Joan Garbo
Joan Garbo & Associates
Copiague, NY

Most employers have had the experience of going through an extensive hiring process of interviews, personality testing, checking references and then finally choosing what appears to be the “perfect” candidate for the job, only to be disappointed after the person has been on the job for several months.   The employer reviews the interview process and wonders “What did I miss?  What went wrong?” 

While it may appear that the candidate changed after securing the job, the truth is people don’t really change.  They may be adept at hiding their weaknesses or compensating for them for a short duration, and as they relax into their new position, they “reveal” themselves.

Why a candidate doesn’t turn out to be as good as one had expected him/her to be, is a complex issue.  To begin to unravel the problem, one should begin with a tool of distinction: being a coach vs. being a manager.   An employer must wear both hats and must know when to wear which one.

The focus of the coach is to find the right job for the person; the focus of the manager is to find the right person for the job.  During the interview process, the employer must be able to switch hats to see if the candidate is a fit in both categories.

As manager, the employer needs to be clear what are the minimum skills and demands of the job are, and the personality traits necessary, including integrity, communication and relationship skills, leadership qualities, and work ethics.  This is a relatively simple procedure and is the primary focus of the interview process.  Most employers are well trained and experienced in researching the candidate’s history and culling information during the interview process.

However, too many employers forget to put on the coach’s hat during the hiring process since “finding the right job for the person” appears to be the job of the candidate.  While there is truth to that, it is also necessary for the employer to explore this aspect.

Finding the right job for the person requires tapping into the candidate’s passion for the work itself.  Candidates can be trained in interview skills just as employers can be.  But expressing one’s passion for their work is not so much a function of training as it is tapping into the natural desires of the candidate.  As Studs Terkel said, “Most of are looking for a calling, not a job.  Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirit.  Jobs are not big enough for people.”  This does not mean that one must have a career of saving lives or the world at large.  It does mean that when one has work that one recognizes as making an impact on the quality of life for people, in any fashion, then the work that one does is elevated and recognized as important.

When you tap into the passion of another, immediately you will see a shift (even if ever so subtle) in the person’s energy and body language.  It’s as if a spark has been ignited.  Questions that seem to illicit such a response include asking someone what he/she would do for a career if money were not a factor in life.  While not everyone is fortunate enough to have the talent or resources to be able to follow their ultimate dream, everyone can find work that gives expression to the same qualities.  For example, while one may not have the voice, talent and charisma to be a rock and roll star, there are numerous careers in the music industry that will give one the sense of satisfaction of being involved and vicarious experiences that are in themselves satisfying.  Most everyone has some form of work they do that is so engrossing to them that they lose track of time, and without causing them any stress.  It’s not the work itself but the nature of the work that is the source of the energy and passion.

Since the focus of the coach is to find the right job for the person, and the manager to find the right person for the job, the two can be blended in the interview process.  A candidate may be a great asset for the company, but in a position different from the one for which they applied.  Successful interviewers are willing to look at candidates from the viewpoint of where the right fit occurs in both categories.   

Joan Garbo
Joan Garbo