All of us who have recruited, selected and hired employees have gone through the experience when someone we thought was the perfect fit for the role starts struggling with the deliverables of the role within 3-4 moths of being hired.  Then it is a long cycle of feedback, coaching, frustration, negotiations and finally an emotionally draining and at times unpleasant exit of the role holder.

Wrong hires can cost your organization at least one year’s compensation of the employee as well as an opportunity loss for your business.

One of  the challenges that owners / MDs / business leaders face is how to assess the best fit for a role in their organization. For most of us, making the selection from a number of profiles which are presented to us is a simple process. Do an initial screening of CVs , find someone with the right qualifications and experience and then select the best candidate – right? . Wrong… do read on.

My experience working with Founders / Owners / MDs specially in the SME space is that the selection is more based on perception and less based on objective criteria of selection. Most of us tend to assess candidates and get a sense that a certain candidate will be a good fit for the role. We also believe that once the right candidate comes in front of us we will know. The “Halo effect” of some candidates who put up a good show can be misleading. In most cases we tend to fit the role to the candidate who impressed us, rather than the candidate to the role.

Here are a few tips to help you make better selections :

Firstly, you need to be clear about what are the required qualifications, experience and behavioural competencies required to succeed in the role. The first two are normally easy to list out, however, the behavioural competencies are tricky ones, especially in case of mid and senior roles.

So what are behavioural competences?

In simple words, these are the desired behaviours exhibited in a work situation which leads to improved outcomes/results.

Examples of behavioural competencies could be communication skills, interpersonal effectiveness, customer focus / centricity, team work, collaboration etc.

The next step is to understand the level of competence you need in each of the behavioural competencies to be successful. It is obvious that the communication skills required to be successful as a sales executive are going to be very different in level to those required by a VP of Sales.

Once the level of competency required is defined comes the critical piece- how do we assess if the person being assessed has the required level of that specific competency.

A classic interview conducted by an MD / Owner / Business head has a predictability of success of approximately. 10-12%.  Shocked?

Predictability of success is the notion that when you feel at the end of the assessment that you have the perfect candidate for the role, there is a 10-12% chance that he/she will be as good in the role as you have assessed. A trained interviewer in the technique of competency based interview or a behavioural event interview can take this predictability of success to 18- 20%. So if our most trusted method of selection has such low success ratio then what can a business owner do?

Few tips:

  1. Based on your analysis of the role, please list out the qualification, experience and behavioural competencies required to succeed in the role.
  2. Make a list of behaviours and their level which you are looking for in the ideal candidate for that role.
  3. Make a plan of how you will assess the required behaviours- through questions or any other method. A smart way is to frame a situation and ask the candidate to deal with it. These situations could be created through role plays, mock client presentations, dealing with an issue at work etc. At least use three situations to assess the competencies and associated behaviours. This obviously will mean that you may spend 3-4 hours in assessing one candidate, however, this is time well spent as else you would be spending more time, effort and energy in managing a poor hire in the next 6-12 months.
  4. See if more than one person can be part of the assessment panel to average out positive or negative bias.

Mr.Rajiv Misra                                                                                                                R Square Consulting