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Why the most qualified job applicants aren’t always the best hires

Why the most qualified job applicants aren’t always the best hires

21/06/2017 - Amanda Potter

Imagine you are recruiting for a sous chef for your mid-range high street restaurant and a celebrity chef with Michelin Star credits strolls up to the bar and hands over his CV.

You’d employ him immediately, right? Why bother interviewing anyone else?

Actually this would be a classic recruitment mistake, judging an applicant on just a fraction of what is important for them to be a success.

Employers all too often fall into the trap of hiring based on skills, experience and knowledge. This may seem logical on first glance, but it is only part of the picture.

Beyond skills

While skills, experience and knowledge are important - you certainly wouldn’t hire someone without these elements - you need to look much deeper if you are going to get the best person for the role.

The basic competencies of skills, knowledge and experience are mainly based on the past. They cannot tell you much about what that person will be like working for your organisation.

BeTalent’s Blueprint tool uses an equation to identify not only these core competencies, but also the strengths, tenets (values), aspirations, engagement and intelligence of an individual and of an employer.

If you can find someone who is aligned with your business strategy in all these ways, you are on to a winner.

Future Fit

Going back to the chef analogy, you clearly need someone able to cook, who has cooked to a certain level and who has some specific knowledge about cooking. If you hire the best person according to these factors, you will get someone sufficient for today.

The difference is that if you can hone your strategy to ensure you are hiring based on the whole blueprint, you will get someone who is not just good but great – and not just for today but for tomorrow.

We know from research that only 5% of high performers are high potential – that is to say, they have it in them to improve in a way that helps the employer.

You are unlikely to recruit a high potential worker by recruiting on behaviours and expertise; you may not even get someone high performing.

What you really want is an employee who will work well in the future: someone who is more likely to stay happy, productive and engaged over the longer term, helping the business to grow.

Matching Values

So how do you find those high potential people who will stick with your organisation and help it to grow?

You need to make sure you hire someone with the right strengths and tenets (values) so that they have a sense of purpose and motivation.

A chef working in the Army might need to have community values and to care about protecting their nation. In turn, he or she may not be suited to a job cooking for corporate billionaires.

A lot of recruitment processes miss this basic element – will a job help a candidate fulfil their purpose?

For example, My purpose is to make the world of work a better place by helping everyone to discover what energises them at work and develop what they do best. I achieve my purpose, by designing and sharing our BeTalent tools with our clients to help them to increase the fit between the individual and their organisation.

If a chef’s aspiration is to get status and recognition from peers, they may not want to work in a mid-range restaurant, or to be a number two. Over time they may then not perform as well as someone who is less qualified on paper, but driven to succeed in the role you want them to play.

Identifying Strengths

Alongside tenets (or values), which we measure with the Culture Fit tool, strengths are the things that make people passionate and individual.

They are things we enjoy, focus on and get good at. They energise us and enable us to succeed.

As an employer your success will come from recruiting people based on their strengths. If people’s strengths are identified and aligned to what the business needs, they are more likely to thrive in their role, and the business in turn will benefit from that stronger performance.

An individual’s strengths can be identified using the Strengths questionnaire. This can be completed before an interview and then validated by a subsequent conversation with the individual about the profile that the questionnaire has generated.

Aspirations, Engagement & Intelligence

An individual may have the strengths and values you are looking for in an employee, but if they do not share common aspirations with you - for example they work to live and you want people to live to work - then you’ll have a static employee.

It is the same story if they are unengaged from your challenges and goals, or if they are not intelligent enough to be agile in their learning.

We use a further range of tools to measure aspirations and engagement, such as specific guided interviews about how they’ve handled certain situations.

Emotional, social and cognitive intelligence can be measured by questionnaires, interviews and reasoning tests. It is very robust, properly validated and we give specific, measurable answers.

Going back to the chefs, imagine Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey applied for the restaurant role at the start of this article. Both would undoubtedly bring great qualifications, but – at least according to their public images and reputations – they might bring very different outcomes to a business.

Who would inspire your staff? Who would be inspired by you? Who would stay and help your business grow?

With the changing shape of work, the pace of technology and increased competition, we need the right people more than ever. They are our best asset and greatest risk.

Written by Dr Amanda Potter, Chartered Occupational Psychologist and CEO of BeTalent and Zircon Management Consulting


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