How Do You Recruit?

How can I be sure that the person I am interviewing fits the position I am hiring for? A clear function description is necessary, but far from sufficient. What I really want to know is how my passion resonates with that of the candidate. I call it “Viral Interviewing”.

Heroes or Zeros?

I have found that the predictive validity of my interviewing skills and the list of smart and astute questions I ask is not that reassuring. Being aware of psychometric elements like the halo effect, STAR questionaires, etc. does not make the job any easier. It just leaves me feeling a bit more guilty (‘I should have known better’)

I have come across candidates that I hired just because “we need somebody yesterday“; zero confidence that they could get the job done; etc… and they turn out to be the best performers! On the other hand – and admittedly more frequent – I have recruited people with high expectations, a bright CV, outstanding answers, etc. and they turn out to be complete zero’s.
You are the one in the room

Dungeon of Doubts

On other occasions I have recruited people whilst heavily investing in a headhunter and a recruiter, just to see the new hire leave after 6 months, along with tons of education (note: I live in Belgium, where you are in no way insured against that phenomenon). As a result I feel a even more guilty (‘I should have managed better‘).

Most interviewers get more proficient as they gain experience. But for me the opposite is true: through the years I have built up a dungeon of doubts, with many chambers:

Meet Eddy

So I kept on wondering ‘How do other people recruit?‘. Until one day I met Eddy, the owner of a homecare nursery. He employs about 30 nurses. As you can guess, nursing is a profession that requires quite some professional vocation. The jobs is tough, the pay is low, the working schedules are irregular, time pressure is high and not all patients are friendly people. In short: if you’re not made for this job, you’re not gonna make it through a single working week.

Eddy told me that he had a particular way of recruiting. In fact, it was not even like recruiting at allit was beaming passion.

  • Each time he would invite candidates based on the same criteria as I did: a selection of the CV’s according to the job description. So far so good;
  • The next thing he did when he invited the candidates was quite surprising.  He started to talk… sometimes for more than one hour. About his passion for nursing; About where he thinks the heart and soul of good nursing lies; About the results of their work, rather than the list of tasks. About the quality he is entitled to as a patient when he gets old and helpless.
  • He asks zero questions.
  • Next, he invites the candidate for a second conversation a few days later. That is when the real selection happens, because a lot of people call their office before the second interview in order to cancel the second meeting.
  • Those that do show up are the ones that resonate with the story and the passions of the founder.
  • As it turns out, these nurses are committed and perform above expectations.

Note that Eddy is an empowering manager, trusting people to an extreme extent. And this pays, as they are known for being the ‘home care nurses that care more‘.

Wow… passion and excellence woven into what I would call ‘viral interviewing‘.

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  • Jutta

    finally somebody who also promotes roles in an organisation instead of all kind of (not so much to the point) job descriptions which for some kind of reason tend to copulate and create even more job descriptions till five yrs later you end up with hundreds of job descriptions. Start with the (business)result in mind (not a result of a task), what was it that needed to be done, and let the person decide how.
    I’ve even thought (not executed though) of a color system instead of functions. You either are red (frontline such as sales), blue (management, what else?) or purple (staff)….okay admitted, this idea hasnt really been thought through, but its a start to think outside of the box

  • Thanks Jutta – I think your color system deserves to be refined, because we desperately need innovation in this domain.