Remember that candidate whom you had hired and who had seemed to be a potential star during the hiring process, but had left you disappointed?
How does one reduce such occurrences?
Here is one idea to help you do just that.
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How Contrary Evidence helps with better hiring decisions
“Another one bites the dust!” Only this time, it’s not that classic Queen number on your mind. Neither is singing, for that matter.
Unbelievably, yet another ‘star’ hire has exited the organisation, leaving you as quickly as they left their former companies. It’s either this, or these ‘star’ hires don’t shine once on-boarded. Or, heaven forbid, they develop into prima donnas.
But for the life of you, you can’t seem to figure out why this happens. And it matters because you’re the one who recruited these ‘stars’. You were so sure that you found ‘the ones’ at those interviews, among the dismal multitude that you rejected as unfit. And it certainly doesn’t help when everyone looks askance at you when the ‘stars’ fall.
It can’t be your fault. This could happen to anyone, right?
Right and wrong!
Right because it does happen a lot. Recruiters the world over stare this riddle in the face every day. And it’s not exclusively an HR issue anymore. With departments insisting on having a say on who enters their teams, companies are increasingly opting to have operations personnel as part of the recruitment panel. Because recruitment is an expensive affair after all.
Wrong because, and this may not be easy on the ears, it could be your fault (unwittingly, of course). Your interviewing skills need to be looked at long and hard. That, and chances are, your greatest strength when it comes to interviewing people – your gut feeling – is simultaneously your greatest weakness.
We have an entire intervention that focusses on interviewing skills – four step structure and all – in order to help the good souls in recruitment panels get it right for CEO and for company.
However, here we’ll talk about just one element in that four-step structure that might help you right away.
First things first. Too many recruiters see the interview itself as the decision point. It’s not! Remember that your role as an interviewer is NOT to make judgements or selection decisions. Your role is to acquire as much data as possible to compare candidates objectively and make a sound recruitment decision later.
With that out of the way, try seeking Contrary Evidence. And that requires intelligent use of your gut feelings.
Think back to an interview where you mentally dismissed a candidate in the first five minutes. Their responses to your questions probably gave you a really bad impression of their capabilities. On the flip side, you probably recall the interview where you mentally selected the candidate in the first five minutes. Their responses hit all the right notes, and you thought you were witnessing the birth of a ‘star’ right there. While we won’t delve into the dos and don’ts of interview questioning here, we certainly want to draw your attention to your line of interview questioning.
It is completely natural for interviewers to unwittingly ask questions that elicit good responses from ‘star’ candidates, and ask questions that help poor candidates seal their own fates. It must be remembered though that nobody is completely good or bad. And your job as an interviewer is to uncover as much as possible of both sides of the candidate. So if you’re getting a consistently stellar impression of the candidate, you might want to consider asking a question like ‘Tell me about a time you busted a deadline’ instead of ‘Talk to me about a time when you were faced with an impossible deadline’ (which they’re sure to knock out of the park).
And if you’re getting a consistently poor picture of a candidate, you might consider asking a question like ‘Tell me about a time when you were delivered a project on time, when it might have been perfectly understandable to bust deadlines’ instead of ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how good are you with meeting deadlines?’ (See how that question will get a struggling candidate to eliminate themselves?)
The trick is to be able to seek contrary evidence as a conscious choice. You still need those gut feelings to guide you on whether what you’re hearing is too good to be true or too bad to be plausible, and when to ask questions for a balanced perspective. That’s where it works best. And while there always the occasional fluke, using gut feelings to select candidates at the interviewing stage is eventually a sure-fire recipe for failure.
After all, who wants to hire ‘shooting stars’ and ‘supernovas’ that implode into ‘black holes’? And who wouldn’t want to find a ‘diamond in the rough’?