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Just Wondering...Who's Interviewing?

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 11

When Bobby Ray Inman withdrew his candidacy for the post of Secretary of Defense, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas remarked, "You kind of wonder how they picked this person. Seems to me that maybe the President or somebody who recommended him to the President should have had a closer look."

There's a clear lesson in the Inman situation for anyone involved in the selection and hiring process - consider all the factors when evaluating a candidate's qualifications. Had President Clinton examined Inman's Performance Factors: Intellectual, Interpersonal, and Motivation characteristics, as well as his Resumé Factors: Education, Experience, and Knowledge, he might not have proceeded with the nomination.

Inman was clearly not motivated to take this job. The very day Clinton announced the nomination, Inman told reporters, "I did not seek the job, and I did not want the job." According to Newsweek, he repeatedly sent signals to Washington that he had misgivings. The administration evidently missed those signals.

Inman's behavior during the nomination process indicated that he was overly sensitive and unable to handle stress. And, while nothing in the news indicated that Inman was weak in the intellectual area (The Wall Street Journal reported that he had an "aura of brilliance" that "dazzled the White House"), he did demonstrate poor judgment, and some would say, even paranoid thinking in the way he withdrew his candidacy. In a rambling hour-long news conference he stunned even many of his allies by accusing Senator Dole and New York Times columnist William Safire of conspiring to deny him the nomination. Later, Inman retreated, saying that he regretted the outburst.

To avoid "kind of wondering" how you picked a person who turns out not to be right for the job, pay attention to all the candidate's qualifications - resumé and performance. It is the Performance Factors that are most likely to explain on the job failure. By going beyond the obvious, you won't risk missing the signals the way the White House did.