Just as some people may dread searching for jobs, there are even those in human resources who may feel stuck in a rut when it comes to recruiting.  Hiring managers may not have had consistent success with their hires and this may be because they simply haven’t taken the time to find winning formulas within their own organization to apply towards new hires or because they are overly reliant on a CV or an interview impression.

Start with No

One of the things we consider when looking at any candidate are reasons not to hire.  This is less about creating an adversarial relationship and more about trying to stay objective.  At the end of the day we are talking about human beings and we can form bonds of friendship (or enmity) quickly, and this can cloud our decision-making.  By keeping track of reasons not to hire someone, you are highlighting elements of risk.  You aren’t looking to have zero items on this list — all genuine candidates have weaknesses — but you are looking to have as few items as possible when you make your final decision.

Continue with Attitude and Track Record

People with great attitude will generally outperform people with great competence, if the two are held against each other.  The reason is simple: a workplace involves multiple personalities and while someone may be an expert in his/her field, if that person cannot communicate with others in an amiable and facile manner that expertise will be of no good to the team.

Apart from an interview or some exchanges of communication, be it over the phone or by email, what’s another way to detect attitude?  By looking at job types or job duration on a CV.  For example, if someone has experience waiting tables, that person has had to learn how to deal with people at every level – not just peers in the front and back of the house at the restaurant, but with (often) demanding customers.  This is a great example of reading between the lines or obtaining further information that gives you something that isn’t readily apparent to people on either side of a job hunt.

You can also look at job duration.  Let’s say someone has spent 8-12 years at a particular company, in pretty much the same department or position.  One might look at that and see stability, but we tend to see complacency.  This was someone who did not cross-train into a different division or take on more responsibilities, or didn’t move companies to find new challenges.  This is someone who found something they liked/were good at and decided to get comfortable and, consciously or no, stagnate.  Again, there’s unexpected subtext in a CV if you look closer.

Don’t Heavily Rely on Interview and CV

For many people the gateway to an interview is a CV, and the interview is a gateway to a job offer.  Realistically, these should only be two factors you use.  As noted above, hiring managers can sometimes fall in love with a candidate and start to focus on qualifications rather than on finding the right talent for the right job.  In fact, it’s key that the hiring manager write each job description.  This forces him/her to ask questions that help that hiring manager craft not just a list of duties and qualifications, but a profile of a great hire.

We also don’t take a traditional view of reference checks.  We know that people who are listed on a resume generally love that candidate and will speak well of them.  Instead we will take a look at places the candidates have worked, and whenever the law and culture allow for it, inquire at companies the candidates have worked at to get another (probably more objective) point of view.

Finally, we instantly eliminate people who give fluff answers to the “greatest strength” or “greatest weakness” interview question.  Yes, we know you “work too hard” and you “can be a perfectionist” but those sorts of answers won’t cut it.  Be honest, straightforward, and admit what you’re proud of and what you’re self-aware of and are working on.  Honesty and transparency will be valued over the obviously false picture that you have no problems.

Look Within

Part of building that profile of a great hire is looking at your top 10-15% of current performers.  What are their characteristics?  Where did they go to school?  What kind of work did they do before?  Which companies did they work for?  Any and all commonalities among these top performers should be scrutinized, and if possible, added to the DNA of a good hire.  If people from a certain school consistently perform well at the company, then that should be a plus in the applicant’s application.  If we know, according to a DISC profile, that a “High D” is best-positioned to perform a particular role, then we know that a High S or a High C will not be a good fit, and so on.  There’s no excuse for ignoring your own talent as a template for future hires.

If you want to recruit and retain better than everyone else, you have to do things differently than everyone else.  Look interiorly, stay objective, and give attitude and track record equal weight to an interview and CV.

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