Fluff is for Marshmallows

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Have you ever interviewed the “Perfect Applicant” only to have the “Not-so-Perfect New Employee” show up on the first day? While some may not have experienced this, the majority have. When I was a new manager working for a rental car company in Gulf Breeze, Florida, my office was de facto training grounds for most new hires. One particular newbie, Jennifer, made an impression on me and not in the most positive way. After the first couple of weeks of primarily sitting around avoiding work, I asked a few questions trying to determine how she made it through a fairly extensive hiring process.

Her eager response? “I snowed them!” While I was happy because it was the first time she had shown any excitement, my enthusiasm dimmed as she continued to boast about how she knew “just what to say” to get the job. In essence, she gave the hiring manager enough fluff to fill a marshmallow jar!

While no one is 100% perfect in hiring decisions, there are some ways to cut through the fluff and focus on the real personality of your applicant. Here are some suggestions that may help:


  • Go beyond the knowledge, skills and abilities and include behavioral based questions to evaluate the applicant and how they will contribute to and embrace your mission, vision, values and culture.
  • Incorporate not only the supervisor in the process, but also consider including some of your team. After training what to say and what not to say to an applicant, your team can provide valuable observations as to whether or not this potential employee can deliver what they promised in the interview. Applicants also tend to relax when they believe that the “official interview” is over and may show their true personality.
  • Consider including a voluntary observation period for the applicant to watch the job that they are going to be doing, as well as the team they will be working with. While some applicants may still take the job because they need the money, a short follow up interview after the observation would allow insight into their thoughts and any objections about the job and duties.


Continue to fine-tune the process, seek an outside opinion if possible and soon the fluff will be minimized to reveal the true applicant. Want to learn more on how to cut the fluff in your talent acquisition? Hamilton Resources will collaborate with you to develop a strong and productive process.


Happy hiring!

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