Interviewing in a Talent short Market : some thoughts

Interesting times, interesting Leaders, and most of all exciting challenges. However, what I love during these most turbulent times are the constants. The constant remains the identification and retention of talent. Another constant is that as recruiters and hiring managers is that we continue to hire for people in the same way we will go shopping for food. Both with a checklist. In recruitment, our checklist is a bucket list of MUST haves, together with a corresponding list of how long these must haves, must be had. Crazy, right?

So how about we start with small steps and consider some of the following…

  1. The best people aren’t willing to take lateral transfers. They want jobs that stretch them in the short term and offer significant upside potential in the long term. More important, if this condition exists, compensation is less important. This is a constant truth. Start with the reason for the role, the challenges, the vision.
  2. Skills and experience-based job descriptions are terrible for screening purposes and worse for attracting top performers. As a result ask your hiring managers to define jobs as a series of performance objectives and when asked, if they would consider people who will give them these outcomes even if they have different mixes of skills and experiences: most said yes. When the best managers compared the candidates who could do the work to those who had the skills it was clear the best people had something different to offer: more ability, more insight, more confidence and more potential.
  3. Performance of even the best people is very situational. Studies have tracked these people it was clear that those who were hired based on their performance and potential were promoted more frequently and stayed longer than those who were hired based on their skills and experiences. However, the circumstances of the job represented the tipping point between great success and underperformance. Most important was how the hiring manager and new hire worked together. Second were the team issues and third had to do with cultural fit. A mismatch on any of these, regardless of how competent the person was, adversely impacted performance.
  4. Psychometric assessment tests don’t predict ability or fit. I’ve been tracking people for 30 years and the conclusion I developed in the first five years was that, at best, assessment tests confirm ability but don’t predict it. Worse, there were so many false negatives (good people being excluded) and false positives (weak people being considered) that the tests were so flawed they should never be used for screening.
  5. Behavioural interviewing and competency models do not improve quality of hire. In fact Schmidt and Hunter’s academic research over the past 30 years clearly demonstrates that behavioural interviewing, which is based on assessing competencies, is only 12% superior to flipping a coin. That’s why I concluded early on that you can’t build a scalable and repeatable business process based on statistics unless there are very strong correlations between the factors being assessed and on-the-job. After all, what is this “average” mean, and actually, no one is average and in order to maximize the potential of the individual, context matters. The situation matters. The resources matter. The culture matters. The manager matters. The team matters. And the focus of the job matters.

    Let’s stop screening people on things that don’t matter – their level of skills, their years of experience, their GPA, their behaviours and their competencies. To explore hiring alternatives please contact me directly on or #meritrecruitment

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