Knowing is half the battle

by John on June 4, 2012

A few months ago I was part of an interview panel that was charged with finding the next candidate to fill a newly created leadership position. I initially thought that this would be easy as I was a former corporate recruiter who still had “chops”. I felt that I could easily be part of the panel, make a great recommendation and get back to my growing project list.

Nothing was to be further from the truth.

Sure it started out as normal, resume reviews, phone interviews and then the round of face to faces to determine who should be presented to the leadership team. However, there was one member of the panel that had a simple, yet insightful question that made me stop and think more critically about the candidates.

“What do you read in your spare time, how do you stay current about the trends that affect not only your career, but could possibly have an impact on the students you’ll be tasked with interacting with on a daily basis”?

The responses we received were interesting. The pure academicians mentioned the Chronicle of Higher Education, a few mentioned the Harvard Business Review, and others were completely caught off guard by the question as a whole. When we got to the debrief session, our colleague shared the reasoning why they went down that path with the candidates.

As recruiters, we are tasked with making judgment calls about candidates on almost an hourly basis. From resumes, to phone screens, and interviews, we’re always asking questions and comparing the answers. We’re looking for that bit of insight that will tell us if this individual will fit within the team, manage the project and people accordingly.

So while it was no surprise to me the question, the answers that the candidates shared did manage to surprise me.

My colleague (who in their own right is an amazing forward thinker) didn’t want more of the same,but someone who had done a bit of self actualizing and was ready to take on the mantle of leadership.

Did that mean someone who only read scholarly journals and nothing else was out or in? How about the individuals who didn’t read anything short of the local sports page? What about someone like me who tends to read a little bit of everything (trashy fashion mags, Rolling Stone, the HBR, to blogs…) you get the picture?

It was an easy (and maybe oversimplified) way to determine who in the pool was a forward thinker.

I found myself thinking about the question, and what I was reading for the next few weeks after we had completed the process. In the end, it was also one of those self actualizing moments that was going to help me determine if I too was on the right path career wise.

I’m anxiously awaiting for GQ to publish a piece on sweater fashion by Tim Sackett. Then I’ll be vindicated for renewing that subscription.

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Tim Sackett June 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

As you can tell, I try to move fashion forward by moving it back first – retro is always in, especially when it comes to great 80’s sweaters!

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