Talent Assessment Considerations
When sifting through a candidate pool to find the best talent for your current job opening, there are many things to consider.
As you prepare to interview someone, you plan the questions you will ask. You also plan what some potentially good responses might be. Somethings that go through your mind are:
- Is the candidate geographically ideal for the position? Does the position require dedicated office time or travel?
- Is the person seeking a salary that fits with what is being offered?
- Does the person have the right technical skills?
- Does the person have sufficient experience implementing those skills in real world situations?
- Is the person receptive to feedback?
- Do the person’s values match well with those of the organization?
Filling in the Gaps
The least considered but potentially most important thing is filling in any talent gaps. Some skills are simply harder to teach than others. We should have a plan to identify those skills and be quicker to bring people into the organization who exhibit them.
For example, someone with technical aptitude can learn most technical skills given enough time and support. It is much tougher to teach client facing skills. These include the ability to make oneself trustworthy to others. Regardless of the technical solution being offered, a fruitful professional relationship begins with gaining the client’s trust. We must prove that we have their best interests in mind. Finally, we must tactfully manage contentious situations professionally, and without excess emotion.
An Innovative Approach to Talent Assessment
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing many candidates for openings at various companies. They ranged from business analyst roles to project and account management roles. I take a substantially different position than many of my peers during my interview process. Rather than looking at all the technical things required of the position and checking off the check box next to each successful qualification, I look for unique skills and gifts that the candidate has to offer. I look for abilities to humanly connect that I haven’t seen before.
The Things that Interest me
Call me crazy, but I prefer to see people as humans full of unique talent and innovation rather than as the sum of their check boxes. Experience in a new and exciting area could make up for the fact that skills are less than expected in another area. Conversely, if someone has a proven technical track record, it doesn’t matter as much to me that they don’t remember when to use a “left outer join” right now. It’s something that someone with the right experience will know when to lookup on Google anyway.
I am more interested in seeing that a candidate has an interesting way of thinking and problem solving than I am in proving that they get the right answer every time. If an answer isn’t “right” but is informed through a thoughtful process, it might uncover other insights that everyone missed. I am more interested in structuring my interviews like a conversation where I learn about the candidate and they learn equally as much about the position and about me. I don’t like following the traditional dictation method because it makes both me and the candidate anxious, and what does that accomplish?
Taking Criticism as a Compliment
These “radical” ideas and the interview feedback I provide often get me labeled as “more easy on candidates than anyone else”. I think the people that say this mean it as criticism. I find this humorous because I take it as a compliment. Setting people at ease so they can present the best version of themselves during an interview is the best gift I can give someone. I want to know how they perform at their best, not how they perform under a situation of extreme duress. Why? Because if they make it onto my team, I’ll do my best as their manager to make sure those situations of duress don’t ever happen.
The ideas I preach on this blog are the same ones I share daily on my projects. If you don’t believe in something, that belief doesn’t suddenly go away because you are at work. You do everything you can to live your life according to those beliefs. I happen to believe that human beings should be setup to succeed, not fail.
The Call to Action
Next time you are interviewing someone, I ask you to look at the human side of things. Of course you should do your due diligence to ensure the candidate meets the minimum requirements. Beyond that, focus on their unique value more than on doing all you can to uncheck a check box. You will feel better for it, and you will get a more motivated and capable employee.
I wish you all happy holidays.