Whenever I meet anyone who makes hiring decisions, I ask how they make a choice when they have a great pool of candidates. The most frequent answers I hear are, “Well, I’ll go with whoever seems to be the best personality fit,” or “I’ll go with my gut.” Unfortunately this approach does not account for the potential cost of a mistake if that “gut feeling” turns out instead to have been related to what the hiring manager ate for lunch that day. It’s easy for mistakes to happen in the traditional hiring process, because every candidate puts their best self forward in a job interview. That’s the reason a lot of companies use behavioral assessments to take some of the guesswork out of getting a complete picture of the candidate.
Now, a behavioral profile is a handy-dandy tool; it can tell you a lot about how a person might behave in a variety of situations and how they will tend to perform over time. It can give you the keys to what motivates them and explore their stress level or morale at the time of the assessment. But even with this goldmine of information, it’s still possible to hire the wrong person for the job! It’s perfectly natural for people to be drawn to others like themselves, so it can be very easy to hire somebody because you like them—regardless of whether they are really right for doing all the work that needs to be done.
Why is it so important to match someone behaviorally with the right job? The better the match, the less chance you’ll waste money spent on hiring, training, fixing mistakes, and (when things don’t work out) replacing that person down the road. The better suited a person is to their job in terms of their natural preferences as well as their skills and abilities, the lower their stress level will be. The worse the match, the higher their stress level. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the most talented candidate in your industry; if they are in the wrong job, that high stress will eventually show up in the person’s health, decision-making ability, and overall job performance.
In any hiring decision, once you’ve determined that a candidate has the knowledge and experience required for the job, you should examine two other aspects: 1). What are the demands of the job in behavioral terms? 2). What are the behavioral styles of the direct supervisor and coworkers in this position? Just as with the behavioral profile of the candidate, there are ways to create a very accurate behavioral profile of a job, using both objective and subjective factors.
Each company should look at every job in the organization in terms of behavior. There is no “one size fits all” behavioral job description for a particular kind of position or field; two different companies might have different behavioral pictures of the very same job! For example, Alpha Company and Omega Inc. both need accounting clerks; the job is to run the numbers and make sure they are right. Simple enough. But at Alpha, the clerk can do this job with very little interaction with other staff outside of the department, while over at Omega, the clerk will spend about a third of his or her time following up with other members of the company by phone and in person. Throw in the different behavioral styles of other people on the accounting staff at Alpha and Omega, and then look again at how similar those jobs are! Even if they had identical resumes, the person who would succeed best at Alpha would probably not be Omega’s best possible hire.
Done right, comparing a behavioral picture of a person with a behavioral picture of a job lets a hiring manager envision the future—both what will work great and what pitfalls might lay ahead. For instance, if you already know that your candidate prefers to work steadily and thoroughly to complete projects, her big weakness may be her inability to meet short deadlines. You know (because you’ve seen her behavioral profile too!) that the department manager is a very aggressive, independent person, and so you can foresee him butting heads with that very aggressive, independent project manager you’d like to hire. You can weigh the importance of these factors before you put the person in the job — and even better, you’re equipped already to put measures in place that will minimize those problems as much as possible before they ever happen! The consulting arm at OWLS can help you with these situations.
By Erik Henyon – CEO OWLS