How does a leader pick the right person when all candidates appear to be equally qualified?
This is a common question posed to leaders; but it’s one that has no answer.
The question is flawed; it’s based on an incorrect assumption.
No two individuals are “equally qualified”; no two people possess identical capabilities in terms of creating value for the organization.
The question assumes identical academic achievements in the same discipline (never happens); equal experience (never happens), equal skills (never happens) and equal potential (never happens).
If a leader can’t choose because they are unable to see the the differences in individuals, they’re failing in their role. If they do not have the insight necessary to break down common stereotypes in people, they are unlikely to be able to develop amazingly successful teams.
For those leaders who have difficulty seeing the differences in people these are the necessary actions to take.
1. Let yourself go. You are likely to make bad people decisions and rob your organization of growth value. Own up to your deficiency and leave.
2. Ask better questions of the candidates, questions that probe their DNA. If they have a history of Greek dancing ask why it matters and how they would apply the skill to the position they are applying for.
You can’t discover differences if you don’t probe how their skills and experience could be transferred to your organization.
3. Insist that they ask you the top 3 questions on their mind as a candidate. This will not only tell you what they think is important, it will also help in developing an attribute profile on each of them. In addition their questions will provide fuel for follow up questions to expose more what makes them tick.
4. Test their understanding of your company. Ask tough questions on your products and services, main competitors, strategic partnerships and financial performance to see if they have done their homework.
Truly committed candidates will expose themselves.
5. Ask them “If you were to be hit by a bus and killed (heaven forbid) what would you be remembered for?” – one word answer. What THEY think is their redeeming value is critical information to your organization in terms of the recruiting attributes being targeted.
6. Have more than one person engaged in the interview. It could be a peer but it could also be a high potential junior level manager who would gain from the experience of sitting in. Another perspective on the candidate is useful; questions from others produce different insights on individuals.
7. Ask them what they learned from their Grandmother. Grandmothers have life smarts unmatched by most others and represent an amazing source of mentorship.
Discover what your candidates have learned about life that can be traced back to an old soul who has forgotten more about life than most of us will ever know. These insights will be separating factors that will help select the right person for the job and your company.
Recruiting top talent is an incredibly tough job. Don’t make it even more difficult by assuming any two candidates are equally qualified.
Your job as leader is to discover their differences and select the one whose unique attributes exactly match the needs of the organization.
If you don’t see the inequality between candidates, look closer; dig deeper.