong person than missing the right person. In the world of executive selection, the ideal is to reverse this order — an interviewer should first assume she is sitting in front of a prize candidate and, if given evidence to support this assumption, then focus on why the candidate might not be a good fit.

At present, organizations regularly miss out on top talent right under their noses by jumping to negative conclusions too quickly. Even the most experienced do it, rejecting people they consider “not aggressive enough” or “lacking energy or drive to build a company” only to see them go on and be very successful at a competitor.

Interviews are packed with the possibility of error. Simply put, they are artificial discussions. In many instances, they do not and cannot replicate what it is like to work with an individual. At best, all an interviewer can extract is a series of inferences: “Based on the candidate’s responses, I predict he would behave in the following way on the job…”