This originally appeared on LinkedIn. You can follow Lou Adler here
The number one reason not to hire someone who has all of the skills is lack of motivation to do the actual work required.
However, motivation to do the actual work isn’t easy to measure during the course of the traditional interview for three big reasons. First, the actual work is rarely defined in enough detail, and most people won’t be fully committed unless they find the bulk of the actual work appealing. For example, system architects aren’t going to be too excited to perform detailed coding if they thought the job involved more complex work. That’s why clarifying expectations before the hire is so important. Second, many interviewers assume motivation to get a job and extraversion are predictors of motivation to do the job (of course, they’re not), therefore they think they can skip the part about figuring out actual job needs. Third, there are a number of other factors that have been shown to affect motivation and on-the-job performance that are generally ignored or superficially assessed. These include team skills, problem-solving, the coaching style of the manager, and cultural fit, among others.
By ignoring these factors managers frequently hire people who are competent to do the work, but not motivated by it. Worse, they don’t hire people who are a bit off on the skills, but highly capable people. Here are some techniques you can use to minimize these problems as part of the fact-finding when using The Most Important Interview Question of All Time.
How to Avoid Common Hiring Mistakes
From what I’ve seen, after participating in thousands of interviews and debriefing sessions, is that there is too much emphasis during the typical interview on technical competency, personality, first impressions and presentation. Little of this predicts on-the-job performance or job satisfaction. It’s pretty easy in a 45-60 minute interview to tell if someone clearly won’t make the team, or if the person has the potential to be a star. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of great people in the far larger middle group who aren’t hired, but should have been, and many competent, but unmotivated people, who are. Taking this extra steps above in the next 45-60 minutes is how you make sure the right person is hired—one who is both competent and motivated.
Now for a radical idea to address this problem head-on. What about measuring technical competency last, or at least minimizing it’s importance, rather than using it as up-front filter? This would open up the door to more high potential diverse candidates, returning military veterans, younger people who want to launch their careers, and those more seasoned people looking for more than just another job. Of course, this would mean rewriting job descriptions, redesigning the application and assessment process, and incorporating fast-track training programs into every job. But consider the impact: hiring more highly motivated, high potential people of diverse backgrounds with fewer technical skills, who are able to rapidly learn and grow. Now that just might be a hiring mistake worth making.
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