Curb Appeal

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Just as a good builder would never think of inspecting homes from the cab of his truck, a good hiring manager should avoid curb-qualifying candidates. This occurs more often than we care to admit and in a variety of manifestations. As a hiring manager, it is important to assess your hiring criteria. Do you tend to feel more positive about candidates who: All of these qualities might be desirabl...

December 01, 2005

Just as a good builder would never think of inspecting homes from the cab of his truck, a good hiring manager should avoid curb-qualifying candidates. This occurs more often than we care to admit and in a variety of manifestations.

As a hiring manager, it is important to assess your hiring criteria. Do you tend to feel more positive about candidates who:

  • have a firm handshake
  • dress in a certain manner
  • are attractive
  • are extroverted
  • come from a top performing company
  • attended a certain type of school
  • have a military officer background
  • played sports in college

All of these qualities might be desirable, but don't let them skew your objectivity. Depending on the position, most of these attributes have absolutely nothing to do with whether the candidate can succeed in the job.

Over the past 20 years we've seen numerous instances of companies curb qualifying candidates.

The following represents how not to judge an employee by his or her qualities:

  • The CEO with a preference for tall candidates because they had a more "commanding" presence and therefore were better leaders (his opinion).
  • The hiring manager who watched as candidates drove into the parking lot and made a character assumption based on the vehicle they drove.
  • The builder who ruled out candidates from certain companies because of their business model or reputation. "XYZ Development is a lousy organization. I'm not interested in anyone from that company."
  • The CEO who ruled out a candidate who did not carry herself well and wasn't a sharp dresser. This initial impression overshadowed her stellar experience and skill set as a controller.
  • The client who ruled out candidates who graduated from a specific top-shelf university. This client felt top-shelf graduates expected to ascend the career ladder too quickly and were impatient.

These examples demonstrate how our subconscious preferences come into play during the hiring process. The opposite reaction can occur when a candidate has one or more of your hot buttons. If left unchecked, you might make a decision before gathering all of the facts.

Caution Signs

If you find yourself talking more than listening during the interview, then the candidate might have triggered your hot buttons.

Post-interview comments such as "my gut tells me" or "I liked her immediately" can be false indicators. Focus instead on whether the candidate has succeeded in the past and the likelihood that he or she can replicate that success in the job you need filled.

By taking the time to recognize your hot buttons, you'll be less likely to hire someone for the wrong reasons or prematurely pass on a great candidate.

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