There’s a lot less science involved in most interviewing decisions than job-seekers realize. I wrote an article for LinkedIn a few weeks ago, Five Things You Must Not Do in an Interview and Five Things You Must, to help job-seekers avoid the most common interviewing blunders and improve their interviewing skills. These were based on my book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired.
Once job-seekers have mastered these five basic DOs and Don’ts, they can further improve their interviewing odds by altering how interviewers make
hiring decisions. When evaluating candidates, most interviewers emphasize
a candidate’s level of direct skills and experience, and the quality of the
person’s interviewing presentation skills. From this, they make judgments
about the candidate’s overall ability, team skills, work-ethic, resourcefulness,
cultural fit, and future potential, among others. While these factors are useful
indicators of on-the-job success, there's a lot of guesswork involved when making
the actual assessment.
For candidates who aren’t a perfect match on the skills side, or don’t
possess the “right” interviewing personality, there are some ways to proactively
shift the interviewer’s decision towards a more balanced assessment. It starts
by recognizing that when interviewers make their assessments, they focus on just
a few of these five sources of information.
How Interviewers Make Their Hiring Selection Decisions
The best way for a candidate to be more fairly assessed is to
ask questions to refocus the interviewer’s attention toward factors that
actually predict performance and away from those that don’t. Asking questions
early in the interview about the job itself, the challenges involved, the
resources available, how it became available, and how it relates to other areas
of the business is the best way to make this shift. Just asking the questions
brands the candidate as assertive, insightful and responsible. Knowing what the
job is really about allows the candidate to then provide detailed 1-2 minute
examples of comparable accomplishments. As part of this, it’s important to
describe how new skills were learned and used, if there is a gap on this
Box-checking skills and making important hiring decisions based
on personality and presentation skills, preclude a lot of great people from
getting hired for jobs they're fully capable of handling. Focusing the
assessment on factors that better predict success will not help a person get a
job he or she doesn’t deserve, but it will certainly help these people get one
Originally Posted On: Linked IN By: Lou Adler
Hand-wringing about the American public school system happens a lot these days. Test scores are disappointing; funding is being squeezed, and there’s constant arguing about how to make the shiny allure of classroom technology pay off.But there’s nothing like spending time with bright, focused students — and their teachers — to rekindle optimism. Earlier in June, I got a chance to host a Google hangout with students from three standout public schools: the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Pa., Chappell Elementary in Green Bay, Wis., and Loris Elementary in Horry County, S.C.
I described the schools in more detail here on EdSurge. These students are wickedly fluent in technology. What gets them excited about learning, however, are not the gadgets they have but what they do with them.
We didn't have much time to prepare for the hangout. A few minutes before we went live, I told the teachers and students that I'd ask them to describe a couple of their favorite projects. The kids were giggling and whispering; I wondered whether we'd be able to fill a half an hour.
When the cameras began to roll, however, the students were poised, articulate, funny and frank. Loris students described projects that involved creating a book about what they found at the beach and building Glogster presentations about Civil Rights. Some of Chappell's students studied problems in the Sudan--and then raised $500 to build a well there. Other Chappell students investigated charges of child labor. And every student at the Science Leadership Academy had a unique and impressive project, from building websites, online portfolios and games, to exploring the science behind local transit using probeware to scripting and filming their own movies and plays.
There were no gimmicks. No single technology vendor could take credit for what the students in these schools were doing. At the same time, the teachers needed all the support that technology could muster to support the array of projects that the kids were doing.
"Kids are owning their learning. Even in kindergarten, they're not saying, 'So what?' They're taking action and understanding they have a role in this world," says Chappell Principal Kris Worden. "When we can trust in ourselves to release to the kids, the learning and power will come in."
Students put it another way: "We've learned to be self-reliant," said a student at the Science Leadership Academy. When students couldn't find a teacher able to answer or guide them through a knotty problem, they sought out tutorials and videos online. A Chappell fifth grade student was equally clear: "We don't just do a report and then we're done with it. We do multiple things, we dig deeper and kind of challenge ourselves."
Project-based learning "allows kids entry points where they are. That's incredibly important," says Chris Lehmann, founder and principal of the Science Leadership Academy. "If you are ready to accelerate, you can run with it. A kid who needs more basic skills can go at a different pace. A project is done when it is has met everyone's expectation. A student has a sense of completion about it."
As chief executive of EdSurge, which is providing news and a database of resources all about education technology, I’m devoted to sharing best practices -- in the hopes that they help speed progress everywhere. I’ve learned that no single remedy will fix everything. Teachers, parents, government and tech companies all have huge roles to play. And only by working together can full success take hold.
These schools are unusual--but not alone. Just before our hangout went live, President Obama visited the fourth on my list of standout districts: Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina. Last year Mooresville was the second-highest achieving district in North Carolina, even though it ranged in the state’s bottom 10% in funding per student. In fact, the Google hangout came about because President Obama traveled to Mooresville Middle School to announce the ConnectEd initiative, a commitment to getting high-speed bandwidth into just about every school in the country within the next five years.
We expect to hear more about such schools in the future--and to share those stories. How can you be anything but excited when you hear a fifth grader say: "We don't just do a report and then we're done with it. We do multiple things, we dig deeper and kind of challenge ourselves."
Originally Posted On: Linked In By: Betsy (Elizabeth) Corcoran
The quality of the individuals you hire is central to the effectiveness of your team, and crucial to your overall success.Getting the right people on board is a top priority at Angie’s List, especially as our employee roster has ballooned from one – me – to more than 1,400.
Employees carry out our company mission every day, so I want to hire people who are:
When I hire, I put a major focus on the face-to-face interview. A candidate may seem like a perfect fit on paper and over the phone, but there’s no substitute for witnessing his or her energy and approach in person.
You learn things in interviews you might not otherwise discover. This is as true for a prospective employee as it is for the manager. I remember going on a job interview where the supervisor’s style caused me to cross that company off my list. He would ask a question, I would answer, and he would say, in a monotone, “Thank you." Nothing else. No details, no give and take, no enthusiasm. This interaction told me it likely wouldn’t be an environment where I would be challenged and excel because I truly value feedback from my mentors and peers.
When I’m doing the interviewing, I want to know what attracted the candidate to Angie’s List, what interests him or her most about the job and why he or she is leaving the current or previous employer.
I’m always on the lookout for bright, talented people to bring into the fold. Some of my best hires were people I didn’t necessarily have a position for, but whose abilities and personality motivated me to find or make a spot for them.
When choosing among qualified candidates, I seek the one whose strengths and abilities best round out my own and those of other employees. I want to build a team that includes people who excel in the areas where my team and I are least strong.
After all, a great team working on a mediocre idea will do better than a mediocre team working on a great idea. For one thing, you can count on an excellent team to transform the idea itself. And hiring right is the key to it all.
Originally Posted On: LinkedIn By: Angie Hicks
There is one core belief I’ve carried with me throughout my career: it’s all about the people. On multiple occasions, I’ve chosen one job over another because it would allow me to work with a stronger team, give me the opportunity to learn from a particular mentor, or in some other way be a better fit because of the people attached to it. Looking back on each of those decisions, I believe this core principle has served me well.
Once I began leading teams and companies, I used the same principle to ensure I built the strongest teams of individuals I could find. Great organizations are built by great people, and if you have the right ones on your team, you can accomplish anything, even when you need to adjust your strategy or your product, take on a new competitor, or react to a new trend in the marketplace – all of which are often required for success.
But when faced with a pool of talented people, how can you best decide whom to hire? In my 20 years of hiring experience, I’ve found that there are common traits that can predict whether someone will be successful on one of my teams, and I look for them during the interview process. Here are the 6 most important ones I’ve found.
1. Patterns of accomplishment: The strongest people I’ve hired have many examples of accomplishments throughout their lives. I almost always start interviews by asking people to tell me about their lives “before the resume,” and I look for people who have examples of accomplishment early in life. It doesn’t matter what the accomplishment is; it’s usually in some area that the person is passionate about – sports, or the arts, or activism, or academics. It can be anything. The simple fact that they cared enough about something to excel in it shows me that they have passion within and can bring that passion into their work. I have found that people who achieve at a high level early in life are self-motivated and tend to follow that pattern throughout their lives. They usually have many stories of projects they’ve initiated, teams they’ve helped be successful, and recognitions they received.
It’s notable that depending on the circumstances and the degree of privilege someone has early in life, that the definition of “accomplishment” can be different. For instance, for the students I taught at Breakthrough, becoming the first in their families to go to college was a huge achievement. People who have overcome large challenges in their lives also show patterns of accomplishment, maybe even more so than those whose lives have been easier. Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, two well-known Psychology professors, refer to this trait as “grit.” There is a great New York Times article that summarizes this topic well.
And, this does not mean that people who don’t have examples of early achievement can’t be successful later. I have certainly hired people who “bloomed” later in life. However, I have found early accomplishment to be a leading indicator of future success, so I hire people with it whenever I can. Companies are successful based on the results they deliver, and people with patterns of lifelong accomplishment tend to care about and consistently deliver results.
2. Passion and talent for their function: I look for people who have a real passion for what they do. That passion also usually indicates a natural “talent” for that function. The Gallup organization describes talents as “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” In other words, talents are innate. They are the things that come naturally to you, that you love, and have likely been doing throughout your life. Talent combined with skills and knowledge that you learn over time is what makes people truly great at their jobs.
It is possible to get very good at something by acquiring skills and knowledge, without an innate talent for it. However, people who are in roles they don’t have a talent for tend not to love those jobs. That’s why I look for passion.
One example is our new VP of Sales at Change.org, Amanda Levy. She loves sales. And she is really good at it. She describes how as a child, her father, who also had a natural talent for sales, described his work as “the transfer of enthusiasm between one person and another.” That is how she feels about it too. When she has something to sell that she really believes in, her pitches become chances to share opportunities with customers and create solutions for them. Between her natural talent and the skills and knowledge she gained from building out successful sales teams at Yelp and Twitter, Amanda was an obvious hiring choice for me.
3. Fast learners with strong fundamental skills: While it is important to have a natural talent in a functional area, it’s also critical to have strong fundamental skills and be able to learn new things quickly. There are underlying skills that are relevant across a variety of functions – critical thinking, analytical skills, strong writing and verbal communication – that I have found to be good predictors of success.
I get asked this question a lot about technical teams. Is it better to hire someone who is an expert at a particular coding language or technique or someone who is more of a generalist, good at learning new things? While there are different views on this question, based on my experience, I will always choose someone who is highly motivated and a fast learner with strong underlying skills over someone who is an expert at the thing we happen to be doing now. Without fail, the one thing that is constant in technology (and elsewhere, according to the adage) is change. We all know there will be new devices, new programming languages, and new approaches tomorrow that don’t exist today. I like to hire people who want to learn those new things and who want to be part of creating them.
4. Adaptability: Given this prevalence of change in the startup world, I have found that people who are comfortable with change in general tend to be more successful. In order to assess this skill, I usually ask very direct questions like, “Can you tell me about a time when your company or team went through a major change and how you handled that?” People who can describe situations where they adeptly maneuvered a period of change are especially valuable on teams.
When challenges arise, you want people on your team who will rise to those challenges and offer solutions, even if it means changing how they work or going outside of their functional role. I look for people who, while competent at their own function, are also open to expanding beyond their typical scope – people who will never say “that’s not my job” when asked to take on something new. Adaptable people want to solve problems even when there is no obvious “we’ve done that before” answer.
Billie Jean King, the groundbreaking women’s tennis player, described this trait so well in a Fresh Air interview she did this month. She said “champions adapt.” And, she described how she was successful by first envisioning all the things that might be out of her control – wind, rain, bad line calls, etc. – and then thinking through how she might adapt her own reaction to those things. Her reaction, after all, was the part she could control.
When I look back on the various roles I’ve had, change has been such a big part of the day-to-day, and how my team or company handled that change meant the difference between our success and failure. At Yahoo!, in the nine years I was there, we saw the advent of instant messaging, digital cameras, smart phones, the social graph, and so much more. At Dealmap, we changed our product (and our company name!) three times until we found something that worked. The people who adapted well to those changes personally and helped the company adapt, too, were the most valuable members of our team.
5. Values fit: Companies should understand their core values and look for people who exhibit those values. I admire the work Jim Collins has done around core values, which, as he describes, are “discovered” rather than prescribed.
Collins says, “Executives often ask me, ‘How do we get people to share our core values?’ You don’t. Instead, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere.” To me, this is spot on.
At Change.org, we recently went through a values articulation process, which I’ll write about in the future. We eventually landed on seven values we embrace as a company, three of which I’ll list here:
6. Diversity of perspectives: This is not necessarily a criterion to look for in any one candidate but, rather, across a set of people as you are building a team. It is tempting to hire people who are just like you, agree with your opinions, and won’t cause any conflict. This is usually a sure way to ensure failure.
In fact, there is a lot of research that suggests that companies built with diverse teams have better results. For example, the Catalyst Research that shows companies with more female board members outperform companies with fewer or no female board members.
As part of our core value of embracing openness at Change.org, we believe it is important to build teams of people that have a diverse set of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. I have found in my own experience hiring people that people who have different backgrounds than others on a team can be very effective at challenging the group and me to think differently and come up with better solutions.
And, while I look for people who have diverse perspectives, I also want people who will present those perspectives in a way that ensures they still build strong relationships with others. In other words, I still follow the “don’t work with jerks” rule I learned from my father. Essentially, make sure to hire people you will enjoy working with – people who treat others well and are generally good human beings.
Photo credit: DavGoss on Flickr
Originally Posted On LinkedIN: By: Jennifer Dulski
"We'll find value in players that nobody else can see. People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws. Age, appearance, personality." My Moneyball approach to hiring cuts straight through this problem...
You may have heard of Moneyball, the movie where coach Brad Pitt and economics nerd Jonah Hill use baseball stats to lead mid-tier team Oakland Athletics to an unprecedented 20-game winning streak. When finances were stretched, they believed that, of the 20,000 notable players in the baseball market, “there is a championship team of 25 people that we could afford, because everyone else in baseball undervalues them. Like an island of misfit toys.”
When his unconventional approach was questioned, Pitt hit back:
This is the new direction of the Oakland A’s. We are card counters, at the blackjack table, and we are going to turn the odds on the casino.”
Now I’m no statistician, and I have only a rather vague likeness to Brad Pitt, yet during my career I’ve developed my own ‘Moneyball’ approach to building teams of massive value. In these Moneyball teams, every player – maybe not the full package on their own – had a unique value-add, and, supported by a set of characters able to work together, was able to bring out their own special magic.
I’d like to tell you a story from earlier on in my career. I was working for a blue-chip global consultancy firm in London. My remit, within a reasonably tight budget, was “to beat McKinsey”, and build a team that could operate at the CEO level.
Normally, this firm would recruit candidates with top academic qualifications, from leading Ivy League schools. I wanted to try a more diverse approach, so instead we went to second-tier academic institutions, but looked for first-tier characters.
His name has been changed to protect his innocence, but I’d like to introduce you to Miguel, a small, stocky, eccentric and rather erratic Greek guy. He couldn’t communicate well. When you’d speak to him, he’d talk so fast, with no gap in his sentences, that you could barely make out what he was saying. Miguel had good qualifications – and I don’t want to cast any aspersions on the Greek education system – but he went to a school that we’d never heard of. He was unshaven, overweight, and shouted a lot.
Yet Miguel had a unique magic and a unique passion. He had an ability to analyze a company at a speed and depth that nobody else could even anticipate. Give him a company to look at, and a day and a night later, he’d have a 120-page report on company on my desk 8am next day that was fantastic.
Now he couldn’t present it. He wasn’t presentable in a corporate environment. We didn't care that he was a bit unconventional, as what he brought to the table was a key part of our value model. Miguel had a detailed analytical mind, a magic passion to find the killer insight, and frankly we were lucky to have him.
Hire For Exceptional Value & Character, Not Generic SkillsThe lesson here is that we should recruit on exceptional talent. Seek out those unconventional characters who haven’t quite made it or have had a setback; who are high quality but want to get back on the horse.
Why? Because in the long-term, failure can make you a much better leader. As Archie Norman, chairman at ITV and successful turnaround CEO at UK supermarket Asda (since acquired by Walmart) told me, Archie Norman:
“By the time it comes to 35, if it’s all gone swimmingly and it’s all pulled through and they have been mentored by the CEO and been on programs, that’s fine, but it’s a bit of case unproven.”
Where To Find Your Moneyball TalentYou could try placing a recruitment ad on LinkedIn or The New York Times with the headline “Talented Misfits Wanted”, but I wouldn’t recommend it. When you place a job ad, people still have the expectation that you will include some kind of job titles and role descriptions, so don’t veer completely away from the norm. Instead, consider advertising a number of positions at once, with a very broad salary range that would encompass both entry-level and much more senior roles.
Then, as the applications come in and you decide who to interview, positively discriminate for character over pure competence.
Here are some areas where we’ve consistently found color and character:
What this approach fails to do is to try to find what’s unique about a candidate, what their special magic is as a person.
So once you’ve got you’ve got your intriguing Moneyball candidate in front of you, get them to tell you their life story. You’re not trying to test on general competencies, rather to mine for core beliefs, talents, their magic. Then match that special talent and magic and see if you can find a role or focus area where they can add unique value within your company.
Daniel Dworkin, a consultant at Schaffer Consulting, in Stamford, Connecticut, agrees, arguing that cultural fit is more important than a box-ticking exercise against a narrowly-defined job spec: “Many companies don’t take competencies up a notch to include how an employee fits into the corporate culture… some companies haven’t even taken the time to figure out what makes their own enterprise unique.” He adds that, “a company can snag unique hires for less money, simply because those candidates – previously deemed to be corporate misfits – feel that they might feel more appreciated within your culture than elsewhere. Some workers are willing to take a hit in salary in exchange for working for a company that ‘gets’ their worth.”
Dworkin also agrees that diversity of skills matters, and that not every hire has to fit the perfect cookie-cutter approach:
“Just like in baseball, you need amazing fielders, relief pitchers and people who are good at stealing bases. You don’t need everyone to hit homeruns.”
At a late-stage interview for someone like the example of Miguel above, I like the “impossible job simulation test”. For example, to test his magic ability to take apart a company and his character. Pick a random company, hand him PC or an iPad with internet access, and give him 90 minutes to do as much research as he can on the company, before giving you a 15-min minute presentation on where the company is and where it should go. Here, you’re looking for resilience, determination and creativity more than the “right” answer.
The Moneyball Onboarding ProcessRather than offering “successful” candidates a full-time position immediately, I prefer a more incremental approach that builds trust and confidence on both sides.
Test a potential new hire’s commitment to the process by inviting them to put some “skin in the game”. This might be an unpaid or modestly paid small initial project that will quickly enable them to prove their worth. Those who are serious about joining your team will rise to the challenge and possibly show themselves capable of a bigger role than you had first envisaged.
As you hone in on a more realistic ongoing compensation package, be sure to include a significant performance-related bonus element that offers a upside for the new hire’s value and commitment – if they are able to make good on their early promise.
If you’re making a more experienced hire – perhaps somebody who’s had some time out of the labor market – or is making an active choice to switch from a more corporate path to a more entrepreneurial startup environment – have an honest conversation with them around compensation, gauging whether they have the character required to play the longer game. You could borrow some words from Brad Pitt:
I'm not paying you for the player you used to be. I'm paying you for the player you are right now. You're smart, you get what we're trying to do here. Make an example for the younger guys. Be a leader. You can do that?”
The Moneyball MarathonThe approach to hiring that I’m advocating above unquestionably takes more commitment from you, the employer: more time, more raised eyebrows and the possibility that some unconventional candidates will not work out.
It may also take you longer to build your true dream team, you might grow it more slowly, and you may come to the realization that actually you prefer a smaller but tight-knit “Moneyball fellowship”.
Am I saying that you should pass up all A+, perfectly qualified Ivy League candidates, through some kind of distorted reverse elitism? Am I saying that you should hire completely incompetent people? No, of course not, but I am saying that you should look beyond academics and the obvious competencies to seek out that added grit, life experience and unique magic. Because that’s when you’ll hire truly exceptional people who will grow with you and join the adventure of your company.
In the modern war for talent, I really do believe that it’s a Moneyball marathon and not a sprint. So make a long-term commitment to hiring the best people and the real characters, then take a deep breath and be patient as you naturally evolve into a talent magnet.
In Moneyball, it took a while for Brad Pitt to get the new team to gel together, people said he was crazy, and he nearly got fired before he went on to his triumphant 20-match homerun. So to leave you with a final piece of his wisdom:
Everyone wants to attack. Quit trying to attack. Let the game come to you man. There's no clock on this thing. This is a war of attrition.”
Photos: Getty Images (top); 'The Turbans' by Suchi Kedia, Emaho Magazine (middle)
Originally Posted On: Linked In By: Steve Tappin
There is nothing more important for a business than hiring the right team. If you get the perfect mix of people working for your company, you have a far greater chance of success. However, the best person for the job doesn’t always walk right through your door.The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring and love helping others, you are on to a winner.
Personality is the key. It is not something that always comes out in interview – people can be shy. But you have to trust your judgement. If you have got a slightly introverted person with a great personality, use your experience to pull it out of them. It is easier with an extrovert, but be wary of people becoming overexcited in the pressure of interviews.
You can learn most jobs extremely quickly once you are thrown in the deep end. Within three months you can usually know the ins and outs of a role. If you are satisfied with the personality, then look at experience and expertise. Find people with transferable skills – you need team players who can pitch in and try their hand at all sorts of different jobs. While specialists are sometimes necessary, versatility should not be underestimated.
Some managers get hung up on qualifications. I only look at them after everything else. If somebody has five degrees and more A grades than you can fit on one side of paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right person for the job. Great grades count for nothing if they aren’t partnered with broad-ranging experience and a winning personality.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take risks when building your team. Don’t be afraid of hiring mavericks. Somebody who thinks a little differently can help to see problems as opportunities and inspire creative energy within a group. Some of the best people we’ve ever hired didn’t seem to fit in at first, but proved to be indispensable over time.
If you hire the wrong person at the top of a company, they can destroy it in no time at all. Promoting from within is generally a good idea as the employee who is promoted will be inspired by the new role, already know the business inside out, and have the trust and respect of their team.
Equally, bringing in fresh blood can reinvigorate a company. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia recently brought in CEOs from outside - John Borghetti at Virgin Australia and Craig Kreeger at Virgin Atlantic. They have brought a lot of fresh ideas into the company, as well as experience of what the competition is doing well and what they are doing badly.
When companies go through growth spurts, they often hire in bulk and company culture can suffer. While it may seem a desperate rush to get somebody through the door to help carry the load, it is worth being patient to find the right person, rather than hurrying and unbalancing your team. I heard a great line by Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai at the IoD Conference in London (quoting Apple's Dan Jacobs) about making sure you hire (and fire) the right people: “It’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team!”
Photo Courtesy virgin.com
Originally Posted On Linked In By: Richard Branson
No bullets, no Black Hole and no officious BS, if we care about snagging talent If I hire someone to work for me, it's because I have a problem. If we were more honest than we are in corporate, institutional and start-up America, we'd tell the truth about that.
The only rational reason to hire a new person is that we have an expensive problem only a human being can solve.
If we fill a job opening merely because the budget allows it, because the latest organizational shift gives us a project that has headcount attached to it or because one of our employees retired, we are doing our customers and our shareholders a disservice.
A business like any system is constantly evolving. Needs ebb and flow, but we've trained managers to crave bigger teams to supervise, so who could say how much of our work is critical and how much is made-up fluff? Who knows how much bureaucratic waste burdens investors, taxpayers and customers with unnecessary cost just because hiring managers view more headcount as the surest path to more personal and pay-grade-lifting power?
Anyway, let's assume that I'm ready to hire hire someone and that I have a real problem. Not only do I have the problem, but I know what it's costing me, too. If I didn't, how could I size the project to determine how much I can pay the new arrival? We should do these calculations every time we add a person to our teams, but we don't, because pea-brained Godzilla runs the show and tells us that when we hire someone, there's a chart in HR that'll tell us how much to pay.
If I have a business problem and I know what it's costing me, then I'm well acquainted with the obstacle in my way. That's good, because when I write a job ad I'm going to focus on describing that problem. Smart people get excited about solving thorny issues. They want to know what they're going to be hired to do -- no different than the guys in "Mission Impossible" or "Ocean's Eleven." Who gets excited about sitting at a desk and filling out forms? People get excited about exciting missions, so my job ad is going to lay the situation out.
When we write jobs full of requirements and Essential Qualifications, we're announcing to the talent community "I, hiring manager Liz, don't have the guts to tell you what's really going on in my company." That's beneath you. Only fearful weenies write job ads that try to make it seem as though a company is perfect and has no problems. Any ten-year-old could see through that ruse. Given that CFOs these days are throwing around salary nickels like manhole covers, it doesn't take a genius to see that the issue for employers is not "How can we possibly choose between all these perfectly-suited, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed candidates?" but rather "When will heaven take pity on me and deliver to me someone who can ease my pain?"
The typical job ad is a keyword-encrusted spit in the wind. When I was an HR person, I'd say to managers "We're losing at least half of these bullets, so you can choose which ones to nuke or I can." I told them "We have to get rid of half these bullets, or be without this person for an extra three months." If time really is money, that's too expensive a proposition.
Join Human Workplace CEO Liz Ryan on a webinar Thursday, September 26: Put a Human Voice in Your Job Search, Career and BusinessA Human Workplace job ad doesn't include any qualifications or requirements. How the heck could we ever know what sort of background the perfect candidate would bring? That's impossible to know in advance.
Why would I care if a brilliant engineer has an electrical engineering degree or a degree in physics or phys ed for that matter - or no degree at all? If we could find the courage to admit it, virtually none of the jobs that we associate with particular degrees actually require that specialized educational background. I could teach a bright Rhesus monkey to perform any entry-level corporate job I've ever seen, so imagine what a capable human recruit could pick up right on the job.
When I hire someone, there are no formal requirements, but rather a synopsis of my movie:
I'm Chuck Jones, CEO of Acme Dynamite. Our company makes stick dynamite for coyotes - you may have seen our product placement in Roadrunner cartoons. We've just gotten approval to ship unassembled stick dynamite through the mail and UPS and that shift has galvanized our ecommerce business, which has made up about ten percent of our $15M annual sales and should grow dramatically. We need someone to work with our site developers and marketing team on the logistical side of our growing online store, from coordinating new product launches in the store to negotiating shipping deals and helping our tech support reps handle online issues. The new position will be called Manager of Ecommerce Operations and will report to me.
This is a job for someone who likes juggling six or eight major priorities at once, and someone who can create reports in the morning and lead a customer-support training session in the afternoon. The job is located in downtown Phoenix with about ten percent travel and pays in the mid-seventies. If it sounds like a fit, send me a 350-word paragraph that tells me why.
Chuck's message is simple and human. He doesn't list arbitrary job requirements (why limit his degrees of freedom, or shove his brilliant next hire away)? At the same time, Chuck's job ad has a better screening gate built into it than any typical "please send a resume" Black Hole ad. Chuck's admin working with Chuck and his managers will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in those 350-word paragraphs in about three seconds per reply. Fewer than ten percent of the responses will warrant a second look, and the most thoughtful and eyes-open respondents will rise to the top of the list nearly instantly.
Keywords have zip-all to do with hiring in the Human Workplace.
When Chuck is ready to conduct interviews, he'll write to each candidate and say "Let's talk next week. Is Thursday at 4:00 p.m. good for you? Please come to our office and chat with me first and then our Director of Recruiting, Declan McManus. Please come equipped with questions for us. Your questions are more important to us than your answers!"
When each candidate arrives, Chuck will make a few moments of small talk with them and then say "I'm dying to hear your questions!" We are much smarter to ask job candidates to ask us questions than to launch into a traditional interview script, because the questions that candidates compose on their own tells us a tremendous amount about their altitude on the job, their thought process and their priorities -- much more than their manicured answers convey.
We interviewed a group HR VP candidates a few weeks ago for one of our strategy clients who wanted our help with his hiring process. We began each interview in the usual way, having alerted the candidates of our process in advance: "Bring us questions to answer for you!" The first candidate asked "Can you please run down the software systems this organization uses for HR management and payroll?" We could, and we did, and we knew in a flash that the person sitting in front of us was not the person we were looking for.
Leaders operate from the hilltop if not from the clouds. No Human Resources VP whose first question is "Which software systems do you use?" has the strategic or cultural awareness our client was after.
The second candidate's first question for us was "Once this new VP arrives, what needs to happen next? What got the CEO to make this hire?" The second candidate could see that no CEO ever went in search of an HR chief just to move HR paperwork around or keep the company out of court.
There had to be a bigger fish to fry on the competitive landscape, and of course there was. The CEO had seen that his vision wasn't going to be realized without thoughtful interventions in his hiring, leadership, pay and training processes and above all in the mojo level on his team. That's what the new HR VP was being hired to install -- people-focused and nimble HR processes infused with mojo.
We told our second candidate about the movie. What else would we do - lie and say No no no, there;'s no elephant on the table -- this CEO just hires new VPs because he's a nice guy?
Recruiting with a Human Voice means no bulleted requirements in a job ad. It means describing a movie and using a logical gate like our 350-word paragraph to keep the Black Hole recruiting engine out of the talent picture.
It means no questions on the job interview, just a willingness to answer (and, let us not forget, to evaluate) a candidate's questions and then spill into the normal sort of human conversation we have all the time over coffee with friends.
It means respecting every candidate and communicating with every person in the mix regardless of whom we eventually decide to hire. It means staying human and keeping red-tape bureaucracy out of what's actually a very soft and sticky human issue: the process of matching individuals and teams so that everyone's flame and mojo grows.
That's how I hire and how Human Workplace employers do, too. It is easy to do, cheaper and faster than Black Hole recruiting and of course much more appealing to the very switched-on, mojofied people who can delight your customers and frustrate your competitors.
If you want to learn the Recruiting with a Human Voice approach, you can get the step-by-step instructions in our HR with a Human Voice coaching group launching this weekend. If you want to take a pulse on your current recruiting system, my suggestion is to talk to the ten people who most recently received "No Thanks" letters from your company.
(Don't talk to your ten most recent hires - God bless them, they'll lie and tell you the recruiting system was flawless. Now you see how fear lubricates Godzilla's gears. Scary for a CEO to see that mechanism up close, isn't it?)
We can recruit human beings without talent-repelling job ads, keyword-searching algorithms, officious auto-responders and weeks of radio silence. Those things are a pox on creativity and teamwork, and they drive your best new hires away.
If you don't believe me, ask your recruiting team what percentage of applicants abandon their online applications before they're completed.
If they don't know, ask your applicant-tracking-system vendor to cough up that info. It's essential, because those runaway brainiacs represent talent you could have had in your shop had your homegrown Godzilla not scared it away.
Originally Posted On: Linked IN By: Liz Ryan
Over years of iteration and sink-or-swim learning, we’ve developed four principles for assembling a world-class team. We have an unconventional approach to growing Asana: instead of hiring quickly, we carefully woo those rare people who are among the best in the world at what they do, or who we believe have the potential to grow into the best. Of course, these people are in extremely high demand. This is how we’ve helped them get excited to join Asana over all their other exciting opportunities -- and built a kind of “supergroup.”
1. Get to know the whole person
Any new hire will impact our organization far beyond the specialized skills they contribute. Because our culture is so dear to us, we use a combination of creative and traditional approaches to get to know people. We invite them to off-site dinners, happy hours, and company events. Incorporating “experiences” into our approach helps us connect with candidates on a deeper level. We get to see how they fit, in terms of values, temperament, and reactions to diverse situations. And they get to see the real Asana, from our silliness to our earnestness, from our irreverence to our vulnerability.
Even in formal interviews, the first questions I ask every candidate are: “What are you most passionate about? What gets you up in the morning? Of all the things you could do with this precious finite life, why [design/programming/etc.]?”
2. Communicate your company’s values
Leading big visions requires building a team that collectively understands and embodies your values. Values aren’t just pretty words. They’re the actual guideposts that your team uses day in and day out to make decisions, build your product, and create your brand.
We publicize our values aggressively. They’re listed right on our company page. We publish articles and give talks on, for example, how we apply our value of Pragmatic Craftsmanship to product development, our value of Balance to management, and Mindfulness to growing a startup. The upshot is that people who resonate with our values are naturally drawn toward the company. And it filters out people who wouldn’t ultimately manifest them in their work.
3. Meet people now who you might want to hire later
Building a great team is both a marathon and a sprint. The most successful companies don’t just “sprint” to fill their open positions. They also build relationships with people who might be a great fit down the road. Long-term thinking and patience are especially important if your team is dedicated to a big long-term vision.
At Asana, we want to meet and get to know great people, period, and everyone at the company is part of that. For example, asanas invite their friends to meals and company events, even if those friends won’t be able to join for years, or ever. We dedicate 10% of our working hours across the board toward recruiting-related efforts, and much of it is relationship building. Of course, this is motivated by more than just recruiting: sharing ideas helps us be better creators and people.
4. The best people want to work with the best people
It requires a lot of discipline to keep the bar high. For every open position, we meet a ton of great people before we find the one who has that special combination of intellectual curiosity, technical depth, integrity, cultural/personality fit, passion for the work at hand, and raw IQ. And we have to create an environment that those people -- many of whom could be starting their own companies, or getting paid extremely handsomely at established companies -- feel will fully leverage their skill sets, regardless of whether they're in a management role. But the result is a positive feedback loop, because great people want to be challenged and supported by great peers.
Build great teams Having the right team is critical to achieving your vision. These principles have helped us find the best people to join our company. How did your company succeed in recruiting its most talented employees?
Originally Posted On: Linked In By: Justin Rosenstein
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WorldBridge Partners earned the Best of Staffing®Award for providing remarkable service quality. Fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada earned the 2015 Best of Staffing Award for service excellence. With satisfaction ratings more than three times higher than the industry average, the Best of Staffing winners truly stand out for exceeding expectations. This award identifies the staffing industry's elite leaders in service quality.