The Wrapper Test

I recently posted this INC article by Joe Hirsch on LinkedIn, in which he describes a simple interview “test” with a gum wrapper on the floor. In short, if the interviewee picks it up – hire them. If not, it depends on other factors as to why or why not they may be a good fit. Here are Hirsch’s three critical take-away’s on why to hire the wrapper-picker-upper. He suggests these candidates are: 

1. Team-oriented

2. Observant and detail-oriented

3. Conscientious

I agree! I also think there’s more to it than that. People heading into an interview are often laser-focused on performance, so consumed with their own head game that they may not notice the wrapper at all. Although Hirsch admittedly doesn’t suggest you shouldn’t NOT hire the person just because they don’t pick up the wrapper, I would caution the over-weighting of one specific trait as a mark of absolute hire, which is being observant in the context of detail-orientation.

Being team-oriented, observant and conscientious are valuable core behavioral traits, no doubt; yet, many leaders are not detail-oriented. In fact, a high percentage of CEOs are the Myers-Briggs type: INTJ, in which the “N” stands for Intuitive, and denotes a preference for big-picture thinking. Intuitive leaders can often miss details – even those in plain sight. So, while being observant is a great trait to have, it is possible that a highly intuitive leader who is both team-oriented and consciousness could miss the wrapper all together.

My take on what makes a best-fit leader is that their knowledge, skills, and behaviors need to fit perfectly with the role. If you’re hiring a CFO, detail-orientation is imperative. If it’s a Chief Marketing Officer, vision and creativity above detail-orientation may be the better fit. It is also the mark of a best-fit candidate to acknowledge their shortcomings to say, e.g., “I’m visionary and admittedly not as detail-oriented as I would like. I compensate by empowering a strong staff to challenge me on details and help fill my gap in that area.”

In an interview, preparation is still the best approach to articulating how you’re the best-fit candidate. Download my guide to the top interview question response strategies here if you haven’t already. Also, pick up any gum wrappers along the way!