The Greener Grass

By Lori Reed For nearly half of my life, I have worked in recruiting and shown candidates the way to greener grass. Having just returned from the proverbial “other side of the fence”, I cannot resist the temptation to find the teaching moments for myself and my community of Recruiters.

Job searching and recruiting, two pillars of the hiring process, generally start with a practical approach. Candidates and companies alike begin the process by listing facts and figures. Recruiters often make use of Boolean logic and applicant tracking systems as a first run at matching the two. At a certain point, however, the emotional component of interviewing that too many of us rely on in the form of a “gut” feeling can taint the recruiting process.

I have read several articles debating whether recruiting is an art or a science. As Jim Camp points out in his article’s title on BIGTHINK.COM, “Decisions are Emotional, not Logical: The Neuroscience behind Decision Making”, the answer may lie somewhere in between. Perhaps we should consider ourselves Artisans and, as such, constantly improving our craft. I have no regrets about my recent attempt at a career change, even though the role was not a fit for me. The lessons learned were valuable and cathartic to share.

Lesson #1. Reserve Judgment

Both the candidate and the hiring company are at risk of falling prey to this pitfall. Candidates can get swept in by a company’s prestige, swanky office space and interview chemistry. They see themselves in the role and want it to be a good fit so they often forget to ask critical questions. Had I asked to sit in on a team meeting or spend an hour with a team member to see the job in action, I may have been alerted to the mismatch. Similarly, Recruiters and Hiring Managers can fall in love with Ivy League degrees, smooth interviewing skills and compatible work experience and lose sight of their obligation to delve further. If we keep our initial affection for a candidate at bay and plow through questions that expose competency, work style and grit, might we prevent a bad hire?

Even in some of the world’s largest companies, hiring managers are not trained on interviewing. That explains why the best candidate often does not get the job; it is the best interviewee. Candidates are also not trained on interviewing and therefore often fail to ask the right questions to assure the right fit for them. The onus is on the Recruiter (presumably the one with the most training in vetting out candidates) to maintain neutrality for as long as possible. First impressions are powerful but we need to challenge that opinion long enough to make an unbiased assessment.

 

Lesson #2: Understand How You Make Decisions

To make use of my Myers-Briggs (MBTI) certification, I often look at personality type to glean insight. In this case, the issue of the Thinking/Feeling dichotomy cuts to the heart of the matter because it addresses our natural process for making decisions.

Recruiters and Hiring Managers who are hard-wired as “Feelers” or “F’s” will have a harder time maintaining objectivity because relationships and person-centered values dominate their decision process. However, with self-awareness comes self-improvement so challenge yourself to figuratively step back from the candidate and assess as logically and objectively as possible.

On the other hand, Recruiters and Hiring Managers who are oriented as “Thinkers” or “T’s” may be adept at using cause-effect logic to identify candidates who have the skills and acumen for the job. However, it may be valuable to run that decision-making process through your non-preferred “Feeling” function and examine the potential for harmony and positive interactions in the role.

Lesson #3: Prepare

I went to a training seminar last year and took away the valuable perspective that too many of us are “winging” it. We expect candidates to be prepared for interviews but imagine how much more productive interviews would be if both sides did their research. Have you considered interviewing the successful hires in similar positions within your company to get a sense for the profile? Do you solicit interview questions from those employees who know the job intimately even if they are not included in the interview process? Have you learned from past hiring mistakes and considered what questions or exercises may have weeded them out? Hiring Managers may appreciate a list of mindful questions cultivated by their Recruiter. Tailored questions that are asked of all candidates will provide an apples-to-apples comparison that can provide valuable insight when Recruiters and Hiring Managers are debriefing. Not to mention, the candidate experience will be far more favorable when the interviewers are prepared.

My year-long hiatus from recruiting allowed me to examine the hiring process from the candidate’s perspective for the first time in a decade. As the grass was certainly not greener for me, I have returned to recruiting with great enthusiasm, where I will never again take for granted the fulfillment I feel when one of my candidates proves to be a successful hire.

Lori Reed is Founder and President of Schechter Reed, LLC (www.schechterreed.com), a boutique search firm that specializes in HR and Administrative professionals, and an HR Consultant with HR Advisors Group, LLC. (www.hradvisorsgroup.com). Connect with her on Twitter