There is a link between employee selection and the television series ‘Who do you think you are?’ They both provide many unexpected surprises. The problem with employee selection is that most of the unexpected surprises are rarely good surprises.

A short-list batch of five CVs has just landed in your inbox. You are fully experienced in your role and you masterfully understand your company culture. You are now responsible for determining if a candidate will be a good job fit for a vacancy. Most likely you will also use your inherent bias to assist your decision making - either ‘consciously’ or ‘unconsciously’. Your bias may kick-in to overcome complex thinking. But the fundamental question you need to ask yourself during any pending applicant interview is “WHO DO YOU THINK THEY ARE?”…and how correct are you going to be?

Do YOU think they are skilled and a good corporate fit?

Recently, a manager from a leading global technology company told me his company has two fundamental decisions to make each time an interview panel (consisting of the responsible hiring manager and at least two peers) completes a job-interview. Does the candidate have the requisite job skills and will they fit into the company culture? As an example, he explained that in a recent round of job interviews, he participated in no-less than thirteen interviews without success because any single panel member was able to veto his (or another’s) assessment of the candidate’s suitability. No discussion or justification was required. This manager’s plan, to avoid any equivalent interview merry-go-round in the future, is to unconditionally accept all candidates if no-one is approved after the first 5 short-listed interviews. Otherwise he is taking unnecessary time away from his own job responsibilities. I would suggest that this approach will not result in any improvement in the quality of new hires.    

Do YOU think they are resilient?

A former long-standing manager (20 years +) at another leading global technology giant was the acknowledged ‘champion’ in selecting and developing senior sales consultants within the Asia Pac region. He was so successful that the group HR director asked him to share his ‘secrets-to-hiring’ process. He outlined the following insight.

He said he initially qualified, in detail, a short-listed candidate’s specialist industry experience and knowledge as well as their background and their evidence to support their claims of ‘super-sales’ competencies. More importantly, because he understood the reasons many people ‘failed’ at this company, he qualified a candidate’s potential resilience to work in an environment which was characterised by a relentless fast-pace, insufficient group-wide collaboration, and an overwhelming scale of solution offerings, organisational network and continuous technology change. Thus, he conducted exhaustive, multi-dimension interviews with each candidate to understand their passion for the POSITIVE attributes of the job opportunity (global clients, leading-edge technology, and intelligent co-workers) as a counterweight to the NEGATIVE attributes which contributed to high turnover. His focus was to simply determine the candidate’s capacity to get out of bed each morning because they enjoy their work. This approach, he told me proudly, could not be replicated easily by many other managers at his former organisation, and this was the reason he was so highly regarded. So, while this may be a great outcome for this particular manager, it will deliver no hiring  improvement across the organisation.

Is everyone else in agreement with what YOU think?

If you are successful in answering the question ‘Who do YOU think they are?’ there are additional hiring related issues: how do you get all the other key stakeholders in agreement so there is organisational consistency and efficiency in decision making: a) by removing subjective hiring bias; b) by reducing the number of interview sessions; c) by reducing the dependency on long-serving people with in-house corporate knowledge?

Manage ‘Talent Assets’ like ‘Credit Assets’

Best-in-class organisations use statistically valid psychometric ‘JobFit’ assessments to compare short-listed job candidates against the critical success attributes of existing proven high-performers. This is a process not dissimilar to the risk-management strategies used by Retail Banks worldwide, which make lending decisions for products such as ‘credit cards’ and ‘personal loans’. A bank takes a sample of existing GOOD and BAD credit customers, as well as applicants they have previously rejected, and use statistical analysis tools to identify the leading predictors of credit risk. Weighted measures are applied to each characteristic and these are combined into a credit score-card for all new applicants. A credit product is offered to any applicant who completes an application and who exceeds a credit ‘cut-off’ score. These are very effective tools for controlling portfolio bad-debt levels and future write-offs.

In the same way, ‘talent risk management’ strategies can be developed by measuring and reporting the leading job characteristics of existing high-performing individuals. These ‘high-performance’ characteristics are used to contrast each candidate’s score for ‘Overall Job Match’. This process helps screen all short-listed candidates to highlight those that achieve a score of 80% or higher – at the same time, this process reduces the subjective personal bias of interviewers, unnecessary interview sessions with candidates who fail to meet the high-performance profile, and a dependency on the knowledge of long-term corporate staff. So, just like credit risk management tools protect credit assets, these JobFit assessments protect a company’s investment in talent assets and reduce the talent equivalent of new hire ‘write-offs’. They report which candidates have the best job match profile and provide an array of specialised interview questions to help the interviewer in their preparation and conduct of a candidate interview. So, no longer do you need to think who they are, these tools will consistently tell you - without bias, without dependency on long-term corporate knowledge, and without the need for multiple time-consuming interviews.

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