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I'm hiring. I work for a progressive, fun startup and we're planning to utilize a local tried-and-true method to "weed in" the good candidates:

The Applicant Party.

Essentially, get them all together after hours with many of their future coworkers (this is key), and then make them think on their feet, both socially and in work simulations. No one is invited that is not already vetted through resumes and phone calls, so it is not a blind open-house atmosphere.

Read more about the local history here:
[url]http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m5092/is_5_23/ai_55306959/print[/url]

Has anyone else done this, and what are your thoughts on the concept?

Thank you, and hope everyone is having a good week.

bflynn's picture

This sounds rather unusual and gimmicky. In most environments, I would question whether it could be effective. Does it really select the best candidates or does it ensure all candidates are alike? (you'll draw a lot of high-Is, but very few Cs) However, if your company has used it in the past and it seems to work, I'll bow to experience while maintaining healthy skepticism.

I'm not sure how I would react to this as a candidate. I'm about 50/50 when it comes to introvert/extrovert, but I could see this being a real turn off to someone who is quieter. Still, I might view this as a little too much in the "Drink the Kool-Aid" category.

Brian

rthibode's picture

When I hire, I pre-screen with letters & resumes, then conduct group interviews. The procedure is not as purely social as the one you describe.

Applicants work in small groups to assess short videos and scenarios, then present their findings to the larger group. Observers take notes at every stage. The skills we watch for are very job-relevant. They need to be able to see multiple perspectives on a situation, they need to encourage group members to share their views, they need to take a leadership role without being overbearing, and they need to NOT try to sound like the smartest person in the room.

Since the job involves interacting with other humans in large groups, this approach works well. I do hire more outgoing people, because they tend to be more effective in this type of work.

In your situation, it seems like you're looking more for fit with the work environment than for fit with the job skills. I'd echo Brian's question -- are you losing out on diversity?

akinsgre's picture

First, I'm a fan of Auditions for people who are going to be required to do things that are "audition-able" skills.

Johanna Rothmann (author of Hiring Technical People) has written much about this on her blog http://www.jrothman.com/weblog/labels/audition.html

Second, I was just reading an article about MBTI that referenced a study indicating that extroverts are better developers because they're more likely to engage with customers and other people on the team. Homogeneity notwithstanding, perhaps you should weed out introverts.

Make sure the interviews are consistent so you can compare data. Social situations probably provide challenges to collecting good data on the candidates.

Also, audition for the skills people need. If fitting is more important than technical competence, then maybe this is a good approach.

misstenacity's picture

Well, I am a high-C and I was successfully brought into the fold through one of these things, so the method definitely works for most types of people. I then attended at least a dozen more over the years to hire new teammates and the experience has left me excited to use it at my new company.

Truly introverted wall-flower types are difficult to read anyway, and might do just as 'badly' in a traditional interview.

Also, it does not hurt that every party we had served alcohol which kept the conversations a little bit more flowing.... :D

bflynn's picture

[quote="misstenacity"]Well, I am a high-C and I was successfully brought into the fold through one of these things, so the method definitely works for most types of people. I then attended at least a dozen more over the years to hire new teammates and the experience has left me excited to use it at my new company.

Truly introverted wall-flower types are difficult to read anyway, and might do just as 'badly' in a traditional interview.

Also, it does not hurt that every party we had served alcohol which kept the conversations a little bit more flowing.... :D[/quote]

Don't confuse introvert/extrovert with DiSC. My impression is that a high-C tends to be a quiet engineer type, there are many extroverted high-C people.

My point was questioning whether the social party is selecting people who are best for the job or selecting people who fit best with existing employees. There is an overlap, but the two are not the same. It would be a shame for your company to lose value by passing on hiring a great person because they prefer quiet evenings at home as opposed to lively interactive parties.

Fortunately, the value loss from a false negative is relatively small compared against the true positive.

Brian

misstenacity's picture

[quote="bflynn"]My point was questioning whether the social party is selecting people who are best for the job or selecting people who fit best with existing employees. There is an overlap, but the two are not the same. It would be a shame for your company to lose value by passing on hiring a great person because they prefer quiet evenings at home as opposed to lively interactive parties.

Fortunately, the value loss from a false negative is relatively small compared against the true positive.
[/quote]

Point taken, Brian, and I agree. Thank you for your input.

Mark's picture

Yep. I've seen them done, and don't like them. I wouldn't do one.

Yes, I've seen them turn out good results, but I'm not sure that those results were the result of the process. There was no clear understanding on the part of the hiring company WHY this process led to better results, other than it was different than what they used to do, and what they used to do didn't work.

Well, now.

I think you'll end up hiring friendly, clever, attractive and energetic people. If that's what you want, bravo!

Let us know what you do and how it turns out.

It's good to be back.

Mark

kklogic's picture

We don't put applicants in a social setting in a group - however, we do put the final candidates in a social setting when we're down to a couple. When we have not taken this additional step - it's been disasterous.

Our business model requires a lot of interaction and if it doesn't click on this level, this person won't work well for us. Again, this might be due to our business model more than anything.