Obama / McCain: What Your Candidate Selection Says About You

William Tincup William Uranga

Ap_photostephan_savoiaThe_associated_pressThe 2008 U.S. presidential elections remind me of the Google selection process: long, arduous, detailed, curious criteria, etc.. The difference is the Obama and McCain know their interview concludes November 6th. Until then, you can tune it out or up your vitamin regimen to keep up with all the twists and turns.

The presidential candidates have also been recently running their own interview too, albeit on a comparatively shorter timeline. Obama and McCain’s first major decision isn’t on policy, but who will be their vice president. The pick of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin add new dimensions to the Obama and McCain teams. Why they were selected will be debated. The proof of a good or bad selection will be known soon enough.

In a similar way, your hiring manager or client will make their biggest decisions in the hiring of a candidate to be their “running mate”. True the position may not have “vice president” in the title, but if you’re on point for the hire, your success is also tied your client’s.

Here are some things to have in sync with your hiring manager:

Agree on process – You will have enough variables with all of the candidates that need to be vetted. Don’t add needlessly add to the mix. Draw up a selection process, a sourcing game plan and a timeline first.
Hire for compatibility in values – How things actually get done is a quick definition of culture. The candidate and the hiring manager need to have this in common or be willing to bridge the differences. All the talent and experience come to a grinding, debilitating halt otherwise.
Pick your advisors carefully – These are who you are letting influence your selection. It should cover areas (be it skill, culture, or experience) that you don’t have or aren’t as strong as the organization needs.
Ignore the pundits – They’d love to be the advisor group, but they don’t have a stake in your success.
Shorten the shopping list or litmus test – It means you’re giving in to the pundits or you’re not really certain what you need. Either scenario unduly limits candidate options. As the client, you should know what needs to be done in the role for which you’re hiring. As the recruiter, you should know the possible combinations of talent and where to find them.

Here are additional thoughts on the picking of a running mate from non-recruiters:

Timothy Burn
Rand In Repose (note: this post discusses things from the interviewee, but is also applicable for the interviewer)
Marc Andreesen

No matter what your political views are or who you are going to vote for in November, we can all elect to improve the selection process. It says a lot about your client. It says a lot about you.