This could be what is holding you back from finding the best talent. Being on the front lines I can say that there is a war for great talent for most roles right now. There is something, however, you could be doing that is preventing you from getting the best talent.
One of the flaws of hiring is that everyone’s approach is different. There is no uniformly successful way to hire that is repeatable and consistent, and when you have multiple different managers managing in the same company it gets even harder.
People make hiring decisions based on their own personal opinion and experience (obviously) – but there is a major flaw with this.
I’ll give you an example: We put forward a Sales Rep candidate for one of our clients. This candidate passed our screening, over-achieved every sales target previously set for them, passed our personality profile and had the required knowledge of the industry – BUT the client rejected this candidate due to one reason: this person reminded him of someone else who had worked for him who didn’t work out.
You may think this kind of thing doesn’t apply to you but I have not met a business owner yet who doesn’t exhibit this to some degree.
These ideas people have that they put in front of candidates is what can prevent them from seeing a gem and is what I call a Preconceived Idea.
PRECONCEIVED IDEA: an idea or opinion formed before having the evidence for its truth or usefulness.
Preconceived Ideas prevent one from seeing what is in front of them.
Here are the most common Preconceived Ideas I have seen:
1. “Good staff are expensive” – surprisingly, most of the highest performing staff I see are paid an average wage and reversely some of the least performing staff are paid the most.
2. “They are young so they don’t know what they want / must be immature” – a Preconceived Idea given to me by a client. When I asked what they observed that made them think this they
couldn’t answer. I ended up convincing them to hire and so far the staff member is fantastic.
3. “If they have spelling mistakes in their resume/emails – must mean they don’t care/are not professional enough” – ah, yes. A very common one. Putting such an idea in front of a candidate can prevent you from seeing their true value. Which is easier – make someone good at a job or install grammar software?
4. “The greater number of years in the role = better candidate” – another very common one that could not be further from the truth. When most employers are fighting over a candidate with the most years’ experience, you could be finding the true overachiever that is overlooked.
To be fair I will say some of these points matter more for some roles/industries than others. Nonetheless, it is clear with these examples that they are using the wrong yardstick with which to measure the potential value of a candidate.
When it comes to hiring, almost every client I have worked with had at least one Preconceived Idea that I could see prevent them from getting an incredible team member. But you know what – I don’t blame them. Those who have Preconceived Ideas use them because they actually do not know how else to judge the person on. This is a part of the whole problem with hiring.
This is part of why it is so hard. There is no standard way to look at candidates, so instead, we must use all of our own weird ideas to make judgement calls. This is why having a proven process or method to hire is so important – it will help you put your Preconceived Ideas to the side and focus on what is really important.
What is the point in hiring a team member who is “knowledgeable” if they cannot prove how they achieved what was set out for them in previous roles, or better yet – how they over-achieved?
How many times have you been shocked by someone? You had such a great gut feeling about them; they present so well, their resume is great, and they have the experience you’re looking for and yet you find out later, after wasting the time and money, that they’re not up to scratch.
Well – the reason people get duped is that they used the wrong method to measure their potential worth. They used reconceived Ideas.
So, what is the most important lens with which to look at candidates? OUTPUT.
Results, outcomes and the tangible value they’ve added to previous roles in amounts, percentages and
values is the most important screening intention.
Here are the top questions you should ask to determine their true value:
1. What was expected of you in your current / most recent role? (Get specifics on KPIs, deadlines, targets, etc.)
2. How did you perform against these expectations? (Get specifics in amounts and by how much – this is what you should Ref Check later)
3. How do you know you did a good job in this role? (Ask for specifics – overachievers receive praise, promotions, pay rises, amazing feedback from customers, etc.)
4. What achievements are you proud of in this role? (You want to see things like “I implemented a process that took 1 hour off everyone’s week with a team of 15 – saving 15 hours a week of work, etc. etc.)
From this, you can determine how much of an Overachiever the candidate is. Do this a few times and you will start to see very clearly the difference in achievement between candidates. You then can choose an Overachiever with 2 years’ “experience” over an Underachiever with 5 years experience.
If you can put aside your Preconceived Ideas, you can have access to candidates you never would have considered.
Article inspired by specialist talent recruiter Marnie Jones Founder and Director of Talent X