The Importance Of The Person?

Importance of the person

I recently read an article by Lou Adler on reducing hiring mistakes, and in particular placing the emphasis on identifying motivated individuals over purely competent individuals. This then raises the question of finding your golden competent AND motivated “ideal” candidate, but then struggling to fit them in culturally.

Culture is a massive criteria area for us at Carrot. We wouldn’t work well with somebody who didn’t fit our own culture, and we know from clients, candidates, and our own time in the industry that it’s very important for you too to have people in your business who share your cultural outlook. Research and Insight is a massively collaborative industry and one with long hours, travel, and a great need to foster positive environment.

But working with Culture Criteria raises some very challenging questions. What is your culture? Is it team dependent? Relative to your own clients? How do you tell if a candidate will fit? Is your culture in a qual team identical to your culture in a quant? How do you assess this at interview?

How do you add to an existing, positive culture without a) finding identikit individuals who ultimately might not add anything or b) risking ruining it?

Typical interview tools such as creative tasks, competency based questions, and informal team meetings can be a great way of uncovering how people might get along with a team, but the fact is that finding out about shared about hobbies, and where people have travelled to doesn’t always mean they’re going to work well with everybody else.

To get this right, throughout the interview process, put your team or future line manager at the centre of what’s happening. They should be the one who briefs recruiters (internal or external), adds the finer points of a person specification, reviews CVs, and suggests the key questions that need asking. It’s time consuming, but it’s far more time consuming to unsuccessfully carry out interviews, or worse, hire badly.

You should not be afraid to ask questions such as ‘how do you best work?’ or ‘what do you find demotivating?’ – this gives insight into how people are going to respond on a day to day basis with what you have in place, without necessarily asking questions they’ll respond positively to for the sake of it (such as, how do you work in teams? To which almost every candidate will fluff a positive response).

Personality profiling is a tool I highly recommend, and we frequently profile the same type of job in different teams, coming out with very varying ‘ideal’ profiles. Looking at how a candidate is motivated can be a huge indicator of how they fit into a team. Some people seek reassurance from line manager, go off clients feedback, hitting KPIs or revenue targets, and others are simply motivated by being able to work in an industry they like.  We offer job profiling for free, which gives an idea of the level of dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance (DISC system) expected of the future postholder, and even if you don’t go the whole hog and profile each candidate, it gives a framework to think beyond vague wish lists which is easier to measure against and assess.

And lastly, cultural fit is almost impossible to assess from the CV alone, and if you’re making judgements about whether a person will fit culturally based on their previous jobs, hobbies, or education you’re likely to be screening out many potential matches unfairly. If you think they have the skills to do the job, speak with them to find out the rest – not the other way round.

Liz Diez is an Associate Partner at Carrot Intelligence Recruitment, a niche research and business intelligence recruitment consultancy, with 6 years market research recruitment experience.  

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