Getting What You Need In Hiring
You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need. – (M. Jagger / K. Richards)
If you ask interviewers what they want to see in a candidate on a first interview, they will often cite things like this: confident, intelligent, knowledgeable, positive attitude, solid resume, neatly groomed, well-mannered, articulate, energetic, makes good eye contact, has good handshake. First impressions are powerful according to the best executive search firm. They also are entirely superficial.
Ask a boss what they got from a good performer, one year after the hire, and you will hear things like this: Takes action and gets results. Takes initiative and exceeds expectations. Works hard, and leads by example. Team player with good leadership skills. Solves problems. Creative thinker. Decisive.
Why the difference in the lists? Because as Mr, Jagger and Mr. Richards point out, we have to try sometimes before we find we can get what we need and make sure a good hire is dynamic. We have to know how to predict in advance that the actions will occur, the leadership will be demonstrated, the problems will be solved. How? By establishing specific performance objectives for the job, and evaluating the candidate’s specific ability to produce the results – then you get what you NEED.
It is not enough to merely ask behavioral questions like, “How have you demonstrated leadership?” Textbooks provide stock answers for the candidate to recite. It is far more valuable to ask questions like this: “We need someone who can transform a culture of ‘tribal knowledge’ into a modern, lean, metrics-oriented team, so we can increase capacity and drive 30% growth. What have you done that would specifically enable you to achieve this goal?” It is easy to see how the answer to this far more specific, context-driven question will reveal far more about the candidate’s ability to succeed in your environment, and achieve your goals.
The interviewer who relies on their gut reaction to superficial attributes and generalized behavior traits is taking very big risks in hiring. Candidates can game that interview, and fail once on the job.
Investing the effort in defining your specific goals is like painting sharper lines on the bull’s-eye – it makes it much easier to hit the target and make sure it is the right timing to hire.
We doubt that a well-spoken person with a firm handshake is all you really want. So look beyond the usual first interview superficial criteria, and try sometimes (to set up stronger evaluation standards), and you just might find, you get what you need. Or, call us for help – we do this on every project!