Elevating Your Hiring to New Heights
Elon Musk tweeted out at the beginning of this year that Tesla is hiring for the Artificial Intelligence department and that a degree was not mandatory. We're getting more and more used to news like this. Companies worldwide are acknowledging that a degree is a poor predictor of how well the person will perform, adapt and contribute to the culture of an organization. Google, Apple, and IBM are just a few examples of companies that ditched the college degree requirement and opted for something else.
So, when it comes to hiring, what can we focus on instead?
Isn’t it one of the first things that come to mind? If you want to get the right candidate for a particular role, hiring for the particular skills to get the job done seems only logical and an intelligent move. And in certain cases, for certain roles, that certainly might be a part of the equation, but not the whole picture. Why? Because skills are something we can all learn, develop and master with time, dedication and most importantly the right kind of mindset. This leads us to another point to take into consideration when hiring.
Mindset & Personality
Whichever skillset a person has is limited because in today’s world continuing education and lifelong learning is a must in any field and in any role. A growth mindset orientation is one of the most valuable assets to look for when hiring. It’s what enables people to perceive obstacles as workable challenges, to be inspired to learn and collaborate with other people, to persist and play the long-run game of improving a little bit each day, to be willing to openly acknowledge and work on weaknesses and to receive feedback as a way to improve. If you want to spot whether or not someone has a growth mindset ask them about their failures and challenges. If they disclose openly about past mistakes and can give examples of how they used them to keep growing, you’re on to something.
Have you heard of that expression “you don’t have to like someone to work with them”? We thoroughly disagree. Sure it’s possible to work with people whom you wouldn’t relate to outside of the professional setting, however, since we spend most of our awake time at work, the more fulfilling professional relationships we have the more likely we are to be engaged, motivated and inspired to bring our best selves to the office each day. Gallup’s 30 years of research on employee engagement revealed a link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their jobs. So when you’re hiring, ask yourself if the person seems like someone you’d be friends with, if it’s someone you enjoy talking and hanging out with and make an effort to get to know who they are as a person, not just a potential co-worker.
Another thing you want to keep your eye on is values. Values are the reason why we do what we do. It’s what defines and sets the company apart from others, informing decision making processes and the way people conduct themselves daily. In our company, we value people who are curious, intense, genuine and believers, so when we’re hiring we look for those traits in people and know that if they match a few or most of them they’ll probably enjoy working with us and much as we do.
In order to hire for values, you need to be very clear on what those values are, and you need to understand how those values translate to specific behaviors. As I said curiosity is one of our core values, so most likely the people who work for us or who would be great candidates are prone to asking a lot of questions, to be genuinely interested in other people, to have multiple areas of interest and to demonstrate fewer judgmental behaviors.
Having clarity on the types of behaviors that demonstrate your values helps design your interviews, potential exercises and role-plays you could do to screen for those qualities in a candidate. And hiring people with the same kind of values puts you on track for maintaining your culture, while adding diversity to the mix.
Last but definitely not least, assessing whether or not the person will fit into the culture is of extreme importance. The company’s culture is the set of values, norms, assumptions, rituals, and habits that inform how people go about managing their days and responsibilities.
A study by Cubiks shows that nine in ten recruiters have dismissed candidates for lack of culture fit, and 84% of recruiters interviewed reported culture as a significant element to the hiring process.
A healthy culture, a culture of trust, collaboration, curiosity, and integrity is one of the greatest assets of an organization, one that needs to be tended to and cherished consistently. It’s fertile soil for engagement, for solution-driven behaviors, for better communication, enhanced creativity, and innovation. An above-average collaborator with an extraordinary performance might be of little use if he consistently bullies and undermines trust in his team. And an average-performance collaborator that systematically shows up for his teammates, that goes above and beyond for his customers, that is admired and loved by everyone in the office, represents a long-term benefit for the organization. Of course, they’re not mutually exclusive conditions, a high performer can be a great fit for your culture. Know what matters most in your case and screen accordingly.
Wrapping it Up
With all that being said, in some careers and areas, a degree is still an important requirement and a useful element of the hiring process. You wouldn’t go see a doctor, or a psychologist or a lawyer that didn’t complete their studies. However, even in those cases, a degree is not enough. What makes someone stand out from their peers is often a combination of both technical knowledge, and skills such as empathy, generosity, emotional intelligence, commitment, and integrity. So you’ll need different criteria for different roles and positions, but considering these elements as you’re looking to bring someone new aboard can only help you elevate your hiring to new heights.