You have seen them. Bumpers stop bowling balls from taking a trip down the gutter.
Pins are knocked down. Scores are recorded.
But those scores are inflated, not entirely real.
I have noticed something similar in business, specifically in the hiring process.
The position is vacant. The field of candidates is narrowed. You want to fill this position.
The questions get harder. You dig a little deeper. You want the right person: the right fit.
Suddenly, the bumpers appear.
“I think the candidates will struggle with that question, what if we soften it, or explain it a little more?”
“Why don’t we go easy on them, help them relax, that way they will be successful?”
Maybe it is the thought of having to start over, re-advertise, and try again. Maybe you have to admit to your boss, or their bosses that it didn’t work out. Maybe an unsuccessful process will reflect poorly on you.
The pressure to fill the position becomes stronger than filling it well.
The real problem with bumpers is they mask the downside risk. Bowling with bumpers is all upside. You knock down pins. You are invincible. Your scores are amazing!
Bumpers are okay if you are new and need some practice. But when the real game, the hiring process is being played, you need play with both upside and downside risk.
Once the process is over, the bumpers come down anyway. They will be in your organization and will bring both the upside and the downside.
The next time you are hiring or interviewing, look around to see if you are playing with the bumpers up.