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Interview resume-based recruiting is all about “good enough” hiring, not future performance excellence on-the-job.

Talk-based Recruiting Persists

The academic research is clear – talk during recruiting interviews is not correlated with eventual final candidate performance on-the-job. But everybody continues to do to use talk-based interviewing as their primary recruiting tool. Why?

Talk-based interviewing finds “good enough” candidates – on the technical skill level and culture fit level. Talk-based interviewing does not systematically succeed in finding the “best candidates”. It does not need to. Good enough is good enough for most organizations. Few organizations are really excellent. Most organizations talk ‘excellence’, even when they don’t ‘walk’ it.

Recruiting for Excellent, As Opposed to ‘Good Enough’ Performance

It is possible to recruit for excellence. It takes “show us how you will perform with the people that you will be working with” recruiting techniques. This means crafting work-based role plays and work-based simulations. They are more difficult to set up and to facilitate than interviews. Creating them, and then facilitating them, is far beyond the skill of most recruiting professionals.

The best way to see how a person will behave in the future – on the job, is to get them to behave currently.  Get candidates to do, not talk about what they have done.

What does it take to recruit for excellent performance?

Job-based role-plays and work simulations can lead to a more accurate assessment of performance fit. Involving future peers in interacting with candidates and then systematically collecting their impressions of fit allows some level of assessment of cultural fit.

The best hires – excellent performance fit to a particular job and superb emotional fit to a specific organization’s culture – are often temporary workers who have already “demonstrated” how they will perform on the job. You see what they can do and how they will interact with their fellow co-workers during their temporary assignment. The best predictor of future behavior is always actual current behavior, not talk about behavior.

Bringing the person in on a temporary basis is the best way to assess both performance fit and culture fit. It remains the best hiring tactic if you are hiring for excellence. If you are not, then do what most organizations do – hire for ‘good enough’. Then the talk that happens in recruiting interviews will suffice.


The background to this set of 4 blog posts

I learned something important about myself on the weekend. I am less patient with myself now and much less accepting of some of the things others in my society believe about life in organizations.

I don’t expect to be seen as being any more “right” in my views now than in my earlier years. I don’t expect folks in general to agree with me any more than they did in the past – that is up to them.

But I do find that I am not prepared to engage in as much dialogue about these beliefs with those who see things differently, unless that dialogue leads to real constructive action that benefits both of us.

I have worked for a long time, and am still actively involved with clients, and my own business. Over the course of my career, I have kept up a constant involvement in academic life – as a night student, graduate student, part time lecturer and distance education participant. I have, and still do, read widely in management and workplace psychology. I have thought hard about what I was doing at work and how I was leading the folks who worked for me.

I have come to these four conclusions by reflecting on both the reading and the experience. I have quietly held them for years. They underlie all my consulting work and business writing.

The 4 conclusions

  1.    Performance appraisal is a waste of time if you are looking for business results. ( http://the-right-talent.ca/performance-appraisal-is-a-waste-of-time/ )
  2.    Organizations waste the dollars they spend on interpersonal skill training (e.g. programs on leading others, resolving conflict …). (http://the-right-talent.ca/most-soft-skill-training-a-waste-of-organizational-dollars/)
  3.    Interview-based recruiting is all about “good enough” hiring, not future performance excellence on-the-job. (http://the-right-talent.ca/recruiting-and-good-enough/) – this post
  4.    Life in organizations is much more tribal than you think. – coming

I will expand on each of these in separate blog post.

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