Have you ever met with a candidate who had the perfect resume, excellent experience, perfectly-matched skills and said all of the right things in the interview but your gut still said “don’t hire them?” Recently, I was part of a team working on a high-level executive search. We had hundreds of candidates interested in the position but only a few met our hiring criteria. One candidate in particular looked perfect. The resume was a model which could have been used as our job description. In a panel-style interview, this candidate was poised, provided thoughtful answers with brevity and clarity and was completely comfortable with their surroundings. Not a single bead of sweat rolled down their face as they zapped every tough question from the committee of 7. A presentation followed. One of the best we’ve seen. A perfect performance.
When the committee met again to evaluate this person’s candidacy moving forward, after much discussion, we were unsure of whether or not to advance this person to the next round. Even though their interview performance was perfect, the candidate made little connection to the group, the employees or the organization. Ultimately, it just didn’t feel right. Why? We just knew we should follow our instincts.
Erica Ariel Fox, a bestselling author and Harvard Law lecturer may have the answer. In a recent blog, she shares ideas from her book Winning From Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living and Lasting Change, in which she says each of us have “a range of perspectives: different ways we see the world, and voices we use to express ourselves.” She talks about what she calls “The Big Four” and how job seekers can use them to win a job. Click here to read Erica's blog.
What I realized after reading her article was our candidate shared no excitement, no passion, painted no pictures of what success looked like, made no personal connections and shared no commitment to our organization. Basically, we got a solid interview performance with limited passion and certainly no chances of winning an Academy Award, or in our case, a job offer. We were excited to get a thank you note from the candidate. However, in the two simple sentences contained in the email, this person didn’t even ask for the position. It just shows how passion, excitement and drive often trump the perfect resume.