Did I REALLY recruit that person?

This is still one of the biggest ‘help’ calls I receive. Some poor stressed owner or manager has just gone through the laborious recruitment process, decided on a candidate and then discovered within weeks or even days, that they may have made a terrible mistake. The person just isn’t fitting in.

How can that be? How can we go through all the interviews and background checks only to find the person you have now certainly isn’t the person you interviewed.

There are several reasons we get it wrong:

  • We believe what they tell us
  • We ask the wrong questions
  • We are not totally sure what we are looking for
  • We recruit to fill the same job that has just been vacated
  • And the biggest mistake of all – WE RECRUIT IN OUR OWN IMAGE.

So let’s look at some of those challenges.

We believe what they tell us. So does this suggest the people are liars – not at all. But when people are looking for a job they are usually just as terrible at BEING interviewed as most of us are at conducting interviews. So they tell us what they think we want to hear. I can promise you also that the two biggest ‘fabrications’ all candidates make are the salary they are on and their actual involvement in a particular project, i.e. they may say ‘I managed a project on xyz when really they ‘observed’ a project on xyz’ which is why we must check references, check references, check references. And the question to ask then is ‘what was this person’s ACTUAL involvement in the xyz project?’

We ask the wrong questions. The answers we get will only be as good as the questions we ask. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in on interviews and heard the interviewer ask long winded questions will require only a yes/no answer. Listen to TV interviewers – they do the exact same thing. If you want to know something ask a ‘tell- me-about-a-time’ question. For example, if the job you are wanting to fill is a stressful job, then get the candidate to tell you about a time when they dealt with the most stress in their lives; how did they cope; what did they do to get through it.

We are not totally sure what we are looking for. Once again I can’t begin to tell you how many times the wrong people have been recruited because the owner or manager wasn’t 100% sure what they were looking for.

We recruit to fill the job that has just been vacated. I can imagine some eye popping going on right now. I bet you are saying ‘but that’s what we needed to do’. And my question is ‘Did you really need to do that or is it just the habit you’ve gotten into?’ By which I mean, when one of your team resigns, or even if you are looking to expand your team, think about the skills you DON’T have in the team, rather than the ‘job’ you are looking to fill. Jobs become obsolete, skills never do.

We recruit in our image. We recruit people we ‘like’ or people who speak our language. Which is why we end up with accounting teams full of detail people and sales teams full of expressive people. A team – any team – needs a balance of personalities otherwise we end up with ‘group think’. We all think alike so we actually stop thinking and we certainly stop asking questions that challenge our team.

Dame Anita Roddick summed up the recruitment process so well, she said ‘We went looking for employees but people showed up instead’.

Don’t give up on the person you’ve just recruited, give them time, give them a chance – look at the skills they’ve brought and work out how best to use them. It is too costly an experience, not just money-wise but stress wise to go through the whole process again.

Couple of offers:

I actually wrote a book ‘Did I Really Employ You?’ many years ago for just this purpose – it will give you so much more info alongside all the great questions to ask

I have a few free psychometric profiles to give away each month, so if you are knee deep in recruiting and you would like to have your final candidate profiled, e.mail me and I’ll set one up for you.

Ann Andrews CSP
Speaker, author, profiler, Life Member NSANZ

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