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  • Irene Iliopoulos

The fallacy of the wow factor


People say wow all the time – for excitement, shock, emphasis, etc… But what’s the meaning of wow in the recruitment industry? More precisely, what do people mean when they say they’ve been wowed by a candidate (or haven’t been, for that matter)?

When I hear that a candidate has wowed a hiring manager I ultimately think to myself that this interviewee is getting the job (or at least has a very strong chance). I mean, if you wowed a hiring manager, then it’s clear that you have the right skill set, experience, and in the end, everything that the hiring manager is looking for in a new employee. Makes sense, right? Maybe…


Now, say a hiring manager told you that a particular candidate they met with had all the right experience, said all the right things, and seemed perfect for the role, but he/she simply did not wowthem. What does mean in this circumstance?

This is where it can get confusing. In the first example, wow factor indicated that the job seeker had everything we sought out for, whereas in the second example, wow factor is something undefined.


So I ask again, what is wow and why do we use it descriptively in recruitment?

The problem with looking for wow is that it’s just so subjective. I’m wowed by 100 different things, but if I ask 100 others what wows them, we would certainly have many different responses. This is where the issue lies. Why look for wow? Wow can’t be quantified. Recruiting for wow isn’t as simple as recruiting for a specific set of skills. Wow isn’t a set of skills. We can’t tell a candidate that he/she would be perfect if he/she just showed us a little more wow. We’ll leave people confused. We’ll leave people saddened. We may even leave an un-wowed impression of ourselves.


So I challenge this motion of wow, and instead suggest that as recruiters and hiring managers we stop waiting to be biasedly swept up off our feet. We look for the skills we require. We look for the people who will fill a void within the team and bring something we need (or don’t even realize that we need at the time). We look for expertise, we look for capability, and we look for mutual satisfaction. Let’s stop searching for something that is subjectively constructed, and start really seeing the talent in front of us