How to Hire Top Talent Without an Interview

“Be slow to hire and quick to fire.”

That’s the conventional wisdom in human resources. Take the time to make sure you’ve got the right candidate before making an offer. The result is a lengthy process that starts with a detailed online application and multiple rounds of interviews spread out over weeks. Some companies even augment that with their own special tests that resemble the GMAT or SAT tests, designed to weed out weak candidates.

But Scott Wintrip has a different idea. Scott believes that slow approach does more harm than good.

Scott was a guest on my podcast this week and explained what led him to that conclusion. He said all that time and effort led to work piling up and good candidates being lost to competitors.

When hires were made, some worked out; many did not. Those that failed on the job had excelled during interviews. Our process was a crapshoot.”

Below is an excerpt from Scott’s book, High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant that describes the experiment Scott tried that led him to a better and faster way to attract and hire the best talent, and with a better success rate of those employees working out. In our conversation, Scott went on to explain how the same technique that he tried for hiring salespeople can be used to hire accountants, engineers, nurses, or just about anyone. And he boasts a 90% success rate!

The Interview Experiment

“One day, out of sheer frustration, I decided to try something different. I’d been interviewing a candidate for a sales role. His background was impressive with almost a decade selling telecommunications equipment. Our phone screening went well; meeting him in person was the next stage.

Instead of putting him through our litany of questions during a face-to-face interview, I had him spend our entire time together selling. I introduced him to three people from other companies in our building. He had one task: Sell. All three buyers were open to considering new telecom products. If he didn’t land our sales job, his time was still well spent, giving him three opportunities to grow his current book of business.

In less than 90 minutes, I had my answer. He was not a fit for our job. The guy that showed up on the telephone was different from the salesperson I observed in action.

He had great answers to questions in the phone screening, coming across as warm and affable. However, what he told me about his approach to selling and how he actually sold were different. In the three sales meetings, he was surly and pushy. Not the kind of person who would do well in our company.

Had I followed our process of multiple rounds of interviews, I would’ve had a conceptual experience. The candidate would have continued his tell, sell, and swell. I would’ve spent hours on someone who would’ve interviewed well but become a hiring disaster.

Instead, I’d invested less than two hours between the phone screening and a hands-on interview. I experienced the real person and saw and heard how he behaved when it counts—doing the work. The right decision, not to hire him, was clear and obvious. It was based upon factual evidence of how he performed as a salesperson versus the inaccurate picture he painted on the telephone.

The only question I had after the interview was how to apply this approach to different types of roles. It was relatively easy to let a salesperson sell and experience it being done. I had to develop ways to create real experiences that allowed me to see people in other jobs in action.”

Scott did eventually figure out how to do exactly that. And it turns out, it works just as well for the candidate as it does for the hiring company. That’s because not only does the company get to see how the candidate performs in a work situation, but the candidate gets to see what it’s actually like to work there.

You can learn more about Scott’s approach, his book, and his consulting services at highvelocityhiring.com.

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Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author of the books Lead with a StoryParenting with a Story, and Sell with a Story.

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