The Ultimate Job Interview

I don’t watch television much, but I do try to make time for  American Idol.  Have done so for years. Wow, 10 years. Can’t believe the show has been on that long.  Just for fun, let’s see if I can name the nine winners so far without cheating…

  1. Kelly Clarkson
  2. Ruben Studdard
  3. Fantasia
  4. Taylor Hicks
  5. Carrie Underwood
  6. Jordan  Sparks
  7. David  Cook
  8.  …
  9. Lee DeWyze
  10. ????

Don’t know if I have them in the right order, but how’s that for a memory, huh!  Just looked it up – I missed Kris Allen.  Oh that’s too bad; somewhat telling though…talented, yes, but a good cultural fit, i.e., memorable? 

As I said, I’ve been watching this show for years and it struck me that these talent-type shows are the best examples of behavioral-based job interviews I’ve ever seen.  Same thing for my real first fave, Project Runway.  I like that they focus on talent, a person has to produce to demonstrate that “past behavior is a predictor of future behavior” and there are a several people involved in the decision making.  And as in real life, sometimes the hiring managers (judges) are polite and encouraging and at other times, just total insensitive jerks.

The judges and/or voters don’t always get it right, in my opinion, but they do stick to the job description.  Like when they voted off Chris Daughtry.  He is the ultimate (like my other fav Bon Jovi) but they probably did him a favor as he “culturally” wouldn’t have fit the job.

Here’s the official  “job requirements:” for American Idol:

  • Must be 15 years of age and no older than 28 years in the year of the audition.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must be able to work full-time.
  • Must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, if younger than 18 years of age.
  • Must be willing to sign a release form.
  • Must demonstrate to producers that the person does not have talent representation, a music recording, acting or modeling contract, merchandising agreement, or any other contractual arrangement that would prevent the person from entering into a management contract.
  • Must not have progressed to the top 30 in any of the previous seasons.

Here’s some of what I believe are the competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and aptitude) for the position:

  • Ability to maintain an even tone and pitch.
  • Ability to multitask (look at the camera, sing, move, and smile at the same time).
  • Ability to work hard at all times.
  • Demonstrate flexibility.
  • Willingness to openly accept critical feedback and act on it.
  • Willingness to learn and engage.
  • Possesses good oral communication skills.
  • Ability to make sound decisions, e.g., song choice.
  • Ability to display a charming persona on screen – strong interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to maintain a “look”, (i.e., appearance,) that demonstrates AI’s young, hip brand.

Now, I have a couple of questions for you: 

If you were a hiring manager on AI, what would you be looking for –  being able to do the job – or having the raw talent, and so being able  to be taught how to do the job?  Would you look for cultural fit – or just go for the ability to produce?



  1. Excellent analogy! Cultural fit is critical. What happens, though, when the employee has a good cultural fit with the hiring manager but not the company, or vice versa?

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