A month after its premiere earlier this year, ‘Inventing Anna’ — the story of how Anna Sorokin deceived and defrauded major financial institutions in New York — continued to rank in the top 10 on Netflix. It’s one of the many “somewhat” true documentaries that have taken over the top 10 list across platforms. As I watched the series, I couldn’t believe how such influential, accomplished and supposedly smart people were able to be duped by such a character.
Anna Sorokin is able to create a version of herself that acclimates and adjusts to the social environments as needed. Her allure, backed only by her cunning, drew some of New York’s most influential people into her twisted web and only furthered her fame. People flocked to be her friend so they could be associated with the elite crowd. The elite crowd included her so they could be in on her new idea of a foundation for art. Lenders and Real Estate agents worked to attract her attention to be the marque partner in her future success.
I couldn’t help but see a correlation between Anna’s story and so many candidates who have duped either me or hiring managers during the interview process. The issue may not be just a character flaw of falling in love with like-minded candidates but more on the interview process itself.
“Anna looked at the soul of New York and recognized that if you distract people with shiny objects, with large wads of cash, with the indicia of wealth, if you show them the money, they will be virtually unable to see anything else. And the thing was: It was so easy.”Jessica Pressler, who wrote a major piece on Sorokin for New York magazine
Anna’s perceived wealth was based on a lie that she was a trust fund baby and had access to millions of dollars to live life as she pleased. She was often seen at dinners ordering the best wine and sitting at the head of the table with some of the movers in the startup world. If she wasn’t dining at the exclusive restaurants, she was working her way through the network by forging manipulated relationships with those she saw as stepping stones on her path to her dream.
Too often, the interview standards are abandoned when that “star” candidate shows interest in our open role. Perhaps it’s the top salesperson at a competitor or one of the lead architects for the latest application who has reached out to your CTO to discuss a possible move. We become enamored with the idea of stealing someone every other company in the market wants and the idea of putting this level of stardom through a mundane interview process is often frowned upon.
Like Anna, there are candidates who may shine bright like a star at another firm but remember, you don’t necessarily know what’s going on backstage. They may have fame in the market for being the leading thought leader in a space but if you need someone to actually do the work, they’re not your best candidate. All of the lust and wonder can cloud judgement and lead you to be the next stop for candidates who have made a name for themselves for having a name everyone recognizes.
In their recent book, “The Future of Recruitment”, Leutner, Akhtar and Chamorro-Premuzic discuss some of the latest research involving the interview process. More specifically, the authors tackle how using the new science of talent analytics can help increase the rate of success in your hiring strategy. The authors contend that as AI and machine learning continue to change the landscape of recruiting, we may see more efficient and successful interview patterns emerge.
Regardless if it’s behavioral interviewing, a panel of trained professionals, or in the near future, an AI enhanced interviewing, we need to ensure we trust the process. It’s not perfect but it does reduce the chance we fall in love with a candidate who has fame but will cost you a fortune. If those in Anna’s business circle had done more due diligence on the front end BEFORE committing themselves to her asylum, they could have avoided the embarrassment suffered later during her trial when one by one had to admit a 20 year old outsmarted them.
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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