GuyEight candidates walk into a room. Each sits at their own desk. In front of them is a piece of paper that reads “candidate,” followed by their respective numbers, one through eight. A representative from the company tells them the exam they just sat down to take will last 80 minutes. It is only one single question. The catch: they can’t talk to the company representative or the armed guard, ruin the piece of paper, or leave the room. Not following the rules results in immediate disqualification. One candidate writes on her paper and is disqualified. After the first candidate is removed from the room, the remaining seven candidates discover they can work together to figure out what the exam is.

As the candidates move forward and the clock ticks down, some are removed. Eventually, only two candidates remain. Blonde, as she is called in the movie, realizes the other candidate still in the room, Deaf, isn’t like the rest of them. He had been ignored through the interview battle, even while writing on his exam paper with a piece of broken glass. She uses his glasses to read the minuscule writing that says “Question 1.” She is then reminded of the only question the company representative asked the group: “Any questions?” As the film draws to a close, Deaf and the company representative enter the room. They explain to her the company had created a drug that cures a viral pandemic. They needed someone who was compassionate and strong enough to make difficult decisions. Blonde was offered the job. 

This is a rather brief synopsis of the movie Exam. In many ways, the movie depicts how to find the coveted dream candidate for the job. The company clearly has perfected their method of candidate selection, although it is rather unconventional. The trending “slogan” – if you will – is “hire slow, fire fast.” The company in Exam does quite the opposite, and for good reason. It takes about half an employee’s pay to replace them, so why make the process longer than it should be? The company will only end up wasting time and money.

Your candidates have made it this far in the hiring process; they all seem to be exemplary individuals for the job — on paper. What makes them different from each other? Their experiences and their personalities. Cultural fit in an organization – cultural fit for the job – makes a great impact on talent’s qualification for the job. In fact, the biggest reason new hires fail is because of personality/culture mismatches. An amazing 89 percent of these new hires fail not due to lack of skills, but because they don’t have the personalities to fit the position or the company.

Attention to detail and following directions are paramount for many positions. The movie merely takes this to the extreme. Communications manager at MedReps Robyn Melhuish says, “It’s amazing how many candidates don’t follow simple instructions and, as a result, end up losing out on an opportunity.” It’s true, and quite frankly, it’s one of the easiest ways to filter out serious candidates from those who aren’t as dedicated to the position.

Candidates who don’t “play by the rules” are easily weeded out from the process with an Applicant Tracking System. Talent that follows directions and notices the minute details — as Blonde did in the movie — are the individuals who stand out to recruiters and CEOs. Sometimes, all it takes is reading the fine details — or the details etched into a piece of paper with a broken piece of glass. In any case, if candidates are truly interested in the position they will read all of the information and do their research before hand. They will be able to discuss current company news and developments. The company in the film takes the most qualified candidates on paper and filters them out one by one through an (unorthodox) personality test.

The one who is appointed the position is the last one standing. What type of candidate in your talent pool is the last one remaining? Do you offer the job, or are they still not exactly the personality you’re looking for?



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