Do you really know what “Great” looks like when it comes to hiring?

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If you ask most leaders the following question; “when you are recruiting, do you want people of high talent or will anyone that is an approximate match do?” they will all, almost without exception, insist that they are only interested in the highly talented types. It will perhaps not surprise the reader that this is simply not supported by evidence. They can’t all be looking at the top 10% can they? It is rather like the statistic that says that a majority of people think they are above average drivers!

The truth is most people when they are recruiting tend toward the “any approximate match will do” approach, not by design, but by simple poor recruitment process.

The first part of that process must be to define what “Great” looks like to you the hiring manager and your company. This must then become the shared and communicated vision to all those that are involved in the recruitment for that role. Anyone that fails to share or understand that vision should either be educated better or removed from the recruiting team.

Note that I state that it is what Great looks like to you and your company specifically. Some of you may have seen the video clip I shared on LinkedIn recently of Jack Ma discussing the concept that because a candidate might be great for another company does not automatically mean that they are, ipso facto, ideal for yours.

The biggest mistake that is repeated time and time again by hirers is what I call the “Rose Tinted Spectacles Effect”. This is where too much emphasis is placed on something that is non-mission critical in the hire, causing the interviewer/hirer to overlook clear weaknesses of a candidate elsewhere. An example of this maybe where someone in a commercial role is favoured as they come from a closely aligned sector, or maybe have product or customer knowledge. Worse still, it could be that they went to the same school or university as the interviewer, and this is deemed to be a predictor of performance (yes it does still happen!).

The best way to define what Great looks like is to first establish what skills and competencies you need to do the role. Skills can sometimes be indicated by a person’s experience, but be careful about making easy assumptions. A list of skills and competencies needs to be agreed by the hiring team and then prioritised into those that are essential and preferable. If a person does not have skill “x”, what could they have instead to compensate? A scoring system that is weighted toward priorities can be established to help with the interview process.

Once you have established skills and essential competencies you have now a profile that will point you toward “Good”. If you really want to hire “Great” you must hire for attitude, drive and cultural fit. Great attitudes are pretty much universal to all high performers, and I discuss these in my soon to be published book “Hiring the Ultimate Salesperson”. They can be tested in interview and also by profile/psychometric testing. Drive is also highly important as this is the factor that will determine what makes the person want to do the job to the best of their capability, and is therefore dependant on an alignment between position and applicant. Cultural fit is much more orientated to your specific company, though do be very careful that it is not used as an excuse for non-diverse bias or even discriminatory behaviours. Cultural fit should look at shared values and approach. If there is a lack of cultural alignment you will have an unhappy employee and/or line manager, and therefore a poor performing team.

In my opinion, attitudes, drive and culture should (within reason) override all other considerations, simply because they are largely innate and cannot easily be taught, whereas many other requirements can be. Fundamentally, if your priority is always, say, to hire someone with a specific market knowledge, you will probably have to compromise on attitude and drive, and probably cultural fit too, simply because your potential talent pool will be too small. 

A Great candidate is one that has the skills to do the job, but most importantly has the attitudes and drive that will ensure outstanding success, combined with an alignment with your company values that ensure this individual will continue to perform and progress for years into the future. 

 If you have hiring needs and would like to discuss how to apply structured intelligent approaches to maximise your chances of hiring the very best people please follow this link.

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