How to stop listening to stories and start hiring skilled people.

People who like people,often like hearing people’s stories and most people think they’d be able to tell if someone wasn’t right for the job via the q&a model of recruitment. But feelings aren’t facts.

Think of a triangle as the representation from top to bottom of the management effort and support enacted across the working life of an employee.

Now invert it. If you’re a manager who has been a part of a bad hire you can see the trickle down effect of a bad hire and certainly want the inverted triangle of effort so you can manage the day-to-day running of your operations.

As a consultant it’s the same conversation I’ve had with hundreds of colleagues and clients. It starts with general disgruntled statements about people in the workplace who don’t seem to be able to complete the simple tasks required of them with a basic positive attitude. The conversation then tends to move towards all the coaching,training, reminding, disciplining and finally re-structuring that follows. The problem started at recruitment.

If you hire the best liar you can’t complain about getting a competent egomaniacal sociopath as a leader in your organisation.

We say mistakes are a part of innovation and positivity feeds creativity . But we hire for perfection. Often we hire people we like the feel of ,not the people we need who generally end up reflecting our own beliefs ,values and skills set.But the operation may not need another you…does it? Diversity of thought can be tough to accept in the recruitment process.

Skills pay the bills.

Interview questions do not test skills. They allow people to tell stories.

Yes a skilled listener can pick up on some motivations which may then be interpreted into what they will need to meet the gaps identified. Some profiling testing can even say what areas of work and characteristics the candidate will be “most likely” to demonstrate. Don’t get me wrong I use them and I really like a lot of them especially the TMS suite.But we’re still using opinion. Graded opinion perhaps but opinion.

Keeping in mind of course that the accuracy of responses rely on the candidate having a realistic sense of themselves in relation to others. Seeing themselves as they actually are, not how they think they are or would like to be seen. And seriously 72 questions? But profiling is for another day and even the best authors advise NOT to utilise their tools as a reliable source for hiring staff. More as an insight tool to encourage reflection and team discussions , once in the door.

So here, I’m just looking at basic skills that require problem solving, empathy, clear communication , the willingness to take direction and ask for help. The unimportant soft skills like customer service, communication, leadership and management of staff under duress.

Instead of using selection criteria ( which can be obtained for $40 on Airtasker) to tell me what a great team worker you are or how ( insert colourful adjective here) your written and verbal communication skills are ….lets test them.

I used to get people to send a paragraph or make a call to express interest of what drew them to the position and the skills they bring. Then, I audition people. Yes audition. You see with a background in theatre and in HR I’ve seen and worked with some of the best liars and sociopaths around as well as hiring some pretty awesome folks who’ve given quality discretionary effort over years way beyond my expectations. Some have been volunteer Barristers, Nurses, Drs and paid secretaries , artists and project managers as well as exec C suite types.

Here’s a starter – If I expect you to answer the phone with a certain manner and to provide a helpful and empathetic approach, I’m going to be clear about what I expect and then I put you in the room next door and give you three phone calls. One for basic information ( which I provide to you ) .

One disgruntled caller which can be resolved with active listening and empathy ( this tests how the person is under light duress and how their pitch, pausing and pace is used). And finally, one that needs you to ask for help from your manager to resolve ( this shows the ability of the person to ask for help or to help the client within their boundaries). It is simple and it works.

Write an email , Provide written feedback , Find costings for the following items…the list goes on and before you ask, yes it is all possible in 1 hour.

The preparation is the inverted triangle.In my opinion it’s worth every minute!

Of course you need to be clear on what success looks like and to measure based on skill but this is possible and interviewing the caller for customer satisfaction can help align to your organisations values also.

I love a story and they are useful but selection criteria and q&a sessions just don’t cut it.They waste everyone’s time and don’t add value to the process any more than asking the same questions over the phone.

Do you have any alternatives to criteria and Q&A’s in recruitment that have paid off? Please share them.I’m always open to a new concept for change.

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