Founder & CEO of the Business of HR.
We all want to hire the best, and yet very few invest in training recruiting teams and people leaders on what this actually means. There is a belief that if you’re an expert in your industry and you rise to the ranks of manager or higher, somehow you also understand the practice of facilitating meaningful interviews and selecting the best talent for your organization. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Early in my career, I recognized one of the biggest gaps in the selection process is that most, especially those who work outside of HR/TA, are just “winging it” and continue to rely on old methodology, mindsets and processes. The old, “Walk me through your résumé” route is still very much alive and kicking.
According to a fall 2022 Deloitte survey, “a majority of CEOs (71%) expect talent shortages to continue in general and nearly all CEOs (94%) expect to see talent shortages for certain roles.” Most hyper-focus on where someone went to school, their GPA and if they worked at a Big 4 or FAANG. I’m not here to diminish the value of working at any of these companies; they are revered for a reason.
However, understand that simply having worked for a well-known organization doesn’t mean an employee will be amazing on all fronts at their next organization. We have to consider more than just credentials, the “what” (their title, former company, school, degree or GPA), and start appreciating the “how.”
The “how” defines one person’s success and another’s failure in any given organization. Being able to extract this information and gain a deep understanding during the interview is critical to making the best decision.
The “how” is what separates two equally credentialed individuals and a primary way to exponentially increase inclusion within your organization, by recognizing behaviors and habits can be learned and built from myriad experiences.
The “how” is the way in which someone executes the work they do: How someone collaborates (or doesn’t), solves problems, takes ownership or passes the buck, asks for help, focuses on the customer, communicates, etc. How does the way in which this candidate executes their work align with your company’s values and culture?
Imagine with me for a moment that you have two equally credentialed candidates. Both candidates attended the same school, graduated with the same GPA, had the same internship and were hired by the same company. Both were successful at this first job and were ready to move on. They each get a new job at different companies.
Candidate A flourishes, receiving accolades and exceeding goals and is even up for a promotion in just six short months. Candidate B is struggling, frustrated, not hitting their goals and feels like they are constantly swimming against the tide, and after six months is ready to leave. How is this possible if they have the exact same credentials?
The difference is in the “how.”
Defining Your Organization’s Values
Every organization has its unique ways of doing things.
Some are highly collaborative and make decisions as a team, meeting frequently to discuss projects, ideas and daily tasks, while others are very autonomous, siloed, tactical and rarely partner on decisions or ideas. Some organizations value extreme transparency and openness in communications at all levels, sharing failures, risks and challenges. In contrast, others have very hierarchical communication pathways that must be followed or you’re considered disrespectful or worse.
The way in which we execute the work we do is what informs and shapes the cultures of our organizations. Having a clear understanding of all these elements and being able to assess a potential candidate’s ability to align with these, or to influence them to change, is absolutely critical if you want to hire the best. The “best” is subjective and not defined by credentials.
I once worked with a hiring manager in IT who had several openings to fill. He emailed me the job posting he had been using for the past five years but was too busy to meet with me and just wanted the recruiters to fill his jobs. I caught him in the break room one day and jumped right in asking him questions like, “Tell me how you define success and what failure looks like. How does your team communicate with each other? What are the values you and your team hold most dear?”
He said that in IT, all that matters is if they know how to code. I asked, “I imagine you have no disciplinary issues, haven’t fired anyone ever, your customers are thrilled with their results and your hiring needs are for growth, is that right?” There was silence. He then said that has nothing to do with the way he hires, that’s just the market these days. In asking what his team’s average tenure is, he said six months. Realizing that answering these types of questions could in fact help hiring, he finally gave me the opportunity to discuss the job posting with him.
Identifying your organization’s values can help you then identify the type of talent that most closely aligns.
Aligning The Hiring Process With Values
People are more than their output. Anchoring the hiring process to our desired values, habits and behaviors versus credentials can improve your hiring and open up current employees to look at the work they do in a different way. It gives voice to concerns and challenges your people have that you may not even realize.
In my experience, leaders who understand and define the “how” tend to have better hires, more diverse ideas and teams, and improved retention, which is what all CEOs want.
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