The Interview Is A "Decisional Meeting"

By: Michael Hostetter


Most people are hard pressed to explain what an interview is and how it is conducted, but those same people understand what a "decisional meeting" is and what must happen in one. Tremendous amounts of money can be wasted each year because there is a lack of understanding of the true purpose of an interview. That purpose is to make a decision.

In order to make a decision in the hiring process, the company's responsibility is to ascertain the answers to two questions. It is important to know the answers to the questions so that you know what questions to ask. There are only two answers to the questions. They are: "Yes" and "Anything else". Anything that is not a "Yes" is a "No". It may be a temporary "No" or a permanent "No", but if it is not a "Yes" it is a "No".

Failing to get definitive answers to two questions during the time of meeting with a candidate means that the company's time and money have been wasted. What are the questions? The first one is: "Is this person qualified to do the job?" This one can only be answered if proper preparation has been made to determine the qualifications necessary to do the work for which the person is being considered. It is important to gain an understanding of whether all the skills being sought are compatible with what exists in the real world. Many questions may be asked to determine the answer to the question, but all of those questions should lead to getting the answer to this one question and its corollary. This question is a matter of technical abilities to do the work.

It has been said that there are only five things that can be changed in a job. If all five are being changed when moving from one company to another, then the person should be willing to make the change for a cut in pay because the person is not qualified to do the job. Likewise, if the person is totally qualified and already doing the work for which he/she is being considered, the only reason for making the change is money. Therefore, the company will have to be prepared to throw large amounts of money at the desired person to accomplish the hire.

The second question is: "Can I see this person doing the job at my company?" This is a question of cultural match. Company culture can be a valid qualifier in the hiring process. It is not an excuse for discrimination. Obvious hiring mismatches occur when considering a highly autocratic person for employment in a fully implemented team-concept company. Another obvious hiring mismatch could occur if considering a person who is creative, but messy, for employment in a company where neatness is considered a sign of organization and effectiveness. Remember that, when making a decision, the only options are: "Yes" and "Anything else". Anything else is a "No". It may be a permanent "No" or it may be a temporary "No" but it is still a "No".

By the way, there is one other question that must be asked. But, that question should never be asked unless the answers to the first two are "Yes". The third question is: Can we afford to bring this person on board? Afford takes into consideration more than just money. Affording a person sometimes means getting creative with titles like "Associate Process Manager" when trying to get around the problem associated with the fact that the person doesn't have a degree and yet has been a manager in the past. In this case the person may not have people management responsibility but can be given responsibility to manage a process. "Afford" may force the company to consider whether the person can be brought in without adverse affects on the salaries of the people already in the company and doing similar work.

In the decisional meeting, it is important to determine who has the authority to make the decision. Others may provide input to the person making the decision, but there can only be one decision maker. Usually the decision maker is the person whose career is most directly affected by the success or failure of the hire. The decisional meeting also focuses accountability onto the hiring team. The recommendations are either to hire (yes) or not to hire (no). There is no third option by which a person can abdicate responsibility for making a decision and thus avoid the reason for being part of the interviewing team.

Changing the time spent with a prospective employee into a "decisional meeting" clearly defines the responsibility in the minds of the interviewing team, saves time, therefore saves dollars, and should increase effectiveness.