Free Range Thinking: Our Journey to Disrupt the Job Interview

6 Minutes

Written in partnership with Kristin Dudley, Co-Create. Be different, be bold. This i...

By Rosh Jayawardena

Managing Director, North America

Written in partnership with Kristin Dudley, Co-Create.


Be different, be bold.


This is how Elliott Scott HR approaches recruitment. We are always striving to take our work a step further for our clients - and if we can empower them to think a little differently, then we can collectively define the future of HR. In our New York City offices, we are taking that step. In partnership with NYC’s “HR Disruptor of the Year”, Kristin Dudley MSOD, the Founder of Co-Create: an employer brand and storytelling agency, we have begun an experimental series of design thinking events.

The quarterly event series, which we lovingly refer to as, “Free Range Thinking Events”, brings together a cross-section of 10 Elliott Scott HR clients and candidates to engage in a creative evening without boundaries. Our goal here is multi-fold: first, we seek to shape a stronger local HR community; second, we intend to spark creativity amongst the community; and ultimately, we are out to generate some really fantastic, disruptive, and innovative ideas to share with one another.

So, we do have some boundaries here. Our events occur within a 3-hour window and work within a framework that leads us from connecting with one another to generating ideas together. This year, we have a hero topic that we’ll continue to hash out throughout our 2018 series: “Ways to Disrupt the Job Interview”. By January 2019, Kristin and I will have brought together 40 HR professionals to hash out this topic. Our experimental move is to not let go of the ideas generated by each group, instead, we will continuously build on top of the ideas as we move on to our next cohort.


We recently hosted our first official event - here’s a recap:

We begin our night by getting relaxed, shaking off the day and connecting with one another over introductions, Kristin’s own Chemistry Card networking activity, and most importantly, pizza and beer. From there we moved the group into a conference room to begin our discussion and idea generating.

“Let’s think radically,” motivating words to kick off our inaugural event by special guest and co-facilitator, Costa Michaelidis of Innovation Bound. Innovation Bound is an innovation training and consulting company which regularly works with innovators and scientists.

Between Kristin and I, we figured, if we’re here to push boundaries, let’s bring in a friend who can really help us think differently. Costa got us moving.

We’ll continue to engage different special guests who can continue to push us to think radically throughout the series. We began by first recognizing the problem: the antiquated and ineffective standard job interview that we rely on so heavily in our hiring. We shared stories of our best and worst job interview experiences which spurred a lot of discussion over the candidate experience in general. Many of those stories led us to discuss the importance of ensuring we feel as if we’re “being treated as humans” during the candidate experience… Human Resources, wow. We documented the “helps” and the “hinders” on a board in order to keep them in our purview while moving on to ideating.

So, then we got to work. Rolling up our sleeves and going heads down, a timer projected on the wall, our newly united community of HR pros began thinking differently about the interview experience. What could be done differently? What experiences have brought them, as our participant Rafe Harwood of The Guardian proclaimed, “Surprise and delight”, which might inspire a new approach? Our members began by working individually to muster a first round of ideas.

Next, we moved them into pairs in order to build off of one another’s ideas and ask one another the question, “What if?”.

Important to note - our “Free Range Thinking”, is so freeing because we’re not pressured to build something here. This is about giving our community a break and an opportunity to get creative and experimental while learning from one another. So what did we come up with?

Here are our top 3 ideas, as voted on by the group, of which we’ll build upon, crush or enhance in our next event happening in June:

Question posed: In what ways might we replace the “interview” as the centerpiece of the recruitment process?

Top 3 ideas from our April Free Range Thinking Event:

A True Realistic Job Preview: Replace the job interview with a real day on the job. An AI interface to conduct an unbiased, competency based, engagement followed by personal contact aimed at assessing cultural fit.

Think Inside the Box: Give the candidate a physical box that they have to fill with what they need and what they will bring to the job in order to achieve a specific goal.

We’re not settling here. We’re going to continue our series through to January 2019, 3 additional events between now and then, 30 more HR professionals, in order to continue ideating on the topic while continuing to spark and connect our community.

Guess what? We feel pretty confident that what we’re setting out to do is already working: “I wanted to let you know that the conversation really sparked my thinking. On Tuesday, I challenged my recruiting team to revamp the hiring process/experience...”​ Attendee, Lorraine Heber-Brause of Yotpo.

Thank you to our innovators from this session for your input and ideas: Josh Rhein, Tanisa Williams, Rafe Harwood, Brian Kalina, Karen Swiatek, Dennis Alvarado, Danielle Bermond and Lorraine Heber-Brause.

Continue to follow our journey and maybe you’ll come to our table! Who knows where we’ll be next year.