Behavior over skill.
Identifying and assessing top talent is one of the greatest opportunities for managers. After all, people, and their behaviors, are your primary competitive advantage. We’re not talking about a Linked In search for the right key words or competitor resume, but rather in sourcing the right balance of critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability, initiative, innovation, passion, and commitment.
The process of talent identification and selection for most small and middle companies is reactionary at best, with managers scurrying to fill a hole with the best key word laden resume the internet can deliver. After the candidate is enticed in for an interview, we proceed to tell them why you’ve got a great organization, offer amazing opportunities, and lead the conversation 75% of the time, tooting your own horn, asking the occasional closed ended question. Are you familiar with X? Have you had exposure to Y? And the affirmations poor in…, “Yes, I think your company is great!” “Yes, I have experience in solutions selling!” “Yes, I’m a hard worker!”
There are some common rating errors and interviewer biases which may influence our judgment process. Some of the most common are:
1. Halo effect – where you judge a candidate as proficient in many areas due to their strength in one area. The lead sales producer doesn’t always make the best manager.
2. Stereotyping – where we judge a candidate because of the people, group, or company with whom he or she is associated. She is from Disney so must be creative.
3. Similar-to-me – where we judge a candidate because he or she exhibits a similar style, interest, or personality to the interviewer.
4. Central tendency – where we view all candidates as "middle of the road" and fail to identify the high potential and below average candidates.
So how do we lessen the reliance on interview “luck” and break the cycle of subjective criteria, human bias, and identify the important behaviors necessary for success? Implementing a structured behavioral based interview can minimize false positives and create an objective process to ensure the best fit for both parties. For simplicity, we’ve reduced the process to a simple chronological outline:
• Welcome candidate, establish rapport, and establish the interview rhythm, timeframe, and your objective in learning more about specific behaviors, experiences, etc. Openly express your commitment in assessing behavioral, culture, and skill fit for both parties to ensure a successful relationship.
• We would like to get to know you a little better… please tell us a little more about yourself…
• What are your top three drivers in selecting your next opportunity?
• How would you value the fair market value for your services in the local market today? How did you arrive at that?
• If we assembled the team of people that most closely worked with you from each of your last employers, what would THEY say are your top 3 areas of brilliance? Asking the same people, what would they say are the top two things YOU own that limit you in reaching your full potential?
2. Knowledge of the Company, Industry, or Market Segment
• What was most impressive to you about our organization? What was the largest concern in evaluating the potential to work for our organization?
• What do you think are the underlying opportunities in the _________ industry or in evolving the specific function/role you are considering?
• Chronological Review of Employment history
• Let’s go over your employment history…when you do, please help me understand the size, scope, and role of companies you worked for. Industry, annual revenues, total employees, product or services, size, products, challenges, etc. Also, tell me your exact title and who you reported to directly. These data points will help me assess the scale, volume, and environments in which you worked.
• If you only had three objective metrics to objectively judge your success in your previous role, what were they? How did you improve these metrics during your tenure?
• Give me at least three accomplishments that you felt substantially evolved the function, role, or organizational performance.
• Why and how did you leave your role?
3. Behavioral and critical thinking
• Picture this scenario; the stakeholders of the business come to you (describe the specific scenario). What do you do? Describe your approach to this challenge?
• Role-play scenarios (sales, customer, problem resolution, integrity testing, etc.)…
• Provide examples of data, a report, design, process, etc. and ask for a critique or evaluation.
4. Skill Set
• You have a very impressive _________ background…what do you think are your core strengths in ___________?
• What is your approach and what tools do you use in doing x?
• How would you rank your x skills? How did you arrive at your ranking?
5. Candidate Questions
• What questions do you have regarding the role, company, or expectations?
• On a scale of 1-10 (10 excellent), how would you gauge how well you did in the interview?
6. Closing and Set Next Steps
• Express appreciation for their transparency and time investment. Close to specific next steps.
Be cautious about making inferences and conclusions about a candidate. If you do write down an inference or a conclusion (e.g., unorganized, not assertive, low emotional intelligence), you should always support that inference or conclusion with a relevant descriptive behavior (e.g., ignored critical deadlines and did not communicate upcoming dates with her team, did not ask customers probing questions to get the whole picture, failed to recognize my body language and tone). Relevant behaviors should be used as the basis for evaluations, not conclusions about vague traits or characteristics unrelated to the job.
For each skill or competency, use performance standards and success criteria developed with the aid of subject matter experts, testing, and scenarios to help you make accurate evaluations. This way, candidates will be evaluated by comparing their behavior against evaluation criteria, not against each other!
Following this structured behavioral based interview process will help ensure you are creating an environment where people do what they do best while enhancing a mutually accountable and collaborative organizational culture. Screen for behaviors, as they are typically 85% of the reason you’ve terminated the person your trying to replace!
To learn more about enhancing the value of your organization contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. FL Venture Catalysts.