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Coffee shop interviews reveal soft skills

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A study of nearly 9000 HR professionals by LinkedIn on global recruiting trends has revealed that innovative new interviewing techniques are necessary to reveal candidates’ soft skills.

As Richard Nisbett, professor of social psychology, eloquently puts it: “When it comes to choosing a candidate, traditional interviews are as much use as flipping a coin.”

Sure, “old-school” interviews are still part of HR’s remit, but it is becoming increasingly apparent they are a poor indicator of soft skills. Casual settings such as a café or restaurant are gaining favour for face-to-face job auditions.

Such informal backdrops can be a great indicator of how a candidate behaves in an unexpected situation.

One person who subscribes to this view is Charles Schwab CEO, Walt Bettinger. He often invites prospective candidates to breakfast and then asks the restaurant to mess up their orders. In this way, he can find out how well they handle adversity.

“Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It’s just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head,” Bettinger said as part of the LinkedIn survey.

Other unorthodox interview venues are also being trialled by adventurous companies. Carmaker Daimler invites candidates for a spin in a Mercedes, while French advertising firm Havas Worldwide takes prospective employees up on – believe it or not – a Ferris wheel.

LinkedIn predicts that such innovative interview approaches will continue to crop up – providing a different perspective to the final decision-making process not afforded by traditional interviews.

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