One of the great mysteries in Recruiting is finding a great candidate for the position and then the hiring manager rejects them based on ambiguous reasons. They were perfect, as if the resume and the job description were separated at birth. They had drive, were personable and had all the “right stuff” you thought the position required. But for some unknown reason, you can’t get the hiring manager to budge on this. He/she says “too cocky, won’t be received well by the team, might be a challenge to manage, overqualified.” All euphemisms for, ‘“This one kind of scares me. If hired, he/she could take my job.”
You have just experienced the “Selection Spiral” firsthand. It is a nice I/O Developent term for a very real danger to the competitiveness of organizations.
David Straker, principal consultant for Sygue, on the website www.Changingminds.org
defines “where managers have an ego need to feel superior to their charges. If they interview someone who seems to be better than them, they feel threatened by that person and are less likely to employ them.” The ego is a very strong motivator for all of us, not just leaders. It is a human component that must be understood and appreciated if HR is to be a successful as a leadership resource.
The implications create a real snowball effect in the organization as a whole. Straker identifies this as, “The subsequent spiral of managers appointing less able people than themselves is that there is a downward spiral in the talent that the company appoints.” As hiring managers continue to chose hires that are less qualified than themselves, the talent of the entire organization decreases with each hire. This results in decreased organizational performance – as if someone pressed the pause button on constant improvement.
What can Recruiters and HR professionals in this situation? Just a few things:
1. Get some real answers with each turn-down. Use probing questions to really understand the hiring manager’s needs and why this candidate fell short.
2. Make sure managers understand that quite often talent challenges you. High-performing employees take risks and it can be tough to direct that passion in the right direction.
3. Make sure all interviewers are properly trained and identify the selection spiral tendency that we ALL have to some degree or another.
4. Become an evangelist for evidence-based selection criteria in your organization’s selection process. Define the criteria for job success, identify the desired competencies, ask criterion-related questions in the interview process and score each individual accordingly on those identified competencies. For more information, read the Uniform Guidelines for Selection Procedures on the Department of Labor’s website and white paper, The Structured Interviewing: Raising the Psychometric Properties of the Employment Interview.
5. One of the metrics I have always tracked throughout my eleven year corporate recruiting career is promotions after hire by manager. Most organizations do not track or even look at this statistic when promoting managers or during performance reviews, (surprising, I know) but it is extremely important to the talent management of an organization. Trending this information over time will give management and HR a great indicator of the efficacy of hiring potential leaders and the development of these leaders once they come on-board.
Have other best practices to share? I’d love to hear them. Have feedback? I’d consider it a gift so please leave your comments below.
STRAKER, DAVID, (M.Sc., P.G.C.E., Dip.M., FRSA), http://changingminds.org/disciplines/hr/selection/selection_spiral.htm
CAMPION, M. A., PURSELL, E. D. and BROWN, B. K. (1988), STRUCTURED INTERVIEWING: RAISING THE PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES OF THE EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW. Personnel Psychology, 41: 25–42. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1988.tb00630.x
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, UNIFORM GUIDELINES ON EMPLOYMENT SELECTION PROCEDURES, www.dol.gov