Have you ever come across ideas that radically change all the things you’ve thought you were doing right? Lou Adler’s Hire With Your Head did that for me early in my career. A long-time recruiter with two bestselling hiring guides under his belt - one for the hirers and one for the hirees - Adler has been teaching workshops on his hiring methods for more than two decades, improving the processes of more than 40,000 recruiters. He is most famously known for his way of rewriting Job Descriptions in the form of Performance Profiles.
In Hire With Your Head, Adler describes a repeatable scenario in which the most suitable person for a position is beaten out by the candidate with the best presentation and interview skills. This makes us wonder. Is your best candidate the HBS grad looking to upgrade after an unsuccessful run at a hot new upstart? Or could it be a college dropout with the most amazing portfolio you’ve ever seen. (Fun fact, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Jobs all were college dropouts!) Indicators for success aren’t the candidate who carries themselves the same as you, wears a power color, or speaks on your level - those are social distractions that distract from solid substance. At Talented Recruiting, of course we fully learn your culture and aim to present candidates who match up. We also measure drive and tenacity and uncover experiences and skills that make even tighter fits under the surface. Where did the candidate start versus where they are now, and was that by being handed every tool possible or was it through their own self-motivation, hard work and determination? What is their vision and how do they demonstrate leadership?
Adler describes snap judgements hiring managers make and warns against them. Some interviewers appreciate an affable chatty candidate who easily asks questions. They ignore negatives and overestimate strengths, making a sales pitch instead of evaluating competency - all because they “clicked” with someone.
Funny enough, research shows there isn’t a correlation between interview skills and on-the-job performance. A candidate’s nervousness, which may lead to poor eye contact, lack of composure, and rather unimpressive answers, affects first impression. Unfortunately this performance anxiety might just be the deal breaker in terms of landing a dream job! You want to see confidence in your candidates but the truth is that confidence isn’t always the right indicator. The interview is to collect more information. Adler says the biggest secret to success in hiring is to avoid our natural judgment tendencies and refuse to make a hiring decision within the first thirty minutes of an interview.
To get started on hiring with YOUR head, the first step is to rewrite the job description so that it describes the projects and work that needs to be done, instead of a laundry list of skills gathered from multiple job postings on the internet. (I see you out there!) The interview should be designed to map the candidate’s experiences and to show challenges and successes. Adler admonishes hiring partners to put personal feelings aside when analyzing, and RESIST MAKING A JUDGEMENT FOR 30 MINUTES. I have tried this method out myself - it works!
If you like what Adler has to say in Hire With Your Head, follow him on LinkedIn, where he posts a few times a month with articles for job seekers and hiring managers alike. He’s one of our favorite resources!