Can Candor Predict Interview and Job Success?

How is it that people are brought into an executive hiring situation with high hopes; yet candidates end up eliminated despite their great credentials? 
The Fear Factor
When you go to bed the night before you plan to interview prime candidates, you aren’t praying that you’ll find reasons to reject them.  However, chances are the candidates are lying awake that night fearing you have just that agenda in mind. Dreading rejection, they practice contrived sound bites and structured, stylistic presentations.

What a waste of time. The fact is, if you have selected a candidate for a personal interview, you have already found the person’s credentials as acceptable. As the hiring executive, your take on the upcoming interview is that it will help you assess whether intelligence, communications style and values compatibility are present. Your decision will come down to your impression regarding the candidate’s credibility, which in turn is related to a candidate's confidence.

The Credibility Factor
Confident candidates feel they have nothing to hide, despite a career with ups and downs. They comfortably handle your sensitive questions regarding their less successful experiences. Credibility is not an issue of what they tell has to do with whether the candidates believe what they are telling you. If they do not believe their answers to your questions you will sense that they are bluffing.You may not know what is wrong with their answers, but you will probably conclude that something doesn’t ring true. You may chalk it up to poor chemistry or some other elusive factor when you explain why you decided not to continue discussions.  

So what happened during the interview that changed your mind? It wasn’t the facts of candidates' explanations, and it wasn't their word choices. It was your discomfort and sense that they themselves don’t believe what they are telling. In cases where you are uncomfortable with a candidate’s manner in an interview, you aren’t likely to hire the person. 

On the flip side, confident candidates can stumble over their words, disclose a failing or failure, or otherwise come across as less than smooth--but their candor will carry them. When they believe clearly what they are telling you, you feel more comfortable, and are more likely to continue on with their candidacies.

Here are some additional tips that can improve your chances of hiring the right executive:
  • Involve multiple, skilled and informed interviewers 
  • Perform reference and background checks
  • Seek outside counsel from industrial psychologists and executive search firms

A Foolproof Approach?
Can candor and credibility on the part of the candidate predict success on the job?  It is not a guarantee. There may be times when a person is hired for all the right reasons... credentials, obvious intelligence, shared values and confidence.  But still your good "fit" fails. Why? Consider that if the believable candidate you hired lacks self-knowledge, then they may strongly believe their confident assertions to you, yet be kidding themselves about their pasts. 

*photo with permission: &David Castillo Domininci