As you probably know, one of my favorite TV channels is The Food Network and since it’s Friday, I want to focus on one of their programs for our Foodie Friday Fun. This is the seventh season of The Next Food Network Star which I think is a really interesting program for a number of reasons. The biggest name to emerge from the show is the past winner Guy Fieri, who has become a star on NBC (Minute To Win It) as well as on a number of food-related shows but a few of the other winners, and runners-up, have continued on The Food Network and help to prove that the process works. Can it work for you?
If you’ve never watched, a dozen finalists engage in a series of cooking challenges. They also have to present their work on camera, cut sample promos for a show, and establish a food point of view that might serve them down the road as the basis for their TV show. In addition to the chefs one might expect to evaluate the contestants for food quality, two executives from the channel also serve as judges to evaluate the contestants’ performance on camera and their intangibles such as connections with their audience.
What I love about the program is that it’s not just an extended job interview (actually, an extended stress interview!), but also that it has the applicants (that’s what they are) demonstrating their abilities to do the job under real-life conditions. Think about that for a second. Not only are you seeing the other candidates for the position you want (have you ever known, met or lived with anyone else who was under consideration for a job you wanted?), but you also get to watch them perform the job requirements as you try to do so at the same time. Phew!
This is a great interview and evaluation process for them but unfortunately, I don’t think it can work for the rest of us. I’m pretty sure most candidates won’t want to work in the office for a few weeks along with the other applicants. However, maybe there are a few things we can learn and try to put into practice. I’m not a huge fan of judging based on examples of prior work – you never know if the candidate actually did it or how much the final product is theirs. I used to ask finalists to write things if I thought that was relevant to the job for which they were applying. Sometimes I’d give them a small project (usually in the form of a question during the interview – if they took the time to find the answer and let me know later on, that was big points).
The point here is that most of us have to rely on an unrealistic process – interviews – to evaluate talent. What I love about the TV show is that it’s a testing process that’s true to the real-life job the winner is going to do. It may be the way the show is edited but I’ve always felt that the “right” person wins and while not all of the winners have become major stars (besides Guy), with 24 hours a day to fill the channel needs competent, appealing talent and this works. I wish we could do something similar in the business world.