Should I trust my gut feeling when interviewing people?

The short answer is no and never! If you want to know why, please keep reading. Using your gut is similar to scratching the surface of something; to examine and discover only the superficial aspects of something or in this case a candidate. We call it the Four A Syndrome, because when you trust your gut, you are assessing a candidate’s presentation skills over business performance and substance.

The four A’s are:

  • Articulate
  • Assertive
  • Attractive
  • Affable

For sure, we have all been there. Think back to your latest recruitment challenge, and it might have looked something like this.

You have received resume after resume from HR or your external recruiter, you have spent days and days sitting in useless interviews, and just having a conversation in English with the candidates has been an uphill struggle. You are getting more and more desperate because your head office is pushing hard to get the hiring done sooner rather than later.

Then one day, you receive this two-page resume with just the right amount of information, the font type and size are reader friendly, there’s lots of white space and a beautiful build up. It’s a model resume so you quickly arrange a meeting.

Entering the Gut Club Trap

Your interview goes well, the candidate is friendly, articulate and speaks fluently and coherently. The candidate is assertive and confident without being aggressive. The person is  attractive, well dressed and presentable, and you built rapport quickly and easily. The interview goes beyond your expectation, so you start asking the easy questions to get a home run. Your gut is screaming at you: hire, hire, hire.

Welcome to the gut club, you have just fallen into the typical trap of assessing presentation instead of performance. You are falling in love with the candidate’s personality. It would have been easier to just flip a coin, heads, you hire but tails, and you don’t.

Jack Welch, CEO and chairman of General Electric told an MBA class that while he developed a strong instinct for knowing which mergers would work, even when the data and facts said something different, when it came to hiring decisions, he never trusted his gut. He found first impressions and subjective opinions very unreliable. Instead, he looked for hard evidence that a candidate came with the right skillset and fit.

What is it about the gut feeling that makes it so ineffective? In short, it is the absence of hard data and the lack of facts and reality.

So if your gut is not reliable, and if you cannot use your finger-spitzen-gefühl, a German term translating to “finger tips feeling” and meaning intuitive flair or instinct, then how do you best assess the qualification of applicants and candidates?

Designing an effective interview process

An effective interviewing process follows these four steps:

  1. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job.
  2. Identify the knowledge, attributes, and skills the candidate needs for success.
  3. Identify the people skills a person brings to the job. This is by far the hardest trait to determine, but by understanding the applicant’s personality and motivation, you are guaranteed to improve your hiring process.
  4. Follow a structured process. This does not mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity but that each candidate is asked the same behavioural-based questions.

If you’re interviewing someone by asking them hypothetical questions, also called situational or scenario questions, you don’t get the truth, you get speculation. This means that to get a good, accurate picture of their capabilities, don’t ask interview questions along the lines of “what would you do in X situation?” or “if X happened, how would you react?”. Questions should be reality-based, something similar to “tell me about a time you had to…” or “when this happened in your previous position, what did you do?”

Try to understand what people have accomplished in their career rather than spending the whole interview just talking about yourself and how great your company is.

Hiring as a selling activity

And always remember that hiring is also a selling activity. If you are meeting so-called passive candidates, which are people typically provided by headhunters, keep in mind that these people have good jobs and are not yet necessarily convinced that they should make a move.

If you feel you have a strong candidate, you need to switch into sales mode. That means you should tell them why the grass is greener on your side of the fence compared to where they are employed now. If you manage this, the candidate leaves convinced about the great opportunity your company can offer.

Candidates should be treated with the courtesy and respect that you would offer to your best customer. Make sure that your receptionist is at her best and welcome the potential new colleague with a smile and Thai greeting. This helps ensure that the candidate’s first impression of your company is positive. Interviews should have the tone of a meeting, an exchange of ideas, rather than a cross-examination of someone’s background.

And the wake-up call to hiring managers; please remember, a candidate may have no more than honest curiosity to learn more about the position and your company. If the candidate is not convinced about the opportunity after meeting you, the candidate may decide that s/he may not want to pursue the job. Just as you may decide not to move forward with the person.

Sometimes interviews extend longer than initially planned. Be sure to allow sufficient time between interviews in the event of more lengthy discussions. It is also important to ensure that interviews are scheduled far enough apart so that candidates for the same position are unlikely to encounter each other. This avoids embarrassment on all sides, particularly in industries where many of the executives know one another.

 

Five reasons why slow hiring process kills all deals

Last week I got a message from a senior executive candidate, who is in the running of becoming the new Managing Director for a multi-national company. He said he was pulling out of the hiring process. He and other top candidates met the client five weeks ago and to date no decision or update have been forthcoming.

There is no way you will impress senior executives with a slow recruitment process. Period. Continue reading “Five reasons why slow hiring process kills all deals”

Two ways to test candidate personality and intelligence before you hire

Picture a jigsaw puzzle! Then think about the next candidate you are going to interview. This candidate is like the jigsaw puzzle you just pictured, a human being put together by many different shapes and forms of puzzle pieces.

Imagine for a second that you only have one single puzzle piece and are asked to guess what the complete picture is. Likely an impossible task, wouldn’t you say?

Assessing a candidate’s profile to determine the fit to your hiring needs is not done by just reading a resume once. It’s not done by just one telephone screening and nothing else. It’s not done by a short or one-time in-person interview. It would certainly be a risk to decide whether to hire, or not, if the only thing you did was call a previous employer for a reference check. Continue reading “Two ways to test candidate personality and intelligence before you hire”

Why headhunters don’t return your calls

If you missed the Bangkok Post article on 19 June 2017, Why Headhunters Don’t Return Your Calls, read the full article here. It’s the story why I used to hate headhunters…

Once upon a time is the phrase which begins fairy tales and fabulous stories set in some unspecified moment in the past. Except the story you are about to read. There is nothing fairy or fabulous about this real life experience of mine. I absolutely hated headhunters. My story starts like this: Once upon a time when I was a candidate myself. Continue reading “Why headhunters don’t return your calls”

Forbes ranks Boyden in Top Ten in executive search

Forbes recently launched their first ever ranking of executive recruiting firms. Boyden has ranked #8 out of the 250 firms included in the set.

To assign rankings, Forbes gathered 20,000 responses from executives and HR managers. Forbes asked them to name the top firms with which they had experience. The companies with the most recommendations are ranked highest. Continue reading “Forbes ranks Boyden in Top Ten in executive search”

Secrets of successful selection

There are now about 300 third-party recruiters in Thailand who are licenced to help recruit Thais for jobs in Thailand. Not many know this, but the recruitment industry in Thailand is extremely regulated and is governed by the Job Seekers Protection Act enacted in 1985 (31 years ago). Recruitment companies must submit a monthly report to the Ministry of Labour showing the names and details of the candidates they have helped place with their clients.

Tom Sorensen is a 14-year veteran head-hunter in Thailand, now at Boyden, one of the longest established players in the executive recruitment business. In the world and in Thailand. We asked Tom Sorensen to discuss the changing face of recruitment and the role of recruitment professionals. Continue reading “Secrets of successful selection”

Two easy ways to test candidate personality and intelligence

Picture a jigsaw puzzle! Then think about the next candidate you are going to interview. This candidate is like the jigsaw puzzle you just pictured, a human being put together by many different shapes and forms of puzzle pieces.

Imagine for a second that you only have one single puzzle piece and are asked to guess what the complete picture is. Likely an impossible task, wouldn’t you say? Continue reading “Two easy ways to test candidate personality and intelligence”

What fee do you pay recruitment firms, 3 or 4 months’ salary?

Your third-party recruitment company, or executive search firm calculate their service fee as a percentage of the successful candidate’s first year’s annual income.

But what is the percentage and what does annual income mean?7013_dollar_stack_colorLow_resize

The percentage will typically vary from, and be anywhere in between, 15% and 35% and even up to 40%. A standard definition of annual income is the total of the gross salary per month before tax multiplied by thirteen months plus other monetary benefits such as fixed allowances times twelve (e.g. transport, mobile phone, housing). The thirteenth month represents any fixed and variable bonuses no matter how many months a client ends up paying. Continue reading “What fee do you pay recruitment firms, 3 or 4 months’ salary?”

10 things candidates will hate you for doing

This message is not for you if applicants and candidates are queueing up outside your office every day looking for job opportunities, and you have absolutely no problem in finding and hiring people. Google, Apple and Starbucks come to mind.3401_Production_line_Low_res

Your corporate brand and value proposition may be so unique and spectacular that applicants will be on their knees begging for a job. At that very moment, they will take any abuse and arrogance just to get in the door.

If you recognise yourself and your company in the lines above, you may stop reading now; better check in with me next month. Continue reading “10 things candidates will hate you for doing”

Is Interim Executive a job for you?

This is now a career choice for many. Perhaps it’s something for you?

1169_athlete_winning_colourThe interim executive is a highly skilled, seasoned manager who is available for assignments of any duration, to either lend specialised expertise to a strategic project or to fill a critical skills gap.

Interim or contract roles tend to be for a set period of time, typically several months, and tend to be more for experienced professionals with niche skills who have to hit the ground running.

Interim executives are also known as fixed-term-contract-employees. They are employed by our clients in much the same way as permanent staff but for a fixed period only. Continue reading “Is Interim Executive a job for you?”