Create SMARTe jobs by asking “What does success look like?”(Note: job-seekers are cautioned to not read this post. It will give them an unfair advantage by learning how to answer tough interview questions. Here's the full countermeasure program for situations when interviewers aren’t asking SMARTe questions.)
Rather than list skills and experiences to define job requirements, it’s better to describe the job as a series of four to five SMARTe (or semi-SMARTe) performance objectives. For this purpose SMARTe means: Specific task, Measurable outcome, Action required, Result or deliverable defined, Time frame and Team described, and the environment or underlying situation clarified. Not only can these performance-based job descriptions help attract stronger people and increase assessment accuracy, they’re also more compliant with U.S. labor law than skills-based job descriptions. (Note: I'm hosting a short webcast on January 22 on how to test this approach.)
Following is an example comparing the traditional and SMARTe approach for preparing job descriptions.
Position: Product Marketing, high pressure valves for oil drilling
Traditional: must have 4-5 years in B2B product marketing in the oil tools industry, an MBA from a top-rated business school, exceptional team skills, strong project planning and communication skills, a “can do” attitude, and a BS in hydraulics or mechanical engineering preferred.
Major SMARTe Performance Objective: Collaborating with engineering and operations, lead the launch and introduction of the new high-pressure fracking control valve system by Q4, under very tight budget and delivery schedules.
I refer to the full list of 4-5 SMARTe objectives as a performance-based job description or performance profile. Clarifying job expectations up-front this way not only attracts more talented people who want to do the work described, but also broadens the pool to include those who have achieved comparable results, but have a different mix of skills and experiences. With this type of job description it’s also easier to determine if the candidate is both competent and motivated to do this work by asking SMARTe questions.
Ask a SMARTe question like, “What have you accomplished that’s most comparable?”
Early in the interview describe the performance objective and ask the candidate to describe his or her most comparable accomplishment. Follow this up using SMARTe as a framework for better understanding the accomplishment.
Specific task or Situation: please describe the actual task including specific details. Get the candidate to create a “word picture” of the accomplishment.
Measurable details and Metrics: quantify the accomplishment to find out what actually changed and by how much, getting facts, figures, dates, and percentages.
Actions taken and person’s Actual role: ask about the person’s specific role and the decisions made, where the person took the initiative, overcame challenges, organized activities, and how the work was planned, tracked and executed.
Results achieved and deliverables defined: have the person describe the overall outcome, or final product, it’s overall quality compared to some important benchmark, if the person received any positive recognition for the work, and what the person could have done better.
Timeframe to accomplish the task and the Team involved: find out when the project took place and how long it took to complete. Compare this to the plan and how the person ensured the plan was achieved. Ask the person to describe who was on the team, how the person built and managed the team, and how the person influenced the most dominant people on the team.
Environment, culture and underlying circumstances: ask about the pace, resource restraints and support; the quality of the working relationships with others on the team, especially with the person’s immediate superior; and how the person dealt with changing circumstances.
It should take about 15 minutes to completely understand the person’s accomplishment and make the comparative assessment. The same SMARTe questioning process should be done for all of the other performance objectives. (The full performance-based interview and assessment process is described here including a talent scorecard covering all dimensions of fit.)
(Private note to job-seekers who’ve disregarded the cautionary note above: if interviewers start box-checking skills, quickly ask them to describe the primary objectives of the job. Then clarify them using the SMARTe model. Then give a SMARTe answer describing your most significant comparable accomplishment.)
The problem with most interviewers is lack of understanding of real job needs. Once these have been clarified, it’s pretty easy to figure out if a person is competent and motivated to do the work. It just takes some SMARTe discipline and SMARTe questions, which is a whole lot better than guessing or hoping.
Originally Posted On LinkedIn By: Lou Adler
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