Lucy Dunn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) | 27 February 2015

lucy-dunnThe peak season of hiring is here. After strategies have been set, plans been made, new years (Gregorian and Lunar) celebrated, companies usually look to hire or rehire (due to the natural turnover) the people that will actually carry out these strategies and plan in the heat of the competitive market. A hiring manager, will have plenty of opportunities to interview candidates during your career. Many experts and senior leaders would agree that interviewing is the most important skills one needs to master to be a true success. Not only does it help the company to grow sustainably, no one person can change a company alone but by hiring highly qualified people who are well-suited to the company, job longevity and loyalty are created. This is the best possible legacy to have associated with your name and it also helps you find successors so that you can promote up the career ladder. Admired by many, Google has a unique hiring culture, and some techniques are certainly very specific to the technology industry because their war for talent is more fierce than most other industries today, however there are some fundamentals which I believe to be applicable in non-tech industry. After recently read “How Google works”, here are some of their hiring best-practice which might help you in your next interviews:

  • “The herd effect”. The best workers are like a herd, they like and tend to follow each other. The brilliant wants to work with the brilliant. If you can afford to hire a few stellar candidates, very likely that similar caliber will take notice and be willing to take a call if not immediately follow suit. It is like “one stone hit multiple birds”
  • Hire learning animals. Companies want to grow and be profitable. In order to have a growing company, the best way to make sure it happens is to hire “learning machines”. These are the individuals who seek to understand how the work product comes into existence so that they can constantly be adjusting to maximize the end result. “It is a lucky man who wins one deal, it is a wealthy man who can learn from his success and repeat it”. These employees are the most likely to embrace or even welcome changes and challenges, rather than fighting it. In today’s economic climate, these employees should be highly sought-after, because companies benefit from these people’s opportunity/growth mindset. They believe that their qualities can be modified and cultivated. These are the true growth drivers. Some would argue that they merely want an operator, or customer service agent who can repeat the same tasks day in day out. The problem is, that may satisfy and fulfil your current need if you have understood all the possible needs but that is never realistic. Taking a longer view, do you really want someone who will settle for the current level of responsibility, challenge, and opportunity for years to come? Few great performers (at any level) would want to do the same thing from the time they left college until retirement, hence you need to be hiring candidates who have more to offer and you need to be show them by your actions that you also have their best interests at heart. Looking for learning animals even if they don’t have the specific skill for a certain job can help you to find highly motivated and success-proven candidates from within, which could also work beautifully as one of your retention strategies.
  • Another best practice is to looks for “passionate” candidate. Employees who ARE passionate most likely don’t say “I am PASSIONATE”, not even in the interviews. So how can you as an interviewer, tell if someone is passionate about doing the job/anything? A skilled interviewer need to be able to look for the traits which indicate passion. Things like persistence, grit, seriousness, and the boy language when a candidate is talking about what is important or what they are most proud of. Most of us didn’t start out successful, but passionate employees will do the important tasks, even if they are difficult and often work on them for a long time. If they are not successful the first time, and he/she will learn from the experience/failure. These are the kind qualities you should be looking for in candidate. Another way to assess their passion is to ask about their hobbies, what they do in down-times. If they like to engage in activities which require time, patience, dedication, sweat, physical endurance, mental agility… etc, it would be a very good indication about how passionate they are in life and that is often a pretty good indicator about their prospective on work and everything else.
  • Look beyond your “usual suspects”. You know where your competition is working and successful and you want their staff because they can easily “plug and play”. Yes it is a good starting tactic to look for people with the same job title or area of responsibility, however, there are other equally brilliant minds who might not necessarily be doing the same job, or working at your competitors. Successful managers usually set a wider aperture in order to capture the rare-finds and the results often result in long term company contributors. What are the key attributes that your company needs may be more important than a particular knowledge base.

Depending on the type of interview, the level of candidates, the function and scope of the responsibilities of the job, the hiring manager will need to be flexible and adopt different approaches in order to make the best assessment of each hiring situation and this is why it is important to keep training yourself to be a “learning animal.”

What works best for you? What doesn’t work so much? I would love to hear your experience.


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