How do you make a lasting impression on a candidate? Go meet them in person. This happened to me on this date in 2001, when my eventual boss called me up in Detroit and asked if he could meet me (for the first time) for dinner that night to talk about a job I had applied for. Impressive enough, but more so given that he lived in St. Louis.

Keith flew up to the Motor City, we had dinner, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sure, I went through the obligatory campus interview and did all the other standard things in the hiring process, but that day was when the real decision was made.

Keith said all the finalists had the right qualifications, but at this stage, it all came down to chemistry. Was I a fit with him and vice versa? The only way to tell is to spend time together in person. He invested time on the front end, and the fit was so good that we still talk every year on April 5, even though he has long retired and it is 17 years later.

Maybe you aren’t as fortunate as Keith to have the ability to go to dinner on the home turf of all your candidates, but you do have the option to spend time alone with them when they come to interview or to have multiple conversations before a hiring decision is made.

You don’t marry someone after the first date, even if you like them. One quick Q and A with someone isn’t enough to know whether the hiring match is right either.

(he forgot his business cards so wrote his contact info on his boarding pass!)

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