Drain the Beer Test Out of Your Hiring Practices

Understand what’s behind the way you evaluate potential employees

Finding and hiring the right people for your organization is far from an exact science. It’s rare that someone you’ve recruited turns out to be exactly how you envisioned them when you offered them a position—even after you’ve carefully vetted their qualifications, work history, and suitability for your environment.

As a result, many employers are often turning to a very simple yet increasingly popular form of assessment. Assuming the candidate meets all of the technical qualifications for a position, employers ask themselves a simple question: would I want to have a beer with this person?

Personality predictor

At first glance, this is a fairly reasonable thing to consider. After all, if you have a team comprised of people who work and get along well with one another, why risk disrupting that by adding someone who might not go with the flow?

The problem with the beer question is that it assumes the good vibe you might feel having drinks with someone equals the value that person can deliver to your company. For sure, some people are fun to be around—but do they have the ability to ultimately help your sales? Improve your service? Enhance innovation and problem solving? You need to be honest in assessing whether or not someone’s fun factor actually translates into real assets for your organization.

The same old leads to the same new

Another flaw with this way of viewing candidates is that it can easily lead to a lack of diversity and creativity in your staff. When you take stock of your friends, it’s likely that they all generally share similar values, tastes, and viewpoints—which is great in social settings. But, in a work environment, this can translate into a dangerous form of “groupthink” that limits exploration of new ideas and outside-the-box thinking.

Management hangovers

Having potential drinking buddies as work associates can also negatively affect your ability to manage them. You may find it more difficult to motivate or discipline people you see as friends. It’s already a difficult job to manage a team—and even more so when you have to overcome your emotions and fondness for someone if they are hurting productivity, missing deadlines, or introducing other hurdles to success.

There’s no problem with imagining if someone would be fun or interesting to hang out with after work. But making it a major reason to hire/not hire someone can easily prove to be shortsighted and result in a workforce that lacks a robust mix of experiences, skills, and viewpoints that drives success.

Rather than looking at your happy hour gatherings as a foundation for evaluating candidates, focus on the knowledge and skill gaps that are missing from your team and look for the absolute best talent that can fill them. Leave the beer test where it belongs—out of your hiring decisions.