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Why not give candidates real use cases during recruitment?

Recruitment is hard. Doh! But why make it even harder for yourselves? Time and time again I see recruiters coming up with convoluted ways to "test" their candidates. Tests, assessments, business cases. And yet the "recruitment success" (in a wide definition of this term) is still pretty rare. But this post is not about the entire recruitment process, just a part of it - business cases.

Why would you ask a candidate to solve a business case? 

To see if they told the truth on their CVs. To try and validate if they are really capable of what they advertise.

The problem with business cases during a recruitment

Often, business cases are made up. Candidates are asked to solve cases so recruiters could learn how they would behave in a hypothetical situation. The case is designed to have the right answer. However, real cases, like the ones you deal with daily, don't have the right answer. Real cases are not well-defined, constantly changing and with multiple variables. 

Why not give candidates real business cases?

Most likely you don't need a new employee who's good at hypothetical cases. You need someone who can do the job, the real burning job at hand. Why then you'd give a candidate a made-up business case? Why not give candidates real cases and see if they could handle them. You don't need one right answer from them as it doesn't exist. You want to see how they think, what they will do, how would they approach the real situation they will face if hired. 

The benefits of real business cases

Your new hires will start bringing value to your business much sooner. That is if a business case you gave to your candidates reflects nicely the real job you're hiring for.
If you don't end up hiring them at least you'll learn something new about the cases you have at hand. This works both ways. Your candidates will have a much better idea of what to expect if hired. That's a mutually beneficial challenge that will help you find the best matching people.

Not convinced? Check Giff Constable's post on "pairing sessions" when hiring product managers.

In a perfect world, candidates will be able to come work with you for a few weeks or months until a permanent hiring decision is taken. But while this is still rare, at least give your candidates real business cases and increase your chances for "recruitment success".

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