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A business leader recently interviewed several candidates for a customer service position. All were capable, but the leader said none of them “wowed” him. He asked, “We need to fill the role ASAP, what should we do?” As the question mark appeared at the end of the sentence, my mind was quickly moved back to a conversation I had with a former boss at Starbucks.

He said “The interview is as good as it gets“. That statement changed my perspective. Said another way, what you see is what you get. When a candidate is tardy for the interview and says it was traffic, weather, life, you can bet those same reasons will come up again when they are working for you. When a candidate has little energy in the interview, you can bet you might find them sleeping on the job a few weeks after onboarding. When a candidate is an ace in the interview, and you know that they are “showing up”, the likelihood that this will continue is quite high. You can train for the skills needed on the job, but you cannot train for traits or personality. Communication, integrity, drive, passion, teamwork, energy, etc. are on a continuum. When a candidate sends signals that they are on the lower end of the continuum on any of these skills; it will take energy, coaching, and training to enhance the skill. Do you have the time?

When you have a pressing hiring need your perspective may get foggy and you may make a quick hiring decision. If you do this, have your eyes wide open and know that this may be a shorter term solution and continue to interview. You may believe you can change, fix, or motivate the employee to exhibit the skills needed, this is a 50/50 proposition. If you have ever tried to do this in a relationship you know in the long term it doesn’t work. You may be successful, or you may spend time with little results.

Recruiting is like dating and marriage…think back – WAY BACK! On the first date you want everything to be perfect; you pick out your clothes, clean out your car, and rehearse the answers to “tough” questions. Sounds like an interview?!

Then you move towards the wedding, the “offer” and move in with each other.

Then you have the “honeymoon” phase at work…you know, those are the times you say to yourself “I thought they knew how to…”.

Then you live with their characteristics “long term” or ultimately “divorce”. The long term is when reality sets in, when you realize they squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube or have a messy office.

What’s the point?

The interview is as good as it gets. Don’t hope the behavior will get better or excuse those characteristics that will be an issue later. Pay attention to the signals and make hiring decisions with a clear understanding of the time and energy required to impact future behavior.