What Are You Looking For? Best Candidates Or The Best Employees?
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What Are You Looking For? Best Candidates Or The Best Employees?

by Ashok Grover

If you are wondering why in spite of your rigorous selection process, the new employees are not able to come up to your expectations, you will probably find the answer here... and certainly the solution!

Scenario 1:

The situation was tense. Once again, the post of Engineering chief had fallen vacant. The Chairman had heard about the excellent working of Menon, a brilliant guy working with an auto major, and was quite impressed with those reports. Quite often, he used to talk about getting that kind of person. And now he asked the HR chief straightaway to rope him in. Two months down the line, Menon was there and everybody appeared to be so much relieved, expecting that the life would be easy.

Unfortunately, the life for neither the new incumbent nor the company turned out to be easy and within less than two years, Menon decided to quit. Things were back to square one!

Scenario 2:

The hiring team was visiting the engineering school campus to recruit brilliant Freshers. End of a hectic day saw a shortlist of youngsters, who had crossed all the hurdles of meeting basic eligibility criteria, clearing aptitude test and the screening interview. Now, the time had come to make a final offer. The list included the topper of the institute and this achievement alone had earned him good points. All members of the selection committee had no doubts about hiring him. Then came a bombshell from the Chairman of the hiring team - the HR Chief, who declared that this guy would not be made an offer. The team was stunned!

Can you make out what went wrong in the first case and what reason prompted the unusual decision in the second case? Here runs the common thread - You are there not to select the best candidates; but the best employees!

You don't need any genius to decode this technicality. Just take care of the following:

  1. Wherever possible, try to get feedback from former supervisors of the potential employee. Of course, people can change, but neither too much, nor too quickly. Therefore, while past performance feedback is a valuable input; simple questions like "Would you rehire this employee" can bring out a lot more.
  2. More important than the past performance is the issue of cultural fit. A high performer in one organization may turn out to be a disaster in another. Make a note of your organization culture; understand the culture candidate has been exposed to, as well as his personal style and preferences. Very necessary to avoid stories like that of Menon.
  3. Don't get carried away by just one outstanding aspect of a candidate's profile or personality. Mathematical formulae and law of averages do not work on human beings. Every aspect has its own importance and perhaps what you call veto power! An excellent dish can get easily spoiled by little excess or lack of a small ingredient like salt.
  4. No two jobs are exactly similar and no job will always remain the same. As such, it is important to assess whether the potential employee will be able to adjust to the job you are offering, with appropriate training and mentoring. This ability will also help him to adjust to future needs and requirements of the changing role which, in these days, is a rule rather than exception. Remember, right attitude can help a person to acquire technical skills; but technical skills will be of no help to develop right attitude!
  5. You can very safely afford to reject a highly qualified and experienced candidate, if he is telling you negative stories about his current or past employer. If it is about your competitor and sounds like music to your ears, you may be tempted to make a blunder by hiring such an employee. Kill this temptation!

Make the above points an integral part of your hiring process. A robust, comprehensive hiring process, not only attracts the best employees, but it also reduces attrition and saves thousands of dollars. This is the time to address the basics to ensure that you make the very best hiring decisions for your organization - hiring the best employees and not the best candidates!

Ashok Grover is an expert in people assessment and focused executive / leadership coaching. He is Director at Skillscape, a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies.

His last assignment was with the JBM Group as Corporate Chief Human Resource Officer. He has over four decades of experience in operations, materials, information technology and people development with Parle Group, Mohan Meakins Group, Hawkins Cookers Limited and JBM Group.

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