So a guy walks into your office for a job interview. He has long hair and is dressed in jeans with sandals on his feet. As he sits down you immediately become aware of his “hygiene” issues. You put this aside and start to talk to him about his experience. You learn why he dropped out of college and all about his philosophy on how taking LSD helps his creative side and that eating the right food means that he never has to take a shower.
The interview finishes and you go back to the HR department to feed back on the candidate.
Do you commend them on their selection criteria or let rip on their failure to screen appropriately? Do you hire the candidate or fire the head of HR?
Of course, the scenario is unlikely to happen. Most HR departments are very good at screening out these people.
But wait a minute; the candidate I just described is actually a description of Steve Jobs. No wonder he had to start up his own company. Who’d hire him?
Naturally after the success of Apple, most companies would have done anything to have had Steve Jobs on their team. If only they could have hired him before he was so successful, but then would he have got through the screening process?
Does this seem irrelevant now that Mr Jobs is no more? Only if you believe that Steve Jobs was the only person on the planet with unique and amazing talent. Clearly that isn’t the case, but I can understand why many managers and directors come to that conclusion. Why, because maybe in interview after interview you never see that kind of talent walk into your office.
Perhaps HR are doing a very good job at screening these people out? You see, recruitment has become more about elimination than selection. E.g. How to reduce the perhaps thousands of applications down to a manageable number of candidates that can go through to interview stage.
To make this process easier, job profiles become longer, more specific and with more mandatory requirements. You don’t just need a degree, but also in a specific field, at a specific grade and obtained from a select number of universities. Job done; the list of candidates has been effortlessly reduced from thousands to just a few. Everyone else has been eliminated. The problem is so has Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and everyone else that doesn’t fit the mould and that’s the problem; Talent like innovation doesn’t fit the mould, often it breaks the mould.
So maybe it’s time to rip up your detailed job profiles and start with Talent. Anything that isn’t about the talent is just noise, worse it can deliberately discriminate against talented individuals who didn’t come from the clone factory and flow through one academic institution to the next. So job profiles should be short and only speak of the talent, not the background. Select and test on talent only.
Does that mean new processes in HR? Yes.
Does it mean it’s going to be harder and more time consuming? Yes.
Can you afford not to get the best talent? No.
When it comes to interviews, remember you are looking for talent. Talent is individually packaged and is never cloned. Don’t be put off by the packaging, after all, you could be interviewing the next Steve Jobs…