I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Michael Schrage’s recent post: Projects Are the New Job Interviews, on HBR.com. “Resumes are dead. Interviews are largely ineffectual. Linkedin is good. Portfolios are useful,” says the research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s center for Digital Business. “But projects are the real future of hiring, especially knowledge worker hiring. No matter how wonderful your references or how well you do on those too-clever-by-half Microsoft/Google brainteasers, serious firms will increasingly ask serious candidates to do serious work in order to get a serious job offer.”
Are you seeing this in your organization? I am.
Job applicants here are asked to complete some kind of project to demonstrate how they think, how they approach work and whether or not they really understand what they say they understand. In a previous life, I worked in an organization that conducted what we called “auditions” for potential hires we really liked. We’d bring them in for a day (we paid them of course), and had them work with the team. At the end of the day, if we liked them, they left with a job offer.
I’ll admit, both scenarios are still artificial, but they provide something a resume doesn’t, an opportunity to see how potential hires work under pressure, how they think on their feet and whether or not they really have the skills they claim to have (you can’t find that out with a resume scraper looking for key words).
Like a resume or an interview, I’m not convinced that projects are anything more than simply one more data point. I do agree they offer a better glimpse into a potential hire’s skills than a resume.
“Ultimately,” writes Schrage, “the reason why I’m confident that ‘projects are the new job interviews’ is not simply because I’m observing a nascent trend but because this appears to be a more efficient and effective mechanism for companies and candidates to gain the true measure of each other. Designing great applijects and projeclications will be a craft and art. The most successful utilizers will quickly be copied. Why? Because the brightest and most talented people typically like having real-world opportunities to shine and succeed.”
Would you rather make your next hire based upon a keyword-dense resume, or because he or she wow’ed you with the results of a successful project?