Digital Darwinism

I take hiring very seriously. Though it sounds like a platitude, please allow me to elaborate. For a recent marketing position of mine, I looked at 274 resumés, conducted 18 phone screens, had 8 face-to-face interviews, managed 5 group interviews, and hired 1 person. She’s been a great addition to the team. Before I actually speak or meet with a candidate, I do a good deal of research, which I call digital anthropology :

  • Google them
  • Traverse their twitter stream
  • Read their blog
  • Check out their LinkedIn profile
  • Watch their YouTube videos
  • Follow whatever digital trail they’ve cut

Charles DarwinI want to get to know each qualified prospect to ensure that they are compatible with my team. If all my digital anthropology is good, I’ll be able to have a much more productive dialogue. Why do I do this? Because a great hire can transform a group and a company, while a bad one can be deadly. Regardless of the discipline and the vetting, I truly won’t know a person until he or she is aboard. Fortunately, following their digital footprints is critical to my decision process.

And I expect candidates to do at least as much to me.

They’re making a potential career decision and they should determine if I’m someone they’d want to work with. They should be prepared to know me and my company.

This past week, I had the shortest phone interview of my life: 8 minutes.

I currently have an open public relations and communication position. I found a promising candidate who had the right type of resume and some rather impressive media wins. I was very excited about talking to him. Though I did my digital homework and discovered a few gaps, I figured we’d cover those issues on the phone. But first, I wanted to find out if he did his digital homework.

After some cordialities, I asked him about my company’s press coverage (which had been quite good) and I got a very vague answer. Hmm. Did he actually look? This was disconcerting, since this candidate was supposed to be a PR and communications professional. That raised a flag, so I probed deeper and asked him about a major event my company was hosting in New York. The description of the event was prominent on my corporate website, had its own stunning microsite, drove an active social media following, and garnered some nice press coverage.

The candidate didn’t even know about it. That ended the interview: 8 minutes.

I’d like to say this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. In fact, it’s more of the norm. I see this all the time and it really troubles me. Shame on me for being an optimist about future hires. Are so many people this inept? We live in a digital world where everything is a click-away. I’m writing this from a local Starbucks and I have full access to the entire world while I sip my coffee. If you can’t prepare for my interview, then just send me a Starbucks gift card, that way I can be well-caffeinated as I prepare for my next interview with somebody who actually cares.

Rob Ciampa

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