When consider hiring a recent graduate I am not looking for a perfect GPA.
Yes, getting a perfect GPA is difficult, and shows a lot of dedication and intelligence, but each time I see a candidate with one, it prompts a new set of questions. I want to know about times they have failed, challenges which required help, how they have solved problems no-one has ever solved before… anything that shows they don’t freeze up when they encounter difficulty. Schools provides a very structured format where requirements are clear; the real world isn’t like that. It’s messy, and there is no answer key. Sometimes you will fail, and have to have what it takes to brush yourself off, learn from the experience, and move forward.
I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Michael Jordan
Would you ever consider hiring based on their playing of video games? I did, and here’s why. What a person does with their leisure time speaks powerfully to their motivation. Motivation matters, perhaps more than anything else.
Usual interviewing evaluates three areas:
- Can they do the job?
- Will they do the job?
- Can we put up with them while they do the job?
Make your interviews difficult. The (right) candidates want you to.
As much as we may say otherwise, free and easy are not what we want when it comes to a job. We want to be challenged: to know that those we work with will push us to be our best.
How does this relate to interviewing? Simple: if you ask only light and fluffy questions, they will think you are a light and fluffy place to work. Even worse, they will think you (and by extension, the company) are an employer who will let just anyone in the door. If they come to work for you they can expect to have low expectations placed on them, limited or no useful direction or feedback, and have coworkers who aren’t very good at their jobs.
Not really the message you wanted to send, was it?
Instead, ask candidates tough questions. Make them dig deep, work on their feet, come up with novel approaches to challenging problems. They will thank you for it. They will think you are the kind of place they want to work. And since you pushed them to the breaking point and still offered them a job, perhaps they’ll do okay. After all, you know them better than any of the other yahoos who just asked them to walk you through your resume (yawn).
Cartoon thanks to Canary Pete