As a technologist and entrepreneur who's created software to optimize the hiring process, I find myself fascinated by the 2016 presidential election. The media circus atmosphere, the personal attacks, the lack of discussion about substantive issues -- all of it says a lot about how we select our politicians.
In theory, we are hiring a president. There's a vacancy to be filled, and the person selected should be the one who can best perform the job. Yet when we compare the hiring process to this election, it bears very little resemblance to the ideal process of choosing the best candidate for the job.
What if the election worked more like the ideal hiring process?
When a job position opens, the hiring manager first specifies the qualities and competencies the ideal hire will posses. Voters are clear about the issue landscape of the 2016 election: the economy, immigration, the threat of terrorism and banking regulation. Are they equally clear about the talent and skills a president must have to successfully address those issues?
In filling a vacancy, the hiring manager assesses each candidate's competencies relative to the issues they'll be addressing. Yet when it comes to elections -- and this election in particular - no one could credibly argue that competencies come first. This campaign season is awash in emotion: fear, hope, resentment, the range of human passions are all in play. Whatever side of the hiring process you've been on - job candidate, hiring manager, or HR -- you know that when emotion is injected into the hiring process, the outcome is pretty much destined to go awry.
A hiring manager can consider every nuance of a candidate's profile, from their quantitative skills to how they handle pressure. Voters, meanwhile must make decisions amidst a barrage of information designed to manipulate our perceptions to elevate one candidate and denigrate others. In this din of electoral propaganda, making an objective assessment of a candidate's qualifications is next to impossible.
As this election cycle unfolds -- or should I say "unravels"? -- focus on who you would vote for if you were making a hiring decision. I guarantee you'll see all the candidates -- and the entire process - in a new, more informative light.