Be aware of the “Paper Manager”!

If you have ever recruited a manager, you are probably familiar with the following:
– you receive dozens of CVs
– you delete 50% of them as they are inappropriate (eg.: an electrician from Ghana living in Vienna recently applied to our LinkedIn Job Ad for Career Angels)
– you sift through the rest and discard some more
– you select 10 to actually interview

you already have one or two favourites: steady career background, meet your expectations fully, in short: perfect. Even the profile pictures on Linkedin are very professional.
– you start the interviews
– one candidate disqualifies themselves by being 15 minutes late without offering an apology
– two candidates turn out to have exaggerated their proficient English skills that are absolutely key for that position
– three candidates are OK
– two candidates are a bit too junior but have potential and seem very, very motivated and excited
– of your two favourites:
—-> one is actually perfect.. but too expensive
—-> the other one… well, after the interview you can’t collect your thoughts, “What had just happened?! That was supposed to be one of two top candidates. This was like watching Brazil against Germany.

How often have you interviewed a manager who on paper seemed perfect, but than turned out to be exactly the opposite?

The reasons?
1) actual behaviour vs expected behaviour:
Lack of business etiquette and inappropriate dress code. The overall appearance does not match the class that was communicated in the documents or that you would expect from somebody of their experience and their position.

2) take credit were credit was not due:
During the extended competency-based interview you realize that the person takes credit where credit should not be due: e.g. if somebody has played a minor role in a big project and takes all the credit. That’s just not right.

3) confident with a good sense of humor, generally eloquent, but vague business answers
Interviewer: how did you achieve the 50% sales increase?
Manager: oh well, that was already some years ago. We had this excellent project we were working on for [insert name of a very known company]. You know their CEO XXX? What a fantastic guy! I had lunch…
And you listen to those great stories and anecdotes. But do you actually find out how he increased sales by 50% – no.

It can happen that the interviewer doesn’t even get into talking business as they are blinded by their personality: you click, the chemistry flows, you hire the smile and the firm handshake. And then the disappointment: no performance, no results… though everyone loves him or her.

What should you do to avoid these kind of situations in the first place?

– an intensive competency-based interview by a neutral party
– another interview by a neutral party
thorough reference checks
– obtain a third opinion
discuss it with your pillow

Key message:
All that glitters is not gold. Especially “Paper Managers”!