Just over a month ago, Olivia Bland’s experience in the U.K. with a “stress interview” threw the spotlight on the counterproductive practice. Traditionally, interviewers fire all sorts of “gimmicky questions” at the job applicant in order to test their thought processes in high-stress situations. According to Peter Rubinstein, the goal isn’t to get an exact answer but to see how the job applicant would handle stress in the workplace, typically associated with such tasks as achieving results, meeting deadlines and dealing with difficult tasks.
In this particular interview, Bland was asked a series of questions by the CEO of tech company, Web Applications UK, regarding her music taste and her parents’ marriage. The CEO was alleged to have also attacked her writing skills and posture. Bland was offered the position but rejected, stating that “there is something very off to me about a man who tries his best to intimidate and assert power over a young woman, and who continues to push even when he can see that he’s making somebody uncomfortable to the point of tears.”
We believe the story shows an example of the tension between a new way of thinking and an “old-school” established structure. And the onus is on businesses – including traditional law firms – to address the gulf between our future leaders’ expectations and your firm’s culture. As a talent war continues to develop, those who don’t adapt, won’t attract.
Culture is generally the strongest incentive for prospective talent and a good interview process is a crucial (yet often overlooked) method of sharing your culture.
A job interview is often the first real point of contact between potential talent and your firm. They’ve seen your brand, but they haven’t seen your people. It almost goes without saying that an antagonistic interview speaks to an antagonistic culture, which will drive away talented candidates before you can say “why should I hire you?”
Whether an interviewee passes or not, they will talk about your brand in the community. What great (and free!) branding it would be for your firm if a positive story was shared by word of mouth. With easy access to technology, firms owe it to themselves to keep accountable and ensure that the process of interviews are done well.
Acknowledge that your interview is an advertisement and treat your interviewee accordingly. That means mutual respect, questions that relate to the interviewee’s role and allowing the interviewee to pose questions.
Take hiring seriously. Those whom you hire will determine your future.