Hiring for fit and the “forest for the trees”.

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Hire employees that fit your environment

Employee performance begins at the door. We often talk about a “hire for fit” strategy when we seek to fill empty positions. Unfortunately, we employ it far less often. Successful workplace cultures begin and end with people who talk with, not to, each other. At ReviewCloud we understand the value of feedback for employees, managers and leaders alike – whether they’re new hires or long-in-the-tooth. We continue to seek new ways to make employee performance engaging. This blog post was originally published on Quora where David Weisser writes about the subjects of employee engagement, performance management, performance reviews and human resources.

Employee performance begins at the door.

IT’s amazing to see the effort companies put into creating and executing employee performance strategies. It’s especially so, when you consider the often rote methodology followed for basic hiring. You see it all the time. A manager frantically googles interview-questions as though he or she will find the holy grail of talent acquisition in the moments before the next interview.

When I hire, I look for smarts. But, I also look for humility – a most elusive characteristic among experts.

When I interview consultants, I try to ask questions that elicit reasoned opinions. I want to see how they think, how they analyze data to make decisions and whether they can see “the forest for the trees.”

To this end, I set the table thus:

“A client’s all-male leadership team asked you to help them fill a recently vacated seat. There are two final candidates: Larry and Laura. Analyze the data and recommend the best choice.”

I describe them:

“Well-qualified, both candidates graduated from from top-tier programs. Each has equivalent years of experience. Highly comparable software-skills.” And so on.

As analysts, the interviewees continue to scratch for some reason to hire Larry over Laura, or vise versa. “Tell me again about their graduate programs.” “What clients did each work with at previous employers?” And, to every question, I answer with a version of “very similar”, “highly comparable” or “virtually indistinguishable.”

Fit = the right kind of person.

And then, without reason or rationale, but as predictable as sunset, it happens.

My obstinance is exhausting. Each candidate begins to use the leadership team’s gender as the fulcrum for the decision. “It sounds like the company is fairly male-dominated, right?” Male candidates almost always use a “why rock the boat” argument and ultimately recommend Larry. It’s important to reduce the time it takes to get up to speed. So, we should hire for better cultural fit. Female candidates are no better. They tend to use a “culture needs a shake up” argument when they recommend Laura. She is sure to breathe “fresh life” into a stifled organization.

When I confirm the candidate recommends our client make a hire based purely on gender considerations, I walk them to the door, remind them of the law, and say that “I don’t know.” was the answer I hoped for all along.

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