Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong?

Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong?

It has been reported that “81% of people lie or bend the truth in their resumes and when being interviewed”. (Schwantes, Unknown) Candidates can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

Are you tired of sifting through resumes and conducting tireless interviews only to find out 2 weeks after hiring someone that they are the wrong fit?

When we are recruiting someone to fill a role in our company or team we are looking for the best available talent. So are our processes actually identifying talents or are we just testing how good people can write a resume, interview and tell stories?


What do sports coaches, dance company’s, symphony orchestra’s, music labels and art galleries have in common when they are recruiting new people?

They conduct auditions and trials.

How do builders, plumbers and other craftsman recruit people?

They conduct apprenticeships.

So, why don’t companies and teams place potential employees through real-life situations, such as auditions or apprenticeships, when recruiting?

Let’s take a look at how you can reduce the opportunity to hire a talker rather than a walker.

When recruiting, we need to be able to assess the following:

  • Behavioural characteristics
  • Skill level
  • Values compatibility
  • Team cohesion
  • Complimentary skills to improve team performance

Audition’s, trials and apprenticeships allow you to test the candidate’s ability to perform the kinds of tasks that they are likely to tackle in a typical day. They allow you to view multiple skills, see how they work, how they prioritise, what they do when faced with challenges and you can interact with them in a work situation. It is a great way to safeguard your company or team against those who are good at bluffing their way through a situation or interview. (Smyth, Unknown)

Auditions need to be appropriate to the role recruiting for. If you are recruiting for a role that requires a lot of collaboration and management, then it might be more useful to bring all key candidates into the same room and set a group puzzle solving task. Whereas if you are recruiting for a role like a journalist, you could set them a highly technical brief and observe how they tackle challenge in a role-playing type situation.

In a group audition, try placing the candidates into groups of 4-6 people, provide them with a puzzle, and then sit back and enjoy. You will see their personalities shine through as they will naturally showcase their leadership, teamwork, working style and coping ability. At the end get them to present to the other group/s and then provide an opportunity for the group/s to provide feedback on the project and the process they went through to solve the puzzle.


Conducting a group audition allows you to reduce the total time of the recruitment process. It also provides observations on how people react in unique, awkward and pressure situations.

If you are completing individual auditions, then you need to establish an efficient process, to ensure that you get the best value for your time. Role-playing is a great way to achieve this. It gives you the opportunity to test both technical and soft skills. You get to explore the candidate’s ability to analyse, solve puzzles, think critically and present.

The audition process allows you to reduce the element of risk. You can really hone in on the skills you are looking for rather than trying to decipher through the candidates reflection of previous stories or even making up an answer. (Smyth, Unknown)

Interviews can deceive your analysis of a candidate’s performance potential. For many people, the interview process takes them into an unnaturally uncomfortable position. This may affect their non-verbal cues such as eye contact, handshake strength and ability to control nerves. You need to make sure your judgement is based on the actual skills required in the role they are applying for rather than the “first impression” soft skills. (Smyth, Unknown)


It is valuable to develop a meaningful measuring system to ensure all aspects of the audition are analysed effectively. You need to accurately measure and score against the skills required in the role. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the audition is based on simulations or every day work rather than a once in a lifetime crisis-type event. (Smyth, Unknown)

Some other ways to effectively assess your candidates (Lipsey, 2017; Musser, 2017):

  • Two-step role playing – Challenge their reflection & response to feedback
  • Creativity tests – Observe how candidates navigate the unexpected
  • Feedback/self Improvement – Assessing the vulnerability of a candidate
  • Paid trial period – Short-term commitment
  • Trial day – Place them into the work environment for a day
  • …athon – Set a task that requires work related skills, open it up to the market and create a competition out of it.

It’s time to find amazing talent, rather than good actors. How are you hiring?


Lipsey, R. F., (2017). Hiring A+ Candidates for Your Start-up How to Sport a Learner. The Huffington Post. Link

Musser, J., (2017). Transforming Interviews into Auditions. Sales Potential. Link

Schwantes, M., (Unknown). The Job Interview Will Soon Be Dead.  Manuseto Ventures, Inc..Link

Smyth, G., (Unknown). Do Audition-Style Interviews Really Work? Seek Insights & Resources Australia. Link


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