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Playing your way onto the bus

Listening to my business friends this weekend and several others in my sphere discuss hiring and workforce development, you would have to conclude that the interview process is a crap shoot at best. No one seems to believe that you can really tell whether a person will work out based on the interview. This concerns me as someone who believes Jim Collins’ maxim that great companies get “the right people on the bus.”

I also noticed that everyone’s true colors came out in a game of Mexican dominos. Some people love to win as long as they see a way to win. Once defeat is more probable, they quit or lose interest. Some were quiet and cautious. Others were ready to tell everyone how to play and when to play.

One of the great benefits of sports and other games is that they reveal true personalities in a hurry. The pressure of competition amplifies one’s approach to life. And we love sports figures for that reason. Rarely do you find superstars wildly different off the court from their on field persona.

Many businesses understand this and interview their candidates outside the office. And that’s my suggestion, play with your candidates in games other than the interview game. I am easy-going yet in a game I intensely focus on winning. Laura is more competitive than me or my sports star son. An interview wouldn’t reveal any of those facts.

When you combine some personality assessments with the position requirement as part of workforce plan you can readily identify the traits necessary for success. If you can take the time to play some games with your candidate, you can allow them to play their way onto or off the bus. Call it the Sawyer effect, as Dan Pink identified in Drive, where you turn play into work.

One caution, one round of golf, tennis, Madden soccer, or poker is not enough. Play a few games and change your line up so you can then see how they respond. This will be the case where playing games at work may be the best investment you make.

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