I Need to Stop Picking Boogers

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Truth be told, when I was a kid, I would occasionally pick my nose. I bet you find that both shocking and abhorrent. It gets worse. When my dad would catch me with one of my phalanges flying up a nostril, rather than chastise me, he would simply look my way and say, “pick a winner.” Oddly, and I am at a loss as to why this little story came to mind when I was thinking of the challenge of finding good people to bring into an organization. Hiring managers root around using the latest interview techniques, assessments, background checks and the like to pick winners. But, no matter how many tools are brought to bear, they still wind up with their fair share of boogers.

When my dad would catch me with one of my phalanges flying up a nostril, rather than chastise me, he would simply look my way and say, “pick a winner.”

So how do you stop picking boogers? I am not sure that there is a simple answer or a panacea. I do know that “fit” is a huge factor. There have been a lot of wonderful scholarly articles written on the subject. But, since I have already referenced nose picking and boogers, this is obviously not one of them. My informality, however, does help to illustrate the point I am hoping to make. Which is that at some point, you need to trust your gut. Feel and intuition both still play a big role in making good hiring decisions. I worry that we have lessened our reliance on both in deference to the latest tools, tests and apps.

Feel and intuition both still play a big role in making good hiring decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in many of these new tools and assessment techniques. I just don’t see them as the only answer. I am convinced that they become far more effective when used in concert with feel and intuition. I actually have a systematic approach to using feel and intuition in the hiring process. Yes, I am aware that sounds counterintuitive, a systematic approach to gut feel.

I am convinced that they become far more effective when used in concert with feel and intuition.

Ready? It is pretty simple. You have good “people people” in your organization. You know the ones; these are the folks who just seem to be able to read others well. Grab a few of them. Next, find your favorite contrarian or resident curmudgeon. This is that individual who always tells you that every new idea, or for that matter new hire, is going to fail. Now, you have your interview panel. Next, develop a set of questions that focuses on fit and temperament. Questions such as; “Tell me about the last time you got mad at someone at work”? Or,” Tell me about a time that you knew you were right, but still had to follow a specific plan?”.

Find your favorite contrarian or resident curmudgeon. This is that individual who always tells you that every new idea, or for that matter new hire, is going to fail.

Your candidate will then meet with your panel and be asked the questions. Panelist will rate the response to each on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being unfavorable and 5 favorable. Next, let each candidate know that the interview process is a reciprocal one, and they should be prepared with questions to ask each of the interview panel members. You can learn a lot about a person from the quality of questions they ask.

When the interviews are complete, pull your team together. Your good “people, people” should have all rated candidates similarly. Good prospects should have average ratings in the 4-5 range. Your contrarian or resident curmudgeon should be convinced that you have picked another booger. The candidate’s questions should be about how to make an impact or what the team needs from the role in question, and not about how much personal time off is given or happy hours that are attended. Take these findings and merge them with those you received from your latest tools, assessments, and apps. If they align then maybe, just maybe, you have picked a winner.

Your contrarian or resident curmudgeon should be convinced that you have picked another booger.

Regardless of what is done, you are still going to pick a booger or two. Sometimes people are just great performers in an interview and poor performers at their job. The key is to flick that booger off and keep on hunting. Here’s hoping you pick some winners.

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Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group. He works to grow businesses and business leaders. He helps organizations tell their stories and build relationships with their customers. He helps leaders better connect and communicate with those whom they lead, and serves as a thinking partner to executives and their teams.

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