The Covid-19 crisis has made hiring managers more discerning. They are now looking for agile and adaptable individuals with, among other things, critical thinking skills. Essentially, employers want candidates who can not only survive in an uncertain business environment, but thrive and take their business to the next level of excellence.
But although the pool of job seekers in certain sectors has expanded since the crisis set in, finding candidates who fit job descriptions to a tee can be challenging. It’s common for a request for applications to attract candidates who seem less-than-perfect at first.
Don’t write them off. Instead, learn how to evaluate them differently. Look for those who can grow and evolve with you.
Here are some steps you can take to separate the non-starters from those with potential.
1. Let Data Inform your Decisions
Assess the people within your company who are in a job similar to the role you’re trying to fill. Then look more closely at the top five performers. What characteristics do they have in common? This exercise will yield the basic requirements to excel in the role. Does the candidate possess these characteristics? Even if the candidate lacks the hard skills you deem necessary for the job, consider that certain aspects of their character could help them overcome the skills gap.
2. Gauge their Capacity for Learning
Knowledge can be acquired and skills can be learnt. Let’s face it, even if a candidate has all the necessary hard skills today, the requirements of their job could change in a few months or years as the business environment changes. The ability to reskill and/or upskill is a necessity.
In order to assess a candidate’s ability to learn, ask them to describe the steps they would take to learn a brand new skill. They shouldn’t be reliant on you to train them. You want proactive individuals who’ll not only sign up for courses on their own, but also cultivate a network from whom they can learn informally.
3. Gauge their Level of Curiosity
Another key success factor is curiosity. In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, author of Growing Great Employees, Erika Andersen said, “Curiosity is what makes us try something until we can do it, or think about something until we understand it.”
Great learners retain this childhood drive and instead of focusing on how hard or uninteresting a subject is, they ask questions.
In order to gauge a person’s level of curiosity, you could introduce a new industry concept to them and observe how they react. Do they ask intelligent questions in an effort to understand it better?
Or you could ask them about a specific situation in which they proactively asked for feedback on their work. Did they take steps to find out more in order to truly understand the feedback? What did they do with the information?
4. Assess their Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is not about likeability alone. Sure, it includes interpersonal skills, but more importantly, good interpersonal skills arise from a healthy sense of self-awareness, rather than friendliness alone. Self-aware individuals know what they don’t know. They also possess a sense of social awareness that allows them to cultivate relationships that will help them and others learn what’s required. This enables them to build mutually fruitful and fulfilling workplace relationships.
Asking candidates questions about what role they see their colleagues playing in their career and vice versa.
5. Conduct “Whiteboard Tests”
“Whiteboard Tests” are popular in Silicon Valley. They are designed to measure problem-solving skills and are traditionally used to measure engineers’ competencies. But they can be applied to candidates in other industries and functions too. Give candidates a problem or a task, and a whiteboard on which they can illustrate the steps they will take to solve a given problem.
6. Ask for Others’ Opinions
Don’t restrict the hiring decision to hiring managers.
Involve the candidate’s potential peers in the assessment process. Those who are already doing the job on a daily basis probably understand it better than hiring managers and can assess the candidate’s potential for success in the role.