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What's "Like" Got To Do With Interviewing?

by Beth Deison Smith

posted in Business

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Last week while working with an interview team of 6 people, I asked them what they thought about a particular candidate, and 1 by 1 they all said "I like him, but." So, I asked them, "What's Like got to do with it?" We all laughed. While the moment was humorous to all in attendance, the point was real. We so often interview and then hire based predominantly on whether or not we like an individual.
When you hire someone to work for you, you really do not have to like them. You have to trust that the work will get done accurately and timely by your employee. You have to have faith that your clients will be well cared for and that their needs will be met by the team of people you hire. You have to be able to walk out the door and know that your new hire will take very good care of your customers. But like them? That is just a bonus.
So why is it that when we interview someone we begin with like? The short answer is that we really do not know how else to evaluate someone. When we meet someone for the first time in our personal lives, we often look for similarities and common ground. We look for people like us with the similar interests. When we hire someone, we often use this same criteria. I challenge that we need to begin to instead look for someone who can and will do the job that we need for them to do. Our employees should be trust worthy, capable, open to learning and accountable. Likeability may later come as a result of their work performance but it should not be where we start. Interviewing for friends versus employees are two very different mind sets.
So, next time you interview someone, do not ask yourself if you like them. Ask yourself if the work will get done effectively and efficiently. Ask yourself if your clients will be happy with them. Ask yourself if you can leave your company and they will continue to work with integrity. Evaluate your interview process to make sure you are asking questions that help you gauge these critical soft skills.
If you have resounding yeses on all three questions, then hire them, whether you like them or not. Base you choice for a new employee instead on their ability to accomplish the job duties and I promise you will at least "like" what they do for your company.
About the Author: For more information about empowering yourself to hire better employees, visit
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