You’re looking to fill an open position, and it’s currently a race between two. There’s John, the candidate with the impeccable resume, who had a silky-smooth answer to every interview question you fired his way. Then there’s Jennifer, who didn’t tick as many boxes on paper, and who, despite coming across very personable and genuine, struggled to find her words in the interview.
You’d think the best choice is John, right? Perhaps not.
The truth is that many hiring processes are standardised and can be learned and exploited by experienced candidates. Many employers rely on common interview questions, generic assessments and other techniques that can inhibit them from revealing the true suitability of prospective talent. In the example above, John may appear to be the best candidate, but when pushed further, it’s quite possible that Jennifer could be the right candidate.
So, if this is the case, how can an employer reliably differentiate between hiring the best candidates and the right candidates for their organisation?
According to this Leadership IQ study, the hard, technical skills found on a resume account for just 11% of hiring failures. This means the remaining 89% can be attributed to soft skills; things like attitude, personality and cultural fit.
Evaluating these intangible skills is challenging, and is becoming an increasingly important part of any recruiter’s job. Below are five ways to do just that ensuring you hire the right talent for your organisation..
How well does a candidate align with the personality, philosophy, goals and motivations of your organisation? A cultural fit assessment seeks to answer exactly that. Ask the candidates questions like:
A personality test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator may be helpful in identifying how well the candidate will work with others, or how they might fill a temperamental gap in your team. Gamified assessments are also becoming more popular, with such options often delivered by companies that specialise in providing cultural fit assessment solutions.
A company must first know itself before it can identify a perfect candidate. If you can’t define your culture, then it’s almost impossible to secure the right talent.
Why did Jennifer underperform in the interview? There are a range of possible reasons, many of which could be totally separate from her ability to do the work. The truth is that no matter your age, experience or fit for a role, interviews are high-pressure situations that can trip up even the most ideal candidates. If a candidate is anxious or an introvert, the interviewer could fail to see the valuable professional that lies beneath.
Instead of just relying on talk, it’s often beneficial to put a candidate’s skills to the test. Ask unique questions that negate the use of pre-prepared answers. Even better, give the candidate a problem to solve or action to complete, allowing them to demonstrate their skill set.
Abstract questions or tests that take an interviewee by surprise can also help to remove the prim and proper candidate facade and get to the heart of whether this individual is right for your team.
References are an incredibly valuable and often underutilised source of information. They can paint a clear picture of the performance and demeanour of a candidate from a broadly unbiased third party.
Ask past employers questions like:
Be conscious that a candidate may have selected a particular reference because they know they will receive a positive review. If you get a sense that there are skeletons in the closet, dig deeper to find them with more probing questions.
We all bring inherent bias to the table; it’s part of human nature, for better or worse. This makes hiring the right candidate a challenge, as we tend to gravitate towards people we like or people who are similar to ourselves. Often this bias can mask the most objectively suitable person for the job resulting in a sub-optimal hiring decision.
To overcome this bias, use multiple managers (2-3) to interview candidates through a hiring process. Not only do many hands make light work, many perspectives make better decisions. A diverse mix of interviewers will enable you to gather deeper insights on each candidate to make a superior hiring decision.
The traditional interview demands that a candidate dress, speak and act a certain way. This means that the person being interviewed isn’t a particularly authentic representation of the human you have sitting in front of you, or the human you need in your organisation.
Mix things up by making the interview less formal. In some ways COVID has forced the hands of many companies in this respect, as candidates are interviewed in virtually home offices and bedrooms. In terms of traditional interviews, consider taking a candidate out for coffee or to lunch, and witness how the dynamics of an interview shift markedly. You can also observe and analyse unique personality and behaviour: watch their interactions with staff, for example. A relaxed setting may just be what’s needed to allow the true nature of a candidate to shine through.
Securing top talent isn’t about hiring what convention deems to be the best person, or relying on a traditional or standardised recruitment approach. It’s about finding the right person – the one who not only has the technical proficiency to perform a role, but one who also aligns with your philosophy and will gel well with your team.
With almost four decades experience helping organisations hire this type of candidate, you can trust Ignite to help you find the right candidates for you. Get in touch with our friendly team today.