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  • Brian Faulkner

How to Test a Potential Manager Before Hiring

As a hiring manager it can be challenging to accurately assess the person behind the resume. Face-to-face interviews help, but research suggests that the impressions made in the first 20 seconds of an interview strongly influence the hiring decision, so if a candidate presents well, their underlying characteristics and attitudes that would be critical to their success in the role can be missed.


One approach that I’ve found to be helpful in getting past the initial impression hurdle, especially when hiring someone as a people manager, is to take them for lunch. Aside from the things you can learn in the less guarded conversations that happen while sharing food, if you think of eating a meal is a “mini project” there are lots of other clues you can pick up while you eat. Here are a few:

​Candidate's lunch time behaviour

Potential Implications in the workplace

How they treat restaurant staff

How they will treat people reporting to them

What they order:

  • Most expensive dish on the menu

  • Rare dish they’ve never eaten before

  • Dish “I always order if it’s on the menu”


  • How they will treat company money

  • How adventurous they are

  • How routine they are; how accepting of change

Pickiness about food

How demanding they will be that things meet their expectations, or are up to “standard” (a great trait if youre hiring a QA manager)

The way they handle their food (sloppy, fastidious, systematic, methodical)

How organized their work will be; how process driven they are

The speed at which they eat

The speed at which they will work; their focus on meeting deadlines

Conversation topics engaged in

How much passion they have for things they’re involved in, how interested are they in learning new things

​Conversation etiquette – do they dominate the conversation, interrupt, ask probing questions, listen for understanding,

What you can expect of them as communicators

This is by no means a comprehensive list and I’m sure if you spend some time thinking about it, you will come up with more mealtime “clues” to add to it. Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but rather a handful of early indicators that, when taken together, give you a better sense of what to expect of the candidate once they are in the position.


What’s your experience? Do you have any techniques for getting a better feel for the person behind the resume? Please share them with us…

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