Why I use the speed dating method to recruit employees

As a senior manager, I receive dozens of resumes from qualified candidates, but I’ve chosen a new method to analyze newcomers, testing whether they possess five key traits

Elon Ganor 12:1701.12.20
It’s an established fact that one of the most important tasks of CEOs and managers is to recruit and maintain quality employees. In tech companies a sharp market focus is incredibly important, but often as things move forward, take turns, and change, it is people's adaptability and the creativity of the team that will cope with the fluctuations.


Most of the people responsible for taking on these recruitment tasks at tech companies are graduates of psychology and sociology programs, people who possess the types of skills that most managers do not.


Candidates can stand out from their peers by possessing soft skills (illustrative). Photo: Shutterstock Candidates can stand out from their peers by possessing soft skills (illustrative). Photo: Shutterstock


Like most management professions the subject of manpower is an area where Americans have led. With an emphasis on efficiency. The rooted pattern is simple - candidates fill their resumes with their work experience and education. In addition, they list their important qualities and capabilities.


Over the years with the development of the internet, the entire industry has flowed over to sites like LinkedIn, which is a large social media network for professional needs. Candidates list on their profiles their professional history, and occasionally articles they have written or been mentioned in.


Curiosity, passion, ambition, honesty, and creativity


As an experienced manager, I receive dozens of resumes that are very technical in content, but I can’t ignore the feeling that all these candidates have seemingly undergone a uniform course that taught them what a potential employer wants to hear. They know all the key buzzwords and learned to do the show perfectly in a way that makes it difficult for employers to really get to know them. I came to the conclusion that this method isn’t the best and doesn’t answer the most important questions about applicants.


What is it that I want to know? Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m interested in what soft skills—curiosity, passion, ambition, personal honesty, and creativity — a candidate possesses. When present, those five qualities create an image of a person with a sparkle in their eye, who’s friendly, and creates fast-paced work teams. These are the people that others want to be around, who are curious, constantly learning and teaching others. Can you test those qualities easily with high success rates? I think you can.


Speed dating as a recruitment model


I copied the model from the dating world, speed dating, which has significant success rates (up to 6%) in finding the right long term work partner.


How does it work? I invite four candidates for an hour, and test each for ten minutes. Within eight hours, I see 32 candidates (now in the coronavirus pandemic, I do it over Zoom sessions).


The candidates are surprised and don’t know what to expect, so that way they can't prepare answers ahead of time. At the beginning of the interview, I explain to them over a minute and a half that it’s a preliminary interview, where I'm interested in getting to know them a bit, but not from a professional perspective. Immediately, I ask them what their hobbies are, what they like to do in their free time, etc. Often the answers I receive are very interesting and teach me plenty about them. Many are into sports, but there are competitive sports, and then there are things like yoga or martial arts. These are two completely different groups of people. Whoever participates in competitive road cycling must have a very competitive nature, right?


A few days ago, a candidate applied to a senior marketing position, who for the past two years studied acting as a hobby, and even was in some plays. What does it say about him? Afterwards, I asked if he reads, and if so, what. Standard answers are managerial books, but I insisted on what literature he liked, and how those books influenced him. Here too, the answers are interesting and allow one to arrive at several conclusions about a candidate.


Afterwards, I ask about movies. Lately, a candidate answered that she liked the new movie “The Trial of the Chicago Seven,” I asked her why she liked it, and she said because justice was served. Seems like an honest candidate, right?


I also ask about trips and travel. Where has the candidate traveled and what is he or she looking for? Does someone who has traveled to places of leisure, lie on the beach all day or go on learning journeys? What is a person’s favorite travel destination, or why did a candidate visit Rome, Paris etc.?


Obviously, a short interview such as this catches the candidate off guard. You can see it on their faces that they are surprised by the questions. Their reactions say a lot about their personality. Are they calm or stressed? Are they capable of answering and presenting when not prepared? Do they know how to present arguments?


At the end, I ask about their activity on social media, and which networks they use. I try to understand how a candidate uses those tools.


After a primary filter of candidates using the speed dating method, I invite those who passed to an additional, much longer interview, and ask them to prepare something like a short half page marketing plan that reflects the new position that they will take on with the company (whether in marketing, sales, or another branch).



Elon Ganor. Photo: Tommy Harpaz Elon Ganor. Photo: Tommy Harpaz


Elon Ganor is an entrepreneur, an artistic photographer, and an Israeli doctor who is well-known as a pioneer of the Voice over protocol (VOIP) field. He served as Chairman and CEO of NASDAQ-traded VocalTec.