Right Person — Right Job! Part III: Make Sure the People You Hire ‘Fit’

Over the past two weeks I have covered different aspects of what makes up a world class recruiting function. Today I continue that discussion with point number 3. To refresh your memory, these are the six qualities that MUST exist for world class status: 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 3. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 4. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 5. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 6. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) How do you assess candidates? And even more importantly, how do you define the position in the first place? For the past several years there has been an emphasis on developing competency profiles for positions often based on the skills of incumbents. This is beginning to replace the traditional job description that has become increasingly meaningless and generic. The competencies usually consist of a series of skills or abilities that a person needs to have to effectively perform a particular position. And, depending on how well the people performing the analyses are trained and on how much data, whether objective or subjective, that exists about a position, the more accurate the competency profiles are. There are 3 things a recruiter must be aware of about competency profiles: 1. How accurate are they? Do they really discriminate between positions. For example, if you were to use the competency profile for a particular type of accountant would the profile really distinguish one type from another? In my own experience, most competency profiles are too generic to be as useful as they could be for recruiters. The best lists contain very specific skills required to do that job, as opposed to some other job. I get particularly irritated by lists that include such items as “business skills” or “strategic thinking” as 80% of all positions require those. Useful competencies are very specific and very much tied to a particular job. The danger is that those skills may not be those that are really needed to excel. 2. Are they recent? Has the job been significantly changed since the profile was developed? Many job profiles, especially in the high tech world, can become obsolete very quickly. 3. Are they measurable? Can it be determined in a screening process whether or not a candidate has these competencies. In many cases, competencies might include things like good team skills, or ability to deal with customers in a friendly manner. Subjective competencies are difficult to discern and may only be known after the candidate is on the job. So useful competencies are those that are accurate, timely and can be readily determined through resumes, interviews, or some other means. Many companies offer help in developing competency profiles including Skillscape. Testing of all Types: Over the years many tests have been developed to help select candidates based on psychological profiles or other criteria, but these can get you into legal hot water and may or may not be any more accurate than other methods such as behavioral interviewing. A company in Minnesota called Select Profiles claims that by using profiling and testing you can get a 75% success rate in your recruiting versus only a 14%-26% success rate using interviewing and background screening. Behavioral interviewing and structural interviewing all have their place in the spectrum of things we do to find the right people, quickly and at low cost. Interviewing tools, however, are subject to all the weaknesses and whims and fancies of human beings. We tend to like people who are like us. We tend to respond to body language and dress, more than to what is actually being said. The Gartner Group recently conducted a survey that showed a higher success rate for employees who had been interviewed over the phone rather than in person. The suspected reason is that the phone filtered out the physical — the body language, the clothes, and the racial types — and focused the interviewer more on content. Let Candidates Screen Themselves: An emerging technique is to proactively let potential candidates screen themselves. There are several web sites that now explain positions to candidates and ask them to take short ‘interest’ tests. A good example of this is called the Microsoft Skills 2000 Aptitude Tool and is found on the Microsoft web site. Microsoft’s tool asks interested persons about 80 multiple choice questions about their interests and skills and then directs them to job types. The site gives a brief description of each job type and allows candidates to then apply for job that seem to match their interests and skills. As this is purely voluntary and has no direct connection to getting an interview or a job, it is legal and even fun! At the same time, Microsoft collects information about who is taking the test, what common answers are, what percentage are ‘qualified’, and so on. This adds to Microsoft’s considerable knowledge and skill in attracting good candidates. Another new web-based tool is called Recruiter and was developed by a company called World.Hire in Austin, Texas. This tool allows you to advertise your positions, pre-qualify candidates, and focuses on attracting the passive job seeker as well as the active one. I will devote a column to this company at a later date. IBM is using this tool effectively on its Global Services web site. What We Do Know: We know that providing candidates with ways to self-screen is an effective way to reduce the number of people applying for jobs which they are truly not qualified for nor interested in. We know that providing a way to preview a job is an effective tool for letting people experience want the job would really be like. We know that interviewing, by itself, is rarely a good way to pick people. And we know that testing, while much of it is legally suspect, is increasingly becoming the most efficient and objective way of screening people. The bottomline here is simple: we need to find more sophisticated methods to screen people as the costs of recruiting increase and as the supply decreases. And, to my old adage, we do not necessarily want to screen people OUT of jobs. What we want to do is to screen people INTO the RIGHT job for them and the organization. The web makes doing all of this easier and cheaper, and I believe we will continue to see a variety of new web sites and companies who focus on providing screening tools of one kind or another so we can identify the right job and find the right person to fill it all the time! See you next week.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.