Can’t work out if they’re the best fit for the job? Get them to take you for a drive.

The interview process is fraught with obstacles for those seeking a position. But for those tasked with filling a vacant role the challenges can be just as daunting. If a prospective employee misses out on a role they will feel dejected in the short term, but soon they will have moved on. But if the person hiring makes a poor choice that decision can haunt the company for quite some time. With so much pressure to make a good choice it can be tempting to take the middle of the road approach; sticking with a safe candidate might not yield spectacular success but it probably won’t result in unmitigated failure.

The problem is that there can be little difference between how a star performer and a genuine psychopath comes across in an interview. In fact, the true crazies will often interview to a very high standard. That’s because they’re really very good at doing great interviews; doing the actual job you employed them for, not so much.
Let’s say you have a potential candidate who could be a star or could be a psycho. You could follow the three month rule and see if their true nature reveals itself during that time. Or you could get it over with in about an hour.

Get them to take you for a drive in a car.

(A caveat is necessary at this point, however. This strategy relies on the person hiring being a good driver. Unfortunately everyone thinks that they are a good driver, much like everyone believes they have a sense of humour.)

Driving a car reveals many things about people. For a start you can see if they’re any good at it. Driving is a skill but it is something that we spend a good deal of time doing. It’s also a dangerous activity with an unconscious acceptance of risk, so if someone hasn’t bothered becoming skilled at it that says quite a lot about them. A driver who leaves a safe breaking distance between themselves and the car in front is someone who understands that actions have consequences. A driver who spots gaps well in advance and effortlessly slots their vehicle through heavy traffic is someone who thinks and plans ahead. Even how someone approaches a set of traffic lights will reveal a lot about them. Picture a six lane highway, three lanes in either direction. Driving in the outside lane, our hero is approaching a set of red traffic lights. Before him in his lane are four cars already stopped and waiting. The middle lane has no cars and a glance in the mirror would tell our hero that he has more than enough space to slot into the front of the grid.

What does either action reveal about the personality of the driver concerned? And who do you want working for you – the driver who simply lines up behind the other cars without a thought to the empty lane, or the one who slots neatly in at the front ready to pull away at his own pace? And in your preference, what does that reveal about you?

Because driving does reveal a person’s personality. The simple act of speeding up so as to not allow another driver a smooth merge onto a freeway speaks volumes about their behaviour towards other people. Do they look in their mirror? If so, how often? Are they aware of everything going on around them or are they living in their own little bubble of oblivion? Even an accident will betray a person’s true inclinations, in fact I would say that a small fender bender is one of the best ways to accurately gauge a person. Whether or not if the accident is their fault, I want to hire a person who will get out of their car in a calm manner, ask after the well-being of his passengers and the people in the other vehicle, logically survey the scene and the damage involved, quickly exchange details with the other driver whilst putting them at ease, and all the while being aware of the effect the accident has had on other traffic so as to move the vehicles out of the way as quickly as possible.

Very few people will react this way. And that’s why getting someone to take you for a drive is a great way to quickly understand what they’re really like. All you have to do then is determine if that personality is the best fit for the job and the best fit for you.

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