Hiring unconventional talent
The hiring process is often hampered by hiring managers holding either an outdated or too-narrow view of the scope of the roles they are trying to fill. Unfortunately, this can lead to overspecialisation within your team or a lack of soft skills that may not directly relate to a specific role but are nonetheless essential to the functionality of your team. It can also reinforce unconscious prejudices that prevent innovation and improved efficiency within your organisation as a whole. To make your hiring process more inclusive, especially of applicants who may have non-traditional backgrounds, adopt these three strategies:
1. Create a picture of the role you’re trying to fill and its wider influence within your organisation, allow candidates to envision where they might fit and lend value to your overall goals. Pre-interview information, job descriptions, and interviews themselves should all tell a story to your candidate and that story is one of their future success within the role. Not only does this give the candidate a results-oriented mindset from the get-go, but it also sells a culture of inclusivity, support, and solutions-based thinking to them throughout the hiring process.
2. Focus on potential rather than pedigree. During interviews, employ open-ended questions that invite candidates to reveal their unique qualities, personality types, and creativity. A good example might be: “When have you had a job for which there were no opportunities for advancement available. How did you remain motivated to excel in your work?”.
Questions like these provide information that can’t always be uncovered on forms or CVs since you’re creating a space that feels safe for the candidate to tell you about themselves rather than their quantifiable accomplishments or qualification. Gaining an understanding of would-be candidates personally will inform you as to whether they’ll suit company culture, as well as how to effectively lead and motivate them within the role.
3. Use structured questions. Structured questions come in several forms, but the STAR system has proven consistently useful in filtering the best applicants from the rest. STAR refers to the criteria by which an applicant’s answers to your questions can be judged specifically by their containing reference to the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of given professional scenarios. The type of questions you ask should be focused on the long-term success of a role rather than immediate candidate viability.
Examples may include:
· Why do you feel you would be a good fit within our company culture?
· How do you think you can contribute to a compassionate, productive, and inclusive work environment?
· What do you think you can bring to this role that is unique to your experience and motivations?
· Where do you think your work will impact most heavily on our long-term goals?
Applicants will naturally refer to past examples and experiences to bolster the case for their desirability and expertise in answering these questions. Your job is to pay attention to the STAR criteria and how effectively they are utilised and addressed and to award a point in their favour for each one that is. It’s crucial, of course, that you do not prompt candidates with regards to STAR but rather allow their value to emerge organically.