Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How to Spot A Player Talent in an Interview

Guest post from Rick Crossland:

Why Don’t Executives Love to Interview?
It is surprising how many executives and even HR professionals do not like or look forward to interviewing candidates.  After all, this should be the celebration of bringing on another great employee, right?  Their fear is likely because many of them have historically not had very good success predictably selecting top performers through their current interview process.

Here are some of the reasons hiring managers do not enjoy better success in hiring top performers:

1.    They do not follow a structured hiring process.

2.    They ask the wrong kind of questions in the interview.

3.    They are looking for the wrong attributes in candidates.

4.    They are often fooled by candidates that talk a good game, but lack results and or character.
The cost of underperformers to your organization is immense. When an interview is carefully and properly done—and the right questions are asked, it is very straightforward to determine if your candidate is an A, B or C Player.  You only want A Players—those employees in the top 10% of the workforce for the salary paid that you would enthusiastically rehire.  The recently released book, The A Player is dedicated to defining and showing your executives and team members what A Player performance looks like.

Let’s examine the factors needed to successfully spot A Player talent consistently in your interviews.
Use a Structured Interview Process

In a typical interview process, HR managers, hiring managers and other team members interview a candidate in short, back-to-back interviews.  You have the good intention to thoroughly compare notes after the interviews, but often this never happens.  If it does, the debrief process usually does not include enough specificity on the strengths, weaknesses, results and skill sets of a candidate.
Instead, follow a structured behavioral-based interview process.  Get your entire decision team in to interview the candidate in one two-to-four hour sitting.  A longer, more intensive interview like this helps you see the differences between A, B and C Players, as the latter cannot provide enough details of their accomplishments.  After the interview, immediately go through the specific results the candidate has accomplished and compare notes for inconsistencies and where the candidate exaggerated his or her capabilities. Comparing your top two or three finalists using this methodology will yield amazing clarity.

Managers Typically Ask the Wrong Types of Questions in an Interview
Recently some HR managers of trendy, high tech companies have espoused some seemingly cool interview questions and techniques.   These include handing candidates a marker and having them sketch out the process of their favorite hobby on a whiteboard, asking if they believe in life in outer space, or the proverbial “tell me about yourself” interview question.

The problem with these techniques is they tell you nothing about what the candidate has accomplished in your industry.  Even if they happen to map out an industry-specific process, they are likely parroting what they saw someone else do.  They may just possess academic knowledge on a topic, not firsthand results.
It is important to understand that the primary determinant to a candidate’s future success is his or her actual past accomplishments.  To determine these, you must use behavioral interview questions.  A behavioral interview asks specific questions about the candidate’s actual accomplishments.  This is far more predictive than a situational interview, which asks hypothetical questions that are quite easy for a candidate to fabricate answers.

Managers Often Look for the Wrong Attributes in Candidates
Managers are often fooled by the wrong kinds of candidates.  The candidates that tend to most often fool managers are the flashy candidates or “showdogs.”  These types of candidates typically have good emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) skills and tend to be well dressed and articulate.  They tend to woo hiring managers with buzzwords, industry jargon, name dropping and strategic sounding talk. 

But don’t let these candidates fool you with these sweet-nothings.  These are candidates who talk a good game, but do not produce results.  In about 18-24 months they will be repeating their speech at another unsuspecting company.
The key to identifying these candidates is to use the structured interview and behavior interview tools mentioned above.  In addition, develop a job scorecard with defined performance attribute metrics on all aspects of the role.  A sample format of this job scorecard can be obtained at www.aplayeradvantage.com/resources. 

Ask specific behavioral-based questions around the scorecards.  These will sound like “When you were the marketing manager at Atlas Corp., describe a time you improved the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing actions.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?”  Or, “Describe a B or C Player you coached up to be an A Player.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?” 
As you have already most likely ascertained, the showdog candidate will not be able to hold up to this level of scrutiny.  They will try to take credit for their teammates’ results—but cut through this smoke screen by asking them “What were your specific contributions and results.”

These types of flashy candidates appear impressive, but they aren’t. You do a disservice to your organization hiring them. 
The above-mentioned tools will help you spot A Players who may or may not have great interview skills, but can produce real results.  While some folks wow you from answer one, other great candidates are a little more shy or humble.

Remember, if you want to be an A Player manager or leader, you must have a team of A Players. Therefore, being able to spot A Players in an interview becomes an invaluable skill to you.

Rick Crossland is author of the book The A Player. He works with organizations across the country to transform good companies into great companies. His practice, the A Player Advantage, which he founded eight years ago, is consistently employed to help take quality businesses to the next level of efficiency. He works with organizations across the country to transform good companies into great companies with his A Player approach.

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