It seems as though every month there’s a new approach to recruiting. The beer test, video interviews, assignments… candidates never know what to expect.

These various approaches are often driven by recruiting managers to find the people they need – but leave everyone else in the process confused and unsure in which direction to go…

When candidates get rejected (or often just left out in the cold and never responded to) their job search takes a step back. Without feedback on how they performed, why they weren’t a good fit for the role, or what the recruiting manager was really looking for – how can they go away and learn, in order to succeed in their next job application? Understandably they take a dim view of the company which affects their employer brand. All because the recruiting manager doesn’t know what they are looking for or how to identify it when they see it.

IT Systems Infrastructure Analyst Neil Champion-Wells found the recruitment process frustrating:
“It used to really wind me up when I was applying for jobs to be told that I didn’t get a job or even an interview because other candidates had skills and experience more closely matched to the role. I was applying for jobs where I matched most if not all of the required skill set so I decided that the recruitment process in these companies was broken. Thankfully I found a company that saw value in what I could bring to the table which I’m sure covered skills, experience and attitude. They’re now reaping the benefits while the others lost out!”

What this highlights is that skills and experience are vastly over rated.

Recruiting managers start with the most obvious hiring task – coming up with a list of skills and experience they want a candidate to have. But while this may attract candidates with the skills required to fulfil the role’s demands, will it attract candidates with the drive and motivation to succeed in the role and within the company?

In recent research we did of recruiting managers hiring in specialist skills, we are seeing a few pioneers recognising that potential and specific motivational traits are much more important than long list of skills and experience.

“Building up skills a candidate lacks is generally quite quick, and with a good candidate, they’ll be working with you the whole way. Whereas if the attitude or potential isn’t there, that’s much harder to change: and you’re much less likely to have the candidate on your side in the process.” Alden Spiess, Product Owner at Equivital.

When Mark Wilson, CEO of Aviva, agrees with this potential-based approach. When he recruits new senior members of the team, Mark looks for three things:

  • The intellect to process data and deal “in the grey”
  • Drive
  • A value set that is consistent and fits with the company culture.

In fact, in a recent ChangeBoard podcast, Mark Wilson says he would take these three things over experience every day of the week.

Another pioneer going against the skills and experience hiring trends, is Caleb Marchant. When hiring software developers, Caleb focuses on hiring candidates who he can develop into the perfect candidate, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and ultimately building a team who are motivated, dedicated and excited by their jobs. Caleb’s low turnover rates demonstrate the value in hiring for potential, not skills!

Helping you to assess a candidate’s motivation and potential.

Whilst there are lots of recruitment tools and approaches to help determine whether a candidate will actually be able to do the job, there are not many tools that can pinpoint if the candidate is motivated and has the potential to do the job that needs doing.

  • Write a job description that accurately reflects the role you’re hiring for.
    Before starting any interactions with candidates, make sure you know what you are looking for and why. And no, I’m not talking about a tick box list of skills and experience! Think about your company culture, and what it would take for a candidate to fit in. The motivations, interests, passions… crafting a job description that reflects what it really takes to succeed within your company will refine your recruitment process and deliver successful candidates. As well as managing candidate expectations right from day one, and minimising the chances of disinterested or disappointed candidates bad mouthing your company.
  • Don’t rush into interviews, introduce a screening process.
    Before you start interviewing candidates, consider introducing a screening process. Interviews are time consuming and use up resources. Instead, use the LAB Profile (or get an expert to) during a pre-interview telephone or Skype call in order to analyse a candidate’s language patterns and discover their real motivations. Will they really fit in and excel in the role, or will they be walking out of the door in a few months time?
  • At interview, listen to what your candidates are really saying.
    When it comes to interviews, preparation is key. Don’t go in blind – prepare open questions that will give you the evidence you need that the candidate is equipped to do the job in your company. Use a scoring methodology in order to be able to accurately compare candidates and their strengths and weaknesses. This is where a LAB Profile expert, or an understanding of this psycho-linguistic tool, is extremely helpful. Instead of listening to a candidate’s rehearsed answer, use open questions to provoke real answers and give an insight into a candidate’s motivations, conscious and subconscious. What really makes them tick, and will they fit in with your existing team? The LAB Profile is invaluable in increasing the success rates of recruiting, as well as increasing long-term employee retention rates.

To avoid recruitment confusion, to avoid gaining a bad reputation amongst candidates, and to avoid hiring the wrong candidates, be clear about what you’re looking for and use robust questioning to discover if candidates have what you need. Above all communicate clearly throughout the process so the reasons for your decisions are transparent.