One of the easiest ways to discover the true personality of a potential new hire is to get them comfortable and know what to recognize.
The easiest way to do this is to share lunch or, on rare occasions, dinner.
Here is what I look for during lunch:
1. The Small Talk
I always start lunch with some small talk about the person’s interests and tell them some of mine to break the ice and move the conversation from formal to casual.
What are their interests? What do they reference more than once? Do they ask thought engaging, provoking questions?
2. Staff Interaction
I purposefully choose a restaurant that may add stress factors to further differentiate candidates.
How do they react to mistakes from the wait staff? How do they handle general nuisances like noise and crowded spaces?
3. The Meal
How they present themselves is how they will present your company.
Do they order with frugality or choose a more expensive item? Are they present or are they checking their phone? Are their manners appropriate?
4. Team Interaction
On occasion I will bring a current employee of like age, background and interests to further prompt the interviewee to let their guard down.
How do they interact with your staff? What differences exist in their mannerisms with you, the interviewer, and the attending employee? How do they speak about others?
5. The Departure
You want to hire someone who is grateful for other’s time and resources.
Did they thank you for both your time and paying the bill? Did they seek to learn what are the appropriate next steps?
Take Your Time To Hire Well
This methodology has proven itself over the past 25 years and is now a staple to my hiring process.
Prospective employees come with their game face ready to portray the best version of self. It is our job as interviewers to get behind the curtain and figure out exactly who each person is and what they can (and can’t) bring to your company.
So, the next time you are looking to gain real insight to a person in an interview, buy them a meal and watch to see if Dr. Jekyll will become Mr. Hyde.