Check the checker

At the tail end of the last century, one Kenyan-based Kiwi & insurance professional passed through Hong Kong.

One recommendation, one coffee meeting and one verbal request… one result, 24 years of service to a company.

I believe the dialogue went a bit like this;

Next time you’re in Hong Kong come and see us about a job.”

No resume, no job description, no “formal” interview. What ensued, a solid and impactful career.

A spontaneous meeting, without boxes to tick and sole focus on rapport. Eye to Eye and Shoulder to Shoulder. This is how my father Nicholas Donne launched his career in Hong Kong.

Rapport can’t be forced, it’s a chemical exchange. An exchange of facial expressions and body language, it requires two parties both to be in a state of flow.

It’s a tangle with uncertainty in order to develop a certainty. How the other person reacts to you putting yourself on the line and telling the truths of yourself. Hence the term “candidate”. A CANDID DATE. 

Our biggest rapport blocker is the resume and the labels that they contain. Words on a page without context hold different meanings across a pool of eyes, each of which read in varied dialects.

Because everyone interprets labels differently, while one may be looking for the low sugar option, the other may see value in the highest vitamin count.

The resume gives us structure, but structures can be cheated because structures are clear and structure is the trade-off of spontaneity. We all to a certain extent know the magic of “a no expectations and let’s see where this goes ride” scenario, like the unplanned evening out.

What really matters in the interview is;

“Am I going to like working with you?”  and “Are we going to be able to partner to reach our collective ceilings?” and “Can I trust you?”

Instead of being spontaneous, we’ve been focused on checking the checker. Doubling up on conversations and asking questions that can be answered before two parties come together.

Can you do this job? Do you have the talent? Why should I hire you?

Conversations inside the boxes and around the labels. Not a result from your own style, but from organisation-wide process. Designed to maximise efficiency and meet demands of scale. Checking the checker, because we’ve been conditioned to take a line of “a glass half empty” questioning.

Vendors are taking the quality assurance load now, that’s what you reward and empower them for. Talent teams, both internal or external are your vendors. Let them play the role of the screen, if you still believe in screening.

They’re there to empower you so that you can focus on setting the terms of a successful relationship. Rapport.

On your next candid date try to ditch the paper, see if you find a groove and get in sync. Take away the rehearsal and remove any structure that can be prepared for. Because so much of the world now is without structure and the ability to think on your feet matters.

History is important so long as it’s told through neutral eyes. Testimonials tell us if someone truly can walk the talk, follow up the rapport building with testimonial gathering.

We’ve got better things to be doing than checking the checker.

Stay healthy, stay hopeful and keep it radical.