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The ‘banter test’

by Emma Harrington January 29, 2013

​Getting to that next great career step depends entirely on your academic accolades, references and proven successes, right? Well, we are not so sure anymore. Strong academic achievement and proven excellence is increasingly commonplace (as I am sure you all know through your peer groups). Employers are getting pickier, searching out that ‘WOW’ factor and relying less and less on what you look like on paper. So if their ultimate deciding factor is no longer your CV, what is it?

Many employers are now diversifying their recruitment process, making it more personal and adding an element nicknamed the ‘banter test’. This so-called 'banter test' is a tool which allows the interviewer to assess cultural and team fit. This is not just a fad and it’s catching on fast, with even the great Richard Branson recently saying, "[We look for] people who are willing to go get drunk with staff in the evenings, let their hair down, be flexible and listen".

At FreshMinds, some of our clients ask themselves questions about our candidates such as 'Would I want to sit next to him/her at the Christmas dinner?' or 'Would I be able to sit next to this individual on an international flight?' On most occasions, if the answer is no, you could be Einstein and they still wouldn’t hire you. Herein lies the first of my worries, if you fill a company with the exact same type of person, where will the innovation stem from? Yes, business is based on relationships and trust, but every professional has their own ‘ideal’ version of what that relationship looks like. Organisations and the people within them must be similarly agile.

Of course let’s not forget the additional caveat that for every employer exercising this new form of assessment, each interviewee will be as well. A potential employee's decision to make a move is determined (to a degree) by their own outcome of the 'banter test'. If a candidate can’t see themselves working well with the team or individual in question, or if the company does not appear to be a good cultural fit, the whole process falls apart.

Although the ‘banter test’ should, in our opinion, remain a secondary or even tertiary consideration when making a successful hire, both parties would need to pass the test with flying colours for it to work. It would also be inadvisable for employers to rely too heavily on the ‘banter test’ and not enough on candidates’ professional capabilities. Yes, it is important that a new hire fits into a team, but hiring decision makers will ultimately remember that it’s more important that the candidate is capable of performing well in the job!

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