Guest Blog: Steve Guinn, Ph.D, managing partner of PSP Metrics
Many HR organizations utilize a standard superficial process for selecting employees, paying more attention to prerequisite education and experience than the candidate’s abilities and potential to get the job done. They are more careful about checking boxes than they are doing in-depth interviews and truly getting to know candidates.
When areas of the business like IT, operations, marketing or finance are looking to fill a position, it is unlikely that the HR professional responsible for managing the search will be familiar with the nuances of organizations outside of their own. This can make for some missed cues either in a digital review process or even the first interview. Since HR can never become subject matter experts in all of the areas they need to fill, some rules will need to be broken.
Three rules your organization must break in order to find great talent:
Giving Priority to Candidates from the Most Prestigious Schools or Companies
Many bright candidates (who are often the best value), may work in less prestigious companies and have graduated from less prestigious colleges. They may not be a part of the “in” social circles and as a result, recruiters often miss them.
Recently I came across a highly talented electrical engineer working for a small technical services company because it had given him time to run his DJ business on the weekends. He was a state college graduate with above average analytical and problem solving skills. He was also very entrepreneurial and had great people skills. He was waiting to make a move until the right job opportunity came along. Because he did not fit the “usual” boxes, most recruiters had overlooked this high potential candidate.
When recruiters focus on unconventional individuals who are continuous learners, who show energy and drive, and who have accomplished unique things, they enlarge their candidate pool and can often find terrific employees who will be strong contributors.
Relying On a Group Interview
Naturally, the traditional job interview has value, but interviews alone remove little of the risk from the hiring decision. They simply do not provide enough reliable information. Group interviews are notoriously less effective and often give a false sense of confidence and safety. The best alternative is a structured behavioral event interview where you uncover specific job-related examples of the candidate’s past behaviors. They are a lot more effective and can add much greater value than just getting a few managers together to simply wing an interview.
It is also important to meet with candidates multiple times to observe the consistency of their behavior and allow them more than one setting to present themselves. Some candidates are slower to warm up but go on to do an excellent job, whereas other candidates have good role-playing skills for the first interview but lack substance and the ability to sustain their roleplaying over multiple interviews and meetings.
Another valuable tool that can add clarity on candidates’ potential is psychometric profiling, which measures key skills as well as important work behaviors. Professional testing by experienced industrial psychologists results in much greater accuracy in predicting successful candidates. You can measure items such as Energy/Drive, People Skills, Team Orientation, Adaptability, Critical Thinking, Leadership, Results Orientation, etc. These measurements add a great deal of objectivity to the selection process.
Looking For the “Perfect” Candidate
It is also important to drop the idea of finding the “perfect” candidate. Every candidate will have strengths and weaknesses and the main task is identifying those characteristics accurately so the person’s fit for the position can be determined and, then, what training and development plans can be made to best help them succeed.
Successful people have many similarities in their profiles and more often than not it is not because they graduated from the same schools or know the right people or have some exceptional job knowledge or experience. Successful people are hard workers who are goal oriented but are also adaptable in their thinking. They are continuous learners and are able to adapt to changing working conditions and often seek out as much variety and challenge in their jobs as possible.
These individuals will stand out when you use multiple tools and check multiple variables in the hiring process.
You’ve attracted the best and brightest to your company…now what?
Younger professionals and managers are often in a constant job search. In order to quench their need for change, you must offer them interesting work and clear opportunities to learn. Add a lot of flexibility, and a promise to help them grow and develop and the best candidates can evolve into pillars of the company.
Dr. Guinn is managing partner of PSP Metrics (www.pspmetrics.com), a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm that has assisted local, national, and international businesses in talent selection and development.