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Hockey and Hiring Managers: Parallels from the Ice to the Interviewers

by Jared Ferrell

I’ve been itching to write a sports related blog for a while, and with the NHL lockout ending, there is no time like the present to mix two of my biggest interests: hockey and personnel selection.

Last line of defense

As a lifelong hockey player, sports have always carried significant weight in aiding my understanding and explanations of different concepts, so this post describes some parallels I have noticed between hockey goalies and hiring managers. I’ve always been a goalie, often labeled “the last line of defense”. When someone on the opposing team gets through the rest of my defense, it becomes my job (read: responsibility) to maintain positive outcomes for the team. In organizational contexts, hiring managers can then be seen as organizational goalkeepers, as they must deal with everything that gets past the rest of the selection system, when trying to hire the best candidates to fill open positions and ultimately help the organization succeed.

Now that we’ve established the parallel, it’s time to dole out some knowledge based on personal experience in both arenas.

One thing I have learned over the years is that my job as a goalie is much easier when there is a strong defense in front of me to help minimize potentially negative situations. In an organizational setting, this is where pre-employment assessments come into play. Many organizations are still hanging their hiring managers out to dry, so to speak, by not utilizing the correct (or any) pre-employment assessment to better filter the barrage of applicants for open positions. This places an overwhelming amount of pressure on the hiring manager to try and pick exceptional employees out of an excessively large crowd.

Another parallel between the two contexts is that both on the ice, as well as in organizational settings, formal training can help improve outcomes, but in and of itself will not ensure positive outcomes. You can teach fundamentals all day (e.g., structured interviewing), but if the hiring manager is bombarded with candidates, much like shots in hockey, unqualified ones are nearly guaranteed to slip through every now and then.

At Shaker, we strive to assist hiring managers in making optimal hiring decisions by utilizing the Virtual Job Tryout to filter out candidates not fit for open positions. This helps the hiring managers, as they are now interviewing candidates judged to be more suitable to the job than vetting via a résumé alone would produce.

It is also worth noting that the Virtual Job Tryout is not meant to be the “last line of defense” in hiring situations, as it is still expected that hiring managers will conduct structured interviews of candidates who score highly on the Virtual Job Tryout (though we do offer aids such as structured interview training upon request to further assist your hiring managers). Instead, the Virtual Job Tryout merely acts as a strong filter that works in conjunction with the hiring manager to help identify candidates most likely to succeed in the open position. This ultimately produces a situation more likely to result in organizational success, as can be seen when utilizing our ROI calculators Here and Here.