You will never find a candidate who is a 100% fit!


Does a 100% fit candidate even exist or are we searching for the purple squirrel? Darn, I hate the analogy of the purple squirrel so much!

My issue with a candidate “fitting” the role is a constant struggle I have with hiring managers. Employers would put in place assessments and tests to gauge candidates’ ability to perform a job, and that’s perfectly fine. At the end of the day, they do need to hire someone that they’re confident of to be able to deliver.

The question is, “Do we really know what we are looking for in a candidate?”

  • Are we measuring the right things?
  • For the things that we are measuring, does it really matter?

We all know that passing the hiring assessment or the interview is not guarantee of performance, and sometimes a rejected candidate could turn out to be a diamond in the rough. And, one of the most famous story in recent time is about Alibaba Founder Jack Ma’s amazing account of how he’s being rejected for the 30 jobs he applied to before starting Alibaba.

What is wrong with the way we do interviews? Is there a fundamental flaw in the system? And, is there such thing as a 100% fit?

There’ll never be a 100% fit!

Let’s face it. Finding a 100% fit is impossible. There’s just no way to tell if a candidate is going to be a perfect fit for the role. Even if this candidate feels like a 100% fit, there’s no guarantee of performance.

Employers not knowing what they’re looking for

This is not in a negative way. Hiring managers usually have an idea of what they’re looking for, but what exactly are they’re looking for?

With most hiring managers, you would find a rather clear picture of what an ideal candidate would look like. However, you will also find that there is a fair bit of flexibility and also a willingness to want to understand what other skill sets the slate of candidates can bring to the team. This is interesting as you would had thought that employers would have pretty much a fix set of requirements for what they’re hiring for, but in actual fact, there is usually a fair amount of tweaking to the roles as the search progresses. This could result in a very different hire from the original requirements.

So, what are we assessing for?

All of us assesses a candidate for a combination of different things with a variety of different techniques. A common approach many us use is to identify a set of “must haves” and assess the candidates against this set of 3 to 5 items. Combined with an idea of of what the role is about, a little bit of gut feel and a lot of assumptions, we derive a hiring decision. As much as we like to feel that there is a lot of consideration and science behind how we hire, a large part of it is very subjective.

And, what is the problem?

The problem with today’s recruitment process is that we try to over complicate it too much. There used to be a model where craftsmen would identify young talents they felt is right for the trade, give them an apprenticeship and eventually they would learn the trade and strike out on their own. While we can argue that all this is impractical in today’s modern age, which I agree by the way. The point in this analogy is that hiring is often based on an assessment of potential, and success comes with the naturing of the talent that’s been brought in to do the job.

The issues we have today in our recruitment process is that we try to assess and measure too many things in a candidate which increases the amount of resources that is required to make a hire. This drives up the rejection rate and increases the time to hire translating to a higher hiring cost and increased opportunity cost of not having the person on the job earlier.

The recommendation?

I would like ask all the recruiters and hiring managers that’s reading this to try a different approach.

Look at the assessment of a candidate from a different angle. Instead of trying to hire for the perfect fit, try to look at it from the angle of assessing for acceptable risk.

What does mean?

All new hires will come with risks. Regardless how successful the candidates had been in their last jobs, that performance came as a result of the conditions and environment at that point in time when they were on that job. With that in mind, consider the following steps:

  • Build a slate of candidates that can do the job based on a clear and concise set of criteria.
  • Instead of assessing the candidates for how well they can do the job (as that was a given – they needed to be able to do the job to get on the list), assess these candidates for the likelihood to fail in the job!
  • Remove the ones that are “high risks”. However, remember that all is are relative to the candidates you have on the slate, so if you find yourself removing everyone from the list, you should re-evaluate the role and how you’ve built the slate.
  • You can use additional rounds of interviews to get this slate to the top 2 or 3 candidates
  • Evaluate this finalist slate of candidates and, and look at what is needed to mitigate the risks of them failing in the job
  • Assess the resources that is needed to be to be put in place and build that into your new hire on-boarding plan

With this, you would have a good hire that can do the job, an idea of what could go wrong, and more importantly a plan on how to mitigate this.

As recruiters and hiring managers, we all need to accept the fact that every hire comes with risks. When we change the way we look at a hiring decision from trying to “buy the result” to “building the structure”, we would naturally look at ways that the new hire can succeed and flourish in the new environment.

This way, you would had made a quality hire that could last longer. If all fails, remember the probation period was put there for a reason. 🙂

Would love to hear what you think about this topic. Share your thoughts and comments below! Happy hiring!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric is also the Advisor for Workbond and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

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Age doesn’t matter… It shouldn’t!


In a recent conversation with a close friend of mine, he commented that with age, everything seem to take more time.

It could be true in many ways. Like I can’t run as fast as I used to, but I was never fast to begin with.

However, he was referring to his job search, and how the many people he spoke with were politely turning him away. As much as he liked to believe that it’s due to his experience, but it is hard to imagine how a veteran like himself can be faulted for having too much or too little experience in something that he’s spent his whole life in.

As much as we tried to look away from conveniently attributing the lack of success to age, the signs were clear, and we ended up talking about the differences in approaching a job search.

I like to think that age’s got nothing to do with it. Thinking back, I’ve hired matured candidates, and one of things I’ve noticed is an immense amount of experience in their CV, which got me excited. It’s somewhat like finding a candidate that can do (or had done) practically everything we asked for in the JD.

As we talked about his job search adventures, we started listing out some very interesting observations and tips. While these are some generic job search tips, but my friend who’s a matured job seeker still found it very useful!

1) Chin up and keep the morale high
The truth is, regardless of age, a proper job search process will definitely take time. Yes, there are cases where the process is short. However, as you are looking to invest your next few years with an organisation, I’m sure you will also be looking to research and pick the best fit.

Thus, be prepared for a long process, and if something comes along sooner, it’s a bonus.

2) Leverage on technology
There are a lot of resources online. Such as Linkedin and Glassdoor just to name a few. A well put together online profile attracts recruiters. Some of the senior executives I know put in effort in making sure that their profile stays current and relevant.

Make use of the job alerts to keep you posted on what job’s available, so you don’t have to track it religiously.

3) Network!
It is an open secret that one of the most effective ways to land a job is through your professional network. Don’t worry if it’s not very big to begin with, work with something that you’re comfortable with.

From time to time, there will be networking sessions and conferences that is relevant to your industry and field of work. These are some of the best places to meet new people professionally.

Personally, I find Linkedin a good way to expand my network. You can start by joining groups and participating in some discussions.

Last buy not least, taking an online MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) course and participating in the discussion forums could be an interesting way to meet people of similar interest. You end up learning something new and useful in the process. I did various programs with Coursera and found it very useful.

4) Know where the jobs are
According to a survey by JobVite on Social Recruiting, 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts and 78% of recruiters have made a hire through social media.

Increasingly, recruiters are moving towards recruiting via social media.

This doesn’t mean that more traditional channels such as newspaper, and online job boards doesn’t work anymore. It just means that you probably find more jobs via the social media platforms.

5) What do you really want to do?
A lot of candidates I talk to seemed to be able to do a wide range of jobs. Thinking back, when you’ve been working for so many years, I can see how that could be the case.

While it is good to sound versatile, and able to take on a wide variety of tasks, sometimes, it can work against you. You can either come across as someone who doesn’t know what you want, a jack of all trade or just over qualified for the role.

A savvy candidate would first seek to understand what the role entails and speak specifically to the role and its requirements.

Having said that, being specific doesn’t mean you need to sell yourself short. You can pick up specific segment of your experience to emphasis and elaborate, addressing the specific job requirements.

I wish you all the best in your job search.

Cheers

Eric Wong

Eric Wong is Head of Talent Acquisition & Development (APAC) at Polycom, and blogs about how video collaboration can benefit the HR function on Polycom’s “The View from APAC”. Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

So, you got called for an interview… What’s next?


It’s the start of the New Year and here’s my first blog article to kick it off!

A couple of friends I spoke with told me that they’ve made it their New Year’s resolution to look for a new job!

Interestingly, companies experience the highest level of attrition during this in Q1. This is usually after the bonus or annual wage supplement (AWS) payout in December. In countries where the Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated, the attrition numbers usually peak just after the festive season.

This usually translates to hiring in late Q1 and early Q2 for most companies.

It is always flattering to receive some love and attention from recruiters (or headhunters as we like to call them).

So, you got approached for an opportunity, or even been invited to attend an exploratory interview… What’s next?

That’s quite a foolish question isn’t it? The answer is simply a “Yes, let’s explore”, or “No, I’m not interested at this point of time”.

Let’s just assume it’s a decent opportunity and you are slightly tempted, or the call could be an outcome of your recent application… What’s next?

You would agree with me that the next most important thing to do is to prepare! Here goes…

The recruiter (or the person who’s reached out to you)

Most of us are contacted by someone from the recruitment team, or someone who’s hiring for their own team/ department. This is one of the best sources of information. Always try to get as much information as possible. They may or may not have the information, but there’s no harm trying.

Don’t be put off by if they may sound a bit rushed to setup the interview and have little time fill you in on the role. If you are a strong fit for the role, they need you more than you need them.

You can try asking for the following:

  • Job Description (JD)
  • The process and who’s on the panel of interviewers
  • What are some of the things they’re looking for, or challenges that they are looking to solve with this hire

The Company

Always check up the company. Even if you know the company well, don’t be complacent. They might have evolved through growth, acquisition or mergers. A couple good places to start are:

The panel and people

Professional social networking sites such as Linkedin had made it so convenient for us to look up profiles of employees in any given organization. (You might want to explore getting a premium account with Linkedin – There should be a trial account available)

Where possible, I would always advice candidates to take a look at the panel of interviewers that they will be meeting with.

The panel of interviewers is usually made up of the hiring manager and key stake holders or people that the role would have to interact with.

This would give you a better understanding of who they are and what they do. Plan your interview with questions that relates to the interviewer’s role. Remember, as much as the company’s sizing you up as a candidate, you need to also get a feel of the people that you will be working with. More importantly, if you would be comfortable with working with them.

Another thing I that I would look at would be the employees, both current and past. Look out for the length of tenure as this will give you an idea of the level of attrition. More importantly, this will give you an idea of where the company is hiring from and losing talents to.

The grass is greener on the other side, because …

You’re standing in the shade my friend!

As much as it is exciting to think about that new opportunity, don’t get carried away with the unknown. A lot of people I know took the plunge and ended up regretting their decision.

As many of us get into the momentum of work in our current organization, we often find it hard to expand and take on a larger portfolio or try something new. Thus, that created the illusion that career development opportunities are absent in our own organizations.

Is this the fault of the company or employees? We can argue this both ways. It could be us and our own comfort zones (the shade), or it could be a genuine lack of opportunities.

Always take a step back and evaluate your current company alongside the new opportunity. Look at the “Employer Value Proposition” – EVP (I’ll probably do a separate blog article at a later date on this).

Candidates want to join organization that present a strong value proposition. Some basic factors to consider are:

  • Company’s branding and market position
  • Developmental opportunities
  • Total Rewards – Compensation and benefits
  • Culture

So, don’t get too excited about the new opportunity and take care in evaluating the options.

Last but not least, do share your thoughts about any other tips we should keep in mind when approaching that new opportunity!

Happy interviewing and best of luck in 2015!

Cheers

Eric

Eric Wong is Head of Talent Acquisition & Development (APAC) at Polycom, and blogs about how video collaboration can benefit the HR function on Polycom’s “The View from APAC”. Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter@ErickyWong.