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Why recruiters have it all wrong – part 2

Have you ever worked with someone who, on paper, looked like the perfect person for a job, but over time it turned out they just didn't have "what it takes" to be successful in the role? In the previous post we looked at some of the pitfalls of the traditional hiring process, and why it can be fatal for a company that is hiring in order to grow. The reality is, most interviewers are great at spotting people with the right skills for a job, but not necessarily the few who have "what it takes" - especially if the interviewer hasn't, themselves, done the job they're interviewing for. So what can we do to avoid those pitfalls? How do we know if someone will have "what it takes"?

Have you ever worked with someone who, on paper, looked like the perfect person for a job, but over time it turned out they just didn't have "what it takes" to be successful in the role?

In the previous post we looked at some of the pitfalls of the traditional hiring process, and why it can be fatal for a company that is hiring in order to grow. The reality is, most interviewers are great at spotting people with the right skills for a job, but not necessarily the few who have "what it takes" – especially if the interviewer hasn't, themselves, done the job they're interviewing for.

So what can we do to avoid those pitfalls? How do we know if someone will have "what it takes"?

I'm going to start with a little bit of theory, known as 4MAT. 4MAT is based on Kolb's learning styles. The idea is that there are four ways that people think about a situation: pragmatic (why do I do something), active (what do I do), theoretical (how do I do it) and reflective (what results do I get).

Most of us have a strong preference for one style over another (some people need to know the reason and practical use for what they are doing, or they wont do it. Others will do it just because they want a new experience. Others will do it as long as they will get to learn a new skill, and finally others will do it just to see what happens). Also, we tend to ignore the other aspects that we don't favour.

So, people who love learning above all else may study something for the joy of learning, even if it has no practical application: have you ever had a member of staff who got immersed in a piece of research even though it was clear early on that it wasn't going to take them (or the company) in a useful direction, or perhaps you have a memebr of staff that you need to rein in because if you didn't they would go off on those "useless" projects. Or are you enfuriated my a colleague who constantly questions the usefulness of your R&D proposals when all you want to do is see what happens?

Recruitment interviews tend to focus primarily on WHAT: what do we need the post holder to do, and what has the candidate done before? "Tell me about a time when you did X"

Then it typically moves on to WHAT IF: what results will the post be responsible for, and what results has the candidate generated in the past (and therefore what will they do for us if we hire them)?

Finally, with the clock ticking, and the next candidate waiting outside the door, we may take a nod in the direction of WHY: why do you want to work for us? Why should we hire you?

So here's a radical idea: you need to restructure you interviews completely!

1. WHY

Start your next interview by understanding the candicate's motivation. Ask questions to elicit their values and their passions: "What's most important to you about the work you do? What's most important to you about the companies you work for? Why did you take your last job? What did you most enjoy about it? What was missing? Why do you think this role will be a good match for you? Why do you think this company will be a good place to work? What do you do outside work, and why?"

2. HOW

Then find out HOW they think not WHAT they think. To do this you need to understand what in NLP we call "metaprogrammes". In brief, these describe the way that someone approaches a situation. It's the real difference between someone who flourishes in a team (and hates being cut off from its support) or someone who will take a project on alone and run with it (but would hate the mutual dependence and responsibility, and loss of control, that goes with teamwork). Metaprogrammes are vitally improtant to our understanding of our own and other people's behaviour and above all their results. That's why metaprogrammes are a major element of the NLP Master Practitioner course and the Business NLP Practitioner course that I run through Solution Academy.

It's the difference between someone who can think of the bigger picture (but hates being pinned down to the specifics of how to make that picture happen), or someone who is great at the detail (but can get lost in it, to the detriment of the overall aim).

it can be the difference between someone who needs their job to change and develop regularly (and will get easily bored by routine and leave) or someone who needs stability (and will leave if there is too much change).

In all there are 22 of these that you can look at, but the trick is to know which are the most important in your business, and in the specific role you are recruiting for, and what answers you want to hear from the candidate. To do that you need to find the people in your company who are the most successful, the ones who are striving. And then the people in the specific type of role that you are recruiting for. Then you need a trained expert to elicit their metaprogrammes. Finally, you need to train your interviewers to identify the metaprogrammes in the responses candidates give.

3. Filter out candidates before the next round

At this stage you can, if you want, weed out a large number of candidates: the ones who, regardless of their skills, either won't fit in at the company (because they don't have what it takes to be successful in that environemnt) or won't make the grade in their job (because they don't have what it takes to be successful in the role).

Why bother testing their competencies if you know they won't be successful, whatever their skills, ecperience and qualifications?

4. WHAT-IF

Now we're back on more familiar ground: tell me about past successes. but our focus is on potential. So it's not about getting the candidate to prove that they can generate results with the specific skills you need. What you want is a track record of achievement in ANY skillset, but especially the ability to RAPIDLY learn new skills and generate results: ask about training they've had, what they did to put it into use quickly, and what results they generated.

You can also do what in NLP we call "future pacing": get the candidate to imagine they're in the job already and ask them what results they think they'll be generating, and how they'll be doing the job.

5. WHAT

By now you should have a pretty good idea of whether you're hiring this person or not. you may even have decided that they may not be right for this role (maybe theire metaprogrammes are all wrong for it) but that they might fit in somewhere else in the organisation.

So now you can finally ask about specific skills using all the questions you would usually have started off with, before you read this post.

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