In order to gauge how potential leaders will perform under pressure in his organisation, Ara Ohanian, the founder of software company Certpoint Systems asked finalists competing for critical management roles to get on a plane and take an interview on board. Interviewees are asked to join Ohanian for a six-hour cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles in the business class cabin of a crowded commercial airliner. The real challenge for candidates is to prove that they can endure the difficulties of being trapped in their air with crying babies and stomach-churning turbulence. Besides they need to cope with a series of hurdles – such as flight delays, cramped quarters, etc - in a less structured and demanding environment. According to Ohanian, he is more interested in learning about people’s behaviour. He particularly seeks to monitor characteristics such as humility, comfort in one’s own skin and empathy for, say an overextended restaurant server or a frazzled flight attendant. He argued that this interview tactic: “It gives me an indication of how they will be toward other members of their team. You’re forced to catch them off guard… Their dominant traits start showing”.
Having the final interview with the company’s boss is usually the norm. But for M & E Painting LLC, a commercial and residential painting company in Northern Colorado, the final interview is with the boss’s wife. Before extending a job offer, CEO and founder Matt Shoup asks finalists — and their significant other, best friend or whomever is ‘the most important person in their life’ — to meet with him and his wife, who co-owns the company. This is because Shoup hires people he hopes will stay for a long time and he wants new members of his growing dozen-employee team to wholeheartedly support his company vision. That means the most important person in their life must believe in the company, too. The M & E Painting Company was nominated one of the best US places to work by Inc magazine after adding this feature to the interview process. Apparently, this strategy worked with Shoup admitting that he hasn’t had any employees leave the company because of job dissatisfaction.
Handwriting proves to be an indicator of jobseekers’ personality traits and that’s why Handwriting analysis firm Graphology Consulting group evaluates the scrawling of thousands of job seekers worldwide. The company’s clients including the US Federal Bureau, Interpol, Scotland Yard etc send a short sample of job applicants’ handwriting which is screened by Graphology to check whether it fits the job description. For example, does the person take direction well and pay attention to detail? Are they creative and imaginative? Are they promising leaders? Are they a procrastinator? Do they have integrity? Overall, Graphology’s director says the company’s experts can look at more than 300 personality traits that are uncovered through handwriting. DiMare Enterprises, a family agricultural business in Newman, California, has been using Graphology’s handwriting analysis to help make managerial hires for 25 years, chief executive officer Tom DiMare said. According to DiMare, among the information he’s gained about candidates include how well they handle criticism (watch those wide-looped lowercase d’s; they signal someone who’s more sensitive) and how open they are to people of different backgrounds (a full-looped lowercase e indicates open-mindedness), which is important in farming.
The Chief technology officer at Selectbidder.com, Ken Bodnar is very picky about the web developers and programmers he hires. His new e-commerce company in Canada uses advanced web and mobile software that is not taught at school. Therefore he needs to hire what he calls “trainable monkeys”, that is coders who are smart enough to grasp rapidly changing technology on the fly. In other words, he seeks to figure out if they can think. To eliminate the ‘non-thinkers’, candidates who manage to pass the personal interview go through a 15-minute problem quiz which consists of 15 questions. A question might be something like this: There are 10 birds in a field. Two are shot. How many are left? Answer: None. Shoot at a flock of birds, and they’ll all fly away. Bodnar has been giving this test for two years, and he’s weeded out more candidates who he believes wouldn’t have cut it at the firm. In an industry rife with referrals that aren’t always well-thought-out, this screening tool has been incredibly helpful.
Mike Faith, the CEO of Headsets.com, a provider of office telephone headsets based in San Francisco takes the voices of his customer service representatives very seriously. So much that all job candidates have to go through a phone interview with Australian vocal coach Ken Welsh, before they are given a job offer. Potential hires first take a preliminary Headsets.com phone screen, in-person interview and IQ test and then a ‘vocal test’ with Welsh. The director of Headsets.com strives to find out whether someone speaks too quickly, slowly, loudly or clearly enough. To gauge this, candidates go through a series of linguistic exercises and tongue twisters conducted by Welsh who gives them advice for improvement as they go. If hired, new customer service representatives continue to work with the voice coach if necessary. Faith said he believes the screening process also helps the company keep turnover down.
Gone are the days when recruiters and hiring managers were recruiting solely based on the interview process and the job applicant’s references. Nowadays, a repertoire of thorough credit checks, background checks, skills test, personality tests and a tour of candidates’ social media profiles are only a few tactics hiring managers employ given that UK employers are increasingly facing the risk of jobseekers’ CV lies.
On top of these steps, new and unusual hurdles are largely embraced by hiring managers to screen job applicants and select the best talent in the market. This means that job interviewees should not expect commonplace questions such as ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ ‘What’s your strength?’ ‘What’s your weakness? Etc but far-fetched interview tactics far beyond applicants’ comfort zone.
Scroll through the slides to see five examples of the weirdest job screening techniques that hiring managers used...