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Do Your Job Candidates Possess the “X-Factor”? Don’t Dismiss That Feeling in your Gut!

A colleague friend and I grabbed a bite for lunch today. Our conversation, as usual, turned to the trials and tribulations of hiring in today’s job market. We shared war stories, funny anecdotes and pondered some of the more philosophical questions surrounding the search process.

And we talked about one of our favorite TV shows, “The X Factor.”

Last night’s episode was a shocker! An amazingly talented contestant, Melanie Amaro was unbelievably released from the competition. Soon afterward, a sorrowful Simon Cowell said he had a feeling in his “gut” that he made a mistake and asked her to return to the show just a few hours later. This got us wondering: what is the value of evaluating candidates based on “gut feelings”?

My lunch date told me of a recent situation; a candidate who looked great “on paper” was given a commonly-used test to evaluate his personality profile. He passed with flying colors. However, during face to face interviews with the candidate, my friend got a “gut feeling” that something was just not right. She voiced her concern but was overruled by the hiring team. The candidate was hired for the position … he only lasted a few months on the job.

 According to recent research by authors Geoff Smart and Randy Street, “The average hiring mistake costs fifteen times an employee’s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss.” That being said, a candidate evaluation process MUST take into account both the tangibles and intangibles when making reliable employee selections.  Surely Simon Cowell would agree.

Decision-makers can measure a candidate’s compatibility based on personality profiles, aptitude tests, psychological evaluations, observations of past performances, educational accomplishments, years of experience and the like. This is the SCIENCE of recruiting. However, this is not enough.

There is also an ART to hiring right!

Evaluating social skills, personal ethics, and management styles is best accomplished by several, one-on-one conversation. The interviews should go far beyond examining factual data — listen closely for inconsistencies, watch for body language, evaluate eye contact, voice and energy level, and enthusiasm. Perhaps most importantly, interviewers need to trust their “gut”  to gauge the “fit”; exceptional skills and experience aside, if a candidate does not have the right persona for the corporate culture, the recruit is doomed for failure. This is where an experienced talent acquisition professional adds value to your search.

Like Simon Cowell, the very best recruiters have an “eye” for talent and success. They can recognize that “gut feeling” and verbalize their intangible concerns. Please weigh in on this subject; we’d love to know your point of view.

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