Monday, 24 October 2016

He shouldn't even have made the shortlist

For some time, I've had jobs that require me to recruit people, and that involves shortlisting and interviewing. It's a process I really enjoy and, without sounding too modest, I have quite a good record in that everyone I recruit seems to turn out okay. Fortunately, I've hired no clunkers. In US parlance, I have an excellent batting average when it comes to recruitment.

Now it seems to me that the US election is a lot like an interview process - Clinton and Trump are the applicants, and there are 319 million people on the interview panel.

A common feature of just about every recruitment I've done in the last ten years is that the advertised post has a job description and person specification - respectively just written descriptions of what the post-holder will have to do and what skills/attributes they need to have. Applications are held up against these documents to do the shortlisting, and then at interview the requirements get drilled into in more depth. You know how it works.

A really good way for a candidate to not get shortlisted, or to fail at interview, is to not demonstrate how they meet the person spec. So for example, there might be a requirement that the applicant has the ability to organise, prioritise and co-ordinate the work of themself and others. And here's the thing - I score a candidate zero for just saying, "Yes, I have experience of that." It's not enough. You need to demonstrate it, show that experience, perhaps by talking through a recent example of doing that, highlighting the tools and techniques you might use. What went well, what you'd do differently next time, that sort of thing.

And so, by extension, if you view the US presidential race as a giant job interview, when being quizzed on your record with respect to women, simply saying "No-one has more respect for women than I do"1 is never, ever going to be enough. And if you don't answer the question, you can only ever be judged by your actions. Oh dear, Donald...

Similarly, a judicious use of buzzwords might get a candidate through shortlisting but should never be enough at interview. So, whilst just saying "Gantt charts" and "Microsoft Office" over and over might be enough for the shortlister to give you the benefit of the doubt on project management experience, it should never be enough at interview. The same goes for just saying "Mosul", "bad hombres" and "ISIS" over and over again.

When you stop to think of it this way, it's incredible that the presidential race is still competitive. Why isn't it effectively over already? Sure, Trump's opinion poll ratings are lagging behind but that tends to happen when one candidate is perceived as unpopular or controversial, due to so-called "shy" voters who are reluctant to commit when surveyed but come out of the woodwork on voting day. Witness the Tory party's outright win at the last UK general election and the triumph of the Brexiteers, despite pre-election polling evidence to the contrary in both cases. Trump supporters have more to be embarrassed about than most, I'd say, so sadly I expect his performance on the 8th of November to improve on his current poll rating.

Anyway, my point. If you have a vote in the US election, please use it, and use it wisely. Vote HRC. And with luck, in four years time, you'll be able to vote for Michelle Obama...

1. A statement indicating an over-inflated or grandiose sense of self and self-importance like this really ought to be indicative of something, I think.

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