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Unconventional hiring can pay dividends for businesses

Jed Fonner
July 24, 2012

When Appian hires new employees, the company often puts the individuals through a round of interviews that include a range of activities, such as problem solving puzzles and brain teasers, designed to learn more about a person than typical questions about work background, the Washington Post reported.

To illustrate this process, the news source told the story of Jed Fonner, a principal consultant with the organization. Fonner went through eight or nine interviews in which he was asked to play puzzle games, complete logic problems and demonstrate an ability to think creatively to solve complex problems, not just know the right way to answer questions about work history and long-term goals.

"It was very intense," Fonner told the Washington Post. "There were behavioral-type questions, logic questions. I had one interview with the chief architect where all we did was brain teasers. Six or seven of them."

The report explained that Appian's hiring practices are not just unique because they put prospective employees through problem-solving trials. The company also ensures each individual considered for employment is interviewed by Matt Calkins, CEO at Appian.

Calkins told the news source that his efforts to interview potential workers is one of the ways he works to shape the direction of the company and ensure the organization is equipped with the right people to meet short- and long-term strategic goals.

Calkins explained that while the interview process may seem somewhat harsh and demanding at first, it also helps the company find the right workers, allowing them to accelerate the entire orientation process. He told the Washington Post that Appian is able to entrust new employees with more responsibilities than most organizations because the company goes through such a rigorous interview process. It creates a greater sense of trust between Appian and new employees because managers have a better understanding of what their new workers are capable of accomplishing.

Businesses attempting to replicate such an efficient process have to consider how they will align the various data sources pertaining to recruits and use that knowledge to improve interview processes. In many cases, business process management software can help, as it allows for the integration of content from social, mobile and other information sources. This provides companies with the core data they need about prospective employees, allowing them to make process-level improvements in how they handle interviews.