Hiring the Right Candidate – The Art of Choosing

Choice begins when a requirement meets the options. It’s a state where every option is weighed in view of the values to which an individual is aligned. This sparks the process of decision making. There is a discussion in CiteHR, which involves how the principles as shared in the ‘Art of Choosing’ can be executed to select the right candidate. The question raised in the discussion is shared below:

Do you always wonder why it is so difficult to select right candidate? Why some candidates selected by the HR or the Manager fail to deliver at work? How does our knowledge of psychometric tests and every other initiative fail to help us in making the right decisions?

It is all about ‘The Art of Choosing’- the art of making the right choice.
HR is often puzzled by the plethora of resumes, Gooble-de-Gook of degrees, competencies and skills.
With all our HR degrees and learnings on recruitment, we also need a very important knowledge and that is the art of making the right choice from a heap of similar looking resources – which is not taught in any college, school or management board room.
One recent book that I read is ‘The Art of Choosing’ by Sheena Iyengar. This book unlocks many mysteries of why sometimes we make right choices or make incorrect choices. She uses day to day examples and teaches how people go wrong or right. How too many choices or too few choices lead to a wrong selection.

As mentioned by the member, this book shares few main principles as shared below:

  • Choices depend on several factors. If they are identified, it helps to make a choice.
  • The more choices we have, the more confused we get.
  • Meaning is as important as choice

I have some experience in hiring which delves deeper into this art of choosing. Here I share few of the situations which I came across during a Talent Acquisition process:

  • “Best is yet to come”–  Choices are not made in the order they are served. But sometimes in the reverse order. In my experience, usually, we used to screen resumes and arrange the first few rounds with the written test and initial identification of the  interest level in the candidate. Once they had cleared these initial rounds, they would be scheduled for the technical rounds. Here, the technical managers would prefer to interview a larger number of candidates till the closing date came closer. Most of the candidates, who were interviewed early in this process, would be put-on-hold. A belief that the best is yet to come would continue to prolong the process. In the end, a student’s syndrome would impact and a closure would be made.
  • Identifying trigger is archetypal– Fewer options paces decision making. Here’s another experience which made me realise that adhering to the group is not always a trigger in decision making. It often works the other way round.  One role required the talent to be certified on PHP and SQL. Certified candidates would be screened from the job portals. Each time interviews were arranged every candidate would get rejected. When an after-action-review was done, the reason confirmed that the candidates were being rejected as they knew many more skill sets along with PHP and SQL. Any standard IT Course generally covers every area. Hence a basic level certification would include every skill set. The technical team predicted a lower employee life cycle with such widely-skilled talents. Once this was detected, it narrowed the funnel and few candidates who have either been working in that role or primarily trained in PHP were considered. Once this was carried out, it allowed the talent acquisition team to hire and close the role.
  • Choices at times need to be expanded in order to fill the demand – Another experience taught me , fewer option may not be the right way to a decision making depending on the requirements. A large multinational was supposed to grow at a fast pace. The job requirement reflected a threshold of capabilities. The company had earlier hired engineers from Tier-I colleges. But the rate of growth required a larger talent base. This led to the redesigning of jobs so that students from different locations and streams could be hired.
  • Reference to the context – We make decisions on the basis of ‘now’. This is what I learnt, while managing compensation to attract new talent. Compensation is one area which attributes the decision making in a talent, while considering a new job. Here choice plays a major role. Few companies have a policy of offering a kitty amount rather than a fixed compensation plan. This system is often called, the ‘cafeteria plan’ arrangement for employees. It is often used as a benefit to attract talents from companies that have a fixed compensation plan. Here, the talent is empowered to decide what should be the take home within the fixed budget. Such as opting for a Sodexho which lessens the tax burden. Furthermore, an employee can choose a greater take-home than opting for additional deductions in Medicalim, EPF and other schemes offered by the company. This would bring in a higher monthly take-home salary. But the marginal savings of tax would be given a miss. At the end of a financial year, it may add to the employee’s woes with a higher tax burden and ultimately craft dissatisfaction. Whereas a fixed compensation plan is often seen as a limitation by the employees who may want to manage their own finances. Yet an employee, whose take-home doesn’t impact from the flexible compensation plan, will stay insulated from it. The only resolution that worked was extensive knowledge sharing from a neutral point of view. We used to share the exact amount the talent would draw with or without the flexible compensation plan.
  • Decision making and hiring – We had the best processes to ensure we measure the capability and potential along with the knowledge of the candidate. Yet there were situations where verbal and non-verbal cues were used in decision making. Sub-modalities, rate of speech, acknowledging the former employers, resistance identified during the conversations, attitude towards the interviewer, and many such unspoken attributes were used for decision making. The keyword being used by the talent with the time dimension used to make the interviewers think differently for the talent. A sales candidate was once rejected as he lacked confidence. He had a proven track record. Yet another, candidate who knew how to make an impact was offered the role. The latter one performed satisfactorily and barely met the target whereas the other one who was rejected did brilliantly with a competitor. In another case, a candidate was rejected. The reason was attitudinal. The video recording of the interview, showed the candidate spoke at a very fast pace. He had a lot of vision, hence was tagged instable, who is likely to change jobs at a faster pace. Consequently, this candidate continued working in the existing role for a much longer duration than predicted. One of my seniors was deeply into intuitive hiring. He could easily identify the behavioural patterns and rightly predict the career path of the talent. He used to write a rough employee cycle in the comment section. There was not a single case that did not turn up the way he guessed. He used to identify the gaps in the presentation of an interviewee. The self-concept was detected to find an alignment with the organizational goals. This made him confident about the talent’s employment within the company.

In ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ Malcolm Galdwell had written how the coach hires a talent. The sport discussed in this article is soccer. It centres around how our biases and preferences work while making a career decision for someone. This article takes a complete journey from selecting to a major match where the talent behaves differently than what was predicted by the coach. Malcolm puts it as “A prediction, in a field where prediction is not possible, is no more than a prejudice.”

During the hiring process, a long term decision is made on the basis of a short term interaction. The cues and the keywords that are benchmarked by the interviewer remains the trigger for decision making. Hence the process needs to be made subjective. This tacit knowledge is gained from the existing environment, which the interviewer is associated with. Though this understanding remains coherent to the environment, yet every human being is unique. This brings in a scope for defect in this process.

This brings us a full circle to Dr. Iyengar’s view that “Choice and meaning are intertwined. We use choice to define our identities, and our choices are determined by the meanings we give them, from advertising-driven associations to personal relationships and philosophical commitments. We can articulate some meanings, while others remain beyond words.”

Tell us your experiences while making a choice in Talent Acquisition

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