Any marriage counsellor will tell you: Don’t marry with the expectation you will change the other person after the wedding. The “stripes” we carry into a relationship are usually there for the long run. The same advice applies to organisations that are selecting potential candidates for key roles.
With the cost of doing business rising continuously, and the business environment continuously evolving, South African businesses are operating off much tighter budgets. The cost of hiring the wrong person for the job is not only negative for the bottom line, but for the overall productivity of the business. In today’s uncertain economic times, businesses simply cannot afford to make hiring mistakes, and need to ensure they take the necessary steps to avoiding this.
Below are some important points to consider when reviewing candidates for key organisational roles:
1. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour
Look for themes and patterns that characterise how the candidate has operated in prior roles. It is difficult to ‘turn over a new leaf’ and no organisation wants its success to depend on a candidate changing the patterns of their career.
For example, if the candidate is said to have performed poorly under pressure or to work better on their own than in a team – these factors must be considered and weighed up against the role you are looking to fill. It would be unrealistic to suddenly expect the candidate to begin to perform well under pressure, or optimally as part of a team – if these are key attributes for success in the role.
2. What you see is what you get
Do not make excuses for a candidate’s behaviour or how they come across in the selection process. First impressions are everything in the interview process. Make sure you opt for a candidate who made the best first impression in all aspects. For example, if a candidate is rude to the administrative staff and comes off as unfriendly throughout the process, this should be taken into account as part of their personality and demeanour, rather than being passed off as a bad day.
3. Cultural fit matters
Organisational cultures vary in many ways. Candidates differ in their values and preferences that relate to attitudes concerning status, social mores, financial drivers, and decision-making predispositions. Candidates that are not a good fit for the organisation’s culture are either going to be unhappy and unsatisfied, or work to change the culture to fit their values and preferences. A candidate accustomed to making decisions based largely on intuition is going to have a difficult time in your organisation if the organisation values analysis of data and a logical decision-making process, for example.
Remember to take this into account during the interview process, to ensure the candidate is a good match for the business as well as the role. This will be a win-win situation for both the candidate and the business.
4. When in doubt, there is no doubt. The answer is NO!
If the hiring leader, prospective peers, and other key stakeholders have doubts and reservations about a candidate based on capabilities revealed by past performance, personal style, and questions of culture fit, then just keep looking.
The cost of a bad selection decision is higher than some people realise, taking the extra time to find the right candidate will pay off. According to the HFM Talent Index for 2016, 55% of South African organisations indicated that finding high quality candidates in limited talent pools is a major obstacle for their business. As such talent analytics has become a key trend for 2017, as organisations are looking to pinpoint the areas where they can grow their talent acquisition strategies
It’s critical to follow a rigorous assessment process when hiring. If need be, partner with a workforce solutions provider that is able to find the right talent for your organisation.
As an example, here is the assessment framework used for senior-level positions by Right Management:
• Online self-assessments, including: Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), Hogan Development Survey (HDS), and cognitive abilities assessments that measure critical thinking ability and decision-making.
• A background survey to capture the candidate’s experiences in areas relevant to performance.
• A competency-based behavioural interview designed to identify the candidate’s accomplishments, operating style, and outcomes in specific performance examples.
• A peer simulation exercise, in which the candidate is observed leading a meeting with a peer and working to accomplish specific objectives.
• An analysis and strategy exercise in which the individual has to assimilate disparate information, respond to emails, develop a strategy for their division, and present in a compelling manner to the leadership team. This exercise is used to assess how the candidate processes and responds to information as defined by the behavioural competencies.
• A direct report simulation exercise that involves the need to inspire and motivate a direct report during times of significant change — useful in assessing the behaviours exhibited by the candidate against the behavioural competencies.
Hiring the right employees is critical for on-going organisational success. The most important asset of any organisation is its people. The key is understanding that hiring the right candidate requires patience. So, as you evaluate your ‘zebras’, assess rigorously, pay attention to past behaviours, don’t make excuses, consider the cultural fit, and if doubts creep in, trust your instincts!
Lyndy van den Barselaar is the Managing Director at Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)a.