How Picking a Candidate is Like Picking a Turkey

November 25, 2015 | Talent Management


turkey-669x1024As Thanksgiving approaches, domestic planners across the country are waging full-scale invasions of their local supermarkets. Their ambition: to select the perfect bird for the family feast. For those readers who’ve never been on a Holiday Turkey Hunt, it’s no easy task.

There’s a lot to consider

Does your budget allow for a fresh gobbler, or will you have to resort to the deep freeze? Is grandpa going to want a guineafowl with luscious breasts, or is he more of a leg man? Of course you’ll want your selection to be the right size: not too big, certainly not too small. Butterball or Honeysuckle White? Stuffing or dressing? Slow roasted or deep fried?! The choices can make your head spin!

Keep the Turkey on the Table — and out of the office!

Finding the perfect turkey is hard. Finding the perfect candidate for an open position can seem downright impossible. One of the biggest problems with choosing a good candidate is that oftentimes hiring managers, executives involved with the search, and other stakeholders can’t even agree on what makes a good candidate. In an oft-cited Harvard Business Review article from May of 2009, reporters found that employers are way too subjective about the hiring process, often relying on personal preferences when selecting a candidate.

This can lead to a lot of turkey hires (and nobody wants to hire a turkey). It’s gotten so bad that some big companies like Xerox have decided to let computers replace people when choosing who to hire. In most cases, we wouldn’t recommend going that far — but we do think you need to gather a lot of objective data using a wide variety of resources to land a great executive (and avoid the turkeys).

Tangible tips to turn down turkeys

Career Partners International offers five tips for assessing and landing the perfect new employee:

1. Take a balanced approach

You wouldn’t take home a turkey that you haven’t closely inspected — your candidates deserve the same exhaustive analysis!

Use a wide variety of tools and data gathering methods to assess candidates. Don’t skip the old-fashioned legwork, like interviewing and checking references, but don’t forget to mix in some more objective assessment methods such as computerized testing and hands-on skill trials.

2. Don’t rely on one tool

It’s important to know the weight of a turkey, but is that enough information to decide if she’s the bird for you? Of course not!

By the same token, you might think you can thoroughly psychoanalyze a potential hire in one interview, or maybe you are champing at the bit to run that expensive skill test you just paid for through its paces, but don’t stop there! Never rely too heavily on any one assessment method. Better to try to build a “whole person” profile using a variety of instruments!

3. Use only quality assessments

If the butcher’s scale is off, you’re gonna pay for too much meat. If your candidate assessments are off, you’re gonna pay a whole lot more!

This is where having search professionals on your side can really pay off. Not all assessments are created equally, and it takes a lot of experience and training to know the difference. An assessment method that delivers faulty data can do much more harm than good, so watch out.

4. Avoid biased instruments

“Farm Fresh Turkey,” says the label. “Nasty Old Freezer-Burned Bird” may be the reality. Beware of bias!

Bias can have a strongly negative effect on hiring outcomes, and much worse, it can land you in legal trouble! Be sure your tools are thoroughly objective and provide equal opportunities for candidates of all backgrounds.

5. Consider outsourcing

Let’s face it, there are some years when you just have to call it a day and drive down to the local delicatessen to order a pre-cooked feast. There’s no shame in it!

If all of the above advice seems a little daunting, don’t feel bad. It takes a lot of expensive training and years of experience to become a bona fide staffing professional. If you have a vital role that needs to be filled, it might be time to call in the experts. Make sure your staffing agency is professional, qualified, and knows your industry through and through. Be wary of fly-by-night staffing agencies who care more about maximizing their own commission than your company’s success. You deserve one of the many great talent search firms who strive to build meaningful relationships with clients as trusted advisers.

(Of course, we hope you’ll consider TalentBridge for your next search!)

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