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Why dressing Ducks up as Geese just doesn’t work when it comes to Hiring

Finding the right person for the job that needs to be done is always a better business strategy than building a job around a person and then hoping for the best. It’s easier to do than you think!

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
Three geese behind fence on the farm

On a recent flight, I happened to read an interview with Jack Cowin, the founder of Hungry Jack’s. Now, while I don’t patronise his stores, the man himself is an interesting chap. Driven, ambitious, intellectually curious and above all, a master of recognising talent in people and nurturing it.

When asked what his great secret was, he didn’t say “a good hamburger recipe”.

His response was, “I can hire lawyers, I can hire accountants and I can hire people who have the skills to be able to do distinct jobs. But the greatest ability for running any business is the people side – making sure you choose the right people and then create a climate that staff can work and prosper in.

I couldn’t agree more. In my 30 years in Recruitment and HR consulting, I have always believed that our job was to not only find the person who could do the job but the person who would thrive in the job and contribute to our client’s organisation in a truly meaningful way for years to come.

But how do you do this?

Truly understand the culture of the company – warts and all

Too often we dress ducks up as geese when it comes to talking about our company culture. What is communicated to others (or the blurb the marketing consultant has come up with) and the truth often have no relationship. If you are a company that values hard work, be honest about that. If you prefer that people don’t work from home, say that. If you want people to participate in company social events, then be open about that. Don’t pretend you’re something you are not. Transparency is the harbinger of integrity and people like integrity. Having said that, being a company that no one wants to work at because it sounds too unpleasant isn’t a good plan either!

Truly understand the person you are interviewing – give bias the kick!

Ducks being dressed up as geese happens a lot on the other side of the hiring equation too. But it’s usually because the recruiter or hiring manager employs good old-fashioned bias to their assessments rather than asking the right questions to get the information they need to make the right decision. Ask probing questions, ask the candidate to give examples, ask them to share their triumphs and failures with you.

Do reference checks – find out how they’ve behaved in the past

The best way to understand how someone is likely to behave in certain situations is to find out how they’ve handled themselves in the past. Reference checks, and I mean good reference checks (not the lazy “how many sick days did they have” type of reference check), can tell us a lot about the person we are evaluating. How did they get along with others? How did they go about solving problems? How did they engage with new initiatives? Did they hold themselves personally accountable for their job? You know, the sort of things we really want to know about.

Use science to help – if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck

While you can often tell where someone’s going by where they’ve been, Psychometric testing helps us predict future behaviour. The good news is that psychometric assessments are now both very accessible and very affordable and there are hundreds of different assessments you can use. One of our favourites is JobFit, which not only measures things you expect, like crystal and verbal reasoning, but looks at how well the person works in a team, how they solve problems, how they are likely to react in a crisis and so on. And it’s all online – doesn’t get much easier! And with a reliability rating of .82 it is all you need to confirm your recommendation if the information echoes your interview notes and the referee comments.

It’s not that difficult

Finding the best person for your business isn’t as difficult as you think. You just need to see the difference between a duck and a goose.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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