I have avoided watching the Democratic primary debates until now, but I watched last week’s Las Vegas debate.
As a recruiting professional, my main takeaway was this: The debate format is a terrible way to assess how a candidate will do on the job. Rarely is an actual President required to share information in 1¼ minutes and then shout over peers in order to clarify a point.
Let’s say we scrap this practice – which is painful for the hiring managers (i.e., voters/viewers) and the candidates – and borrow practices organizations use to hire employees.
Start with behavioral interviews. This is the practice of asking the candidates to share examples of work experience they have that is analogous to the duties of the job they’re interviewing for.
Here are the types of questions I might ask an executive leader, relevant to the role that a Democratic candidate would step into in January 2021:
- Share an example of a time you stepped into a leadership role, and your peer leaders had no respect for your predecessor. How did you work to gain respect for your organization in order to work more effectively with those peers?
- Share an example of a time when you became the leader of an organization, and a position reporting to you had previously been filled by an individual who had no interest in fulfilling the stated mission of that business unit. What steps did you take to create the conditions for that business unit to become successful again?
- Tell us about your biggest success in creating lasting systemic change. How did you approach it, who did you work with to get it done, and what obstacles did you overcome?
Each candidate would create a video answering the same behavioral interview questions. Then voters can watch each candidate’s response to the same questions, and learn about their relevant experience.