Employers who are solely interested in a job candidate’s experience and qualifications are likely making a mistake that could lead them to pass over top talent, Baton Rouge-based human resources consultant Theresa B. Jones says.
Jones is a firm believer that employers should spend their time and energy determining whether a candidate has demonstrated more general qualities and skills — such as emotional intelligence and the ability to work effectively with others — that will help them succeed in any position, and focus less on merely confirming the candidate’s experience and qualifications.
“Asking behavioral-based questions where a candidate responds with how they acted in a particular situation is what employers should strive for,” she says. “Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.”
Jones says her philosophy is heavily informed by organizational leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni and his book “The Ideal Team Player.” “It was a game-changer for my approach to talent — both from a recruiting perspective and a development perspective,” she says.
Here are three questions Jones says she advises her clients to try to answer for any candidate, in any industry, at any experience level.
Jones says she encourages hiring managers to investigate whether the candidate has demonstrated that he or she can put the team before their own immediate interests and motivations. For example, does the candidate check her ego and share credit with teammates? Or does she only emphasize her own contributions?
She says to look for candidates who make it clear that success is not defined by their own efforts and results, but by those of everyone involved.
Despite the modern connotation of the word, finding candidates who are “hungry” does not mean identifying people with unbridled ambition for personal success. “It doesn’t mean that they express to you in the interview that they want to be CEO one day,” Jones says. “It’s really about the day-to-day.”
Rather, Jones says, ask questions that can help you determine whether a candidate looks for more responsibility rather than trying to share the load with others.
“Are they always looking for a way to move things forward — the organization, their position, the team’s efforts — and looking for ways to reach strategic goals?” she says. “Look for someone is going to be looking for more, looking for new challenges and a way to make herself and the organization better.”
This quality is less about book smarts and IQ numbers and more about the ability to intelligently deal with other people and complex situations.
“It’s more emotional intelligence,” Jones says. “Can they really understand a situation, read the situation and know how to react and respond and be thoughtful of others? Is the candidate people-smart and can they read a room, or do they make inappropriate jokes just for the laugh?”
Jones acknowledges that qualities such as emotional intelligence can be difficult to identify in an interview setting, particularly for a manager not well-versed in the hiring process. She says an important step, after asking the right questions, is to sit back and listen closely to the responses.
“Many employers want to talk more in an interview themselves than a candidate,” she says. “They tend to talk a lot and don’t allow the candidate to share, and a lot of times the questions aren’t positioned in a way to talk about actual scenarios. How the candidate frames his or her response is nearly always illuminating.”
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