When you are hiring to fill a role, how do you screen for attitude?
Leadership blogs and management guides are full of advice on how to hire the best talent. A multitude of articles have been written about how attitude matters more than simply having the technical skills for the job.  Successful recruiters wax lyrical about finding hidden gems during the recruitment process.
As the story goes, despite the candidate having a terrible resume, these enlightened leaders identify some innate characteristic in the candidate and offer them a job on the spot. Over the years this individual turns out to be their most valuable employee, repays the opportunity they were given by performing miracles, and single-handedly drives the organisation to performance Nirvana!
Beyond providing inspiration, do these tales really hold true in real life? How can you find these diamonds in the rough?

Are recruiters really enlightened, or is there still a ‘tick box’ exercise in hiring?

Our experience of the reality is far more nuanced. Due to time constraints and the sheer volume of applicants for certain positions, most recruiters will filter candidates initially on simple criteria such as educational qualifications, previous roles and organisations a candidate has worked at, etc.
Very few organisations can afford to spend the time to interview all candidates and invest in face to face meetings to ascertain if an ‘off-beat’ candidate has the potential to be a star performer.

Typically, recruiters are under pressure to close roles, and incentivised to reduce the turn around time for hires. They have NO motivation to try and find candidates who are out of the ordinary. Can they really afford to take the risk of placing someone who didn’t meet the candidate profile, but has a slim chance of being a star performer?

Do Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) find the best talent?

An ATS, especially those now using some sort of machine learning to filter candidates, will tend to reject anyone who does not fit the prescribed job description and candidate profile and thus reduces the probability of anyone from a different background of getting through the initial screening round.

As the in-built bias in the recruitment process continues to reinforce itself through multiple iterations in the feedback loop, the risk is that the diversity of candidates shortlisted, reduces over time.

So, how does an organisation ensure that they can avoid these traps and bring in the diversity in talent that powers greater performance?  One CEO we met conducts all campus hiring personally and takes the time to interview all the applicants. How many others would have the time to do this?

There is clearly no simple answer, and the best solution will depend on the seniority of the hire, the size of the organisation and the role. Getting a recruitment consultant on board who understands the organisation’s goals, the culture and has an ability to think outside the box, may help solve this conundrum.

We are constantly striving to find unique, diverse talent for our most progressive clients.  We get to the heart of what a candidate is about.

To find out more about how we can help you with your talent acquisition requirements, get in touch.

This article was written by Nikunj Shah, the former founder and CEO of Datum Recruitment Services, and now founder and leader at Select Global Solutions in Executive Search and Recruitment solutions across Africa, India and other Emerging Markets. To speak to Nikunj about your talent requirements, get in touch at [email protected]