Looking Past a Candidate’s Résumé to Find the ‘Real Employee’

Over the last few posts, HR Daily Advisor Editor, Jim Davis sat down with RecruitCon 2019 keynote speaker, Jeff Hyman, to discuss the world of recruiting. Hyman touched upon key predictors to look for in an applicant and how the world of recruiting has changed. In yesterday’s post, Hyman explained how the old, arrogant approach to recruiting no longer works, and how you should be mindful about the reviews that are being left on websites, like Glassdoor. In this final post, Davis and Hyman will discuss how recruiters and hiring managers can look past a résumé to find the perfect employee and how you can find “a needle in the haystack.”


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Hyman is the Chief Talent Officer at Recruit Rockstars, an organization with a simple mission: no more bad hires! He is also author of the bestselling book Recruit Rockstars: The 10 Step Playbook to Find The Winners & Ignite Your Business. As Professor at Kellogg School of Management, he teaches an MBA course about recruiting. He is also the host of the 5-star-rated Strong Suit Podcast and weekly contributor to Forbes.
Jeff Hyman is the keynote speaker at RecruitCon 2019. Join Hyman for the opening keynote: The 10 Deadly Sins of Recruiting, which takes place May 8-10, 2019, in Austin, Texas. RecruitCon features workshops on May 8 , while the main conference will be held on May 9 and 10. Click here to learn more, or to register today!
Davis: If you say one wrong thing on a résumé, no one will hire you, but you might be the best employee out there.
Hyman: A great candidate or a great interview is not necessarily a great employee. It’s not—it doesn’t indicate the perfect person is ideal for that role, for that situation. Your job, if you’re in HR, if you’re in recruiting, if you’re a hiring manager, is to see through the candidate to the real person underneath.
That means doing things differently. That means not trying to scare the candidate but rather putting him or her at ease so that in an interview, you actually get to the authentic person underneath as opposed to making him or her sweat it out.
Then you’re getting a false person; you’re getting the candidate. Then the candidate shows up on day 1, and you’re surprised that he or she is not who you thought. It’s because you didn’t see the real person—you saw the candidate version of the person.
Davis: I’m sure that you’ll get more into the details of this at your session at RecruitCon. How do people get there? Let’s say you have 500 candidates. Can you even talk to them all? How can you get there without talking to them, or is that even possible?
Hyman: So how do you find the needle in the haystack?
Davis: Yeah.
Hyman: So no, you can’t talk to 500 people. It’s mathematically impossible because if you’re going to do this the right way, let’s start from the bottom of the funnel and work our way up, which is how you should do it.
To do this the right way, you genuinely need to invest a good amount of time with that finalist or those semifinalists to feel confident and comfortable that you’ve made the right decision and, by the way, to make them feel the same way. So that’s the selling part.
So all that means that you need to fairly swiftly decide who you’re going to invest that time with, right? Even in my book, and at my presentation, I’ll go through this what the funnel looks like, that I’ve found over 25 years is very consistent.
That means getting down to 20 people who are kind of semifinalists and narrowing that down to 5 to 6 pretty quickly, then investing an inordinate amount of time with those 5, getting to know them thoroughly so that I can prevent false negatives or false positives. That means being prepared. It means knowing what questions to ask. It means having the right number of interviewers, which is not 8 or 10 or 15, like some companies.
It means having the scorecard in advance so we know what it is we’re looking for so when we find it, we’re able to move. Most people don’t even have a scorecard, so they say, “I’ll know it when I see it.” Well, so then you’re attempting to just kiss all these frogs.
The process drags on forever, and by the time you do like candidate number 80, you’ve lost candidate number 2 because he or she got 3 other offers. So, this totally can be done, but it does require a different mind-set, and I’ll certainly talk about that at the session.
Davis: Well, you know, we’ve come to the part where, let’s say we have these people who are listening, and they’re convinced, and they know they need to make a change, and then they have to bring that change to the CEO. People have talked forever about how you get the CEO to focus on talent. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Hyman:  My answer is probably not one that’s going to be very popular, but I’ll tell you anyway. If, as an HR executive or HR leader, or even if you’re not an executive, but you’re kind of more of a mid-level HR manager, if you’re a CEO, and by CEO, I kind of mean your top team doesn’t yet understand that talent is number one, two, and three in building the business. I don’t care what kind of business it is, what industry, size, function, or geography. If they don’t understand that by now, you really have to wonder, are they ever going to get it?
If the answer to that question is “I don’t know”—like, “He just doesn’t seem to care about people. He puts the product first”; “She puts the financial results first” or whatever; or “They put the board first, and they’re good at managing up but don’t really care about managing and leading down”—then you got a difficult decision to make.
Frankly, I think the decision is, should I be at this company, right? Literally, “Is Jim wasting his time, and should he be at a different organization where people do come first?” Now, I’m not saying you should up and quit tomorrow, but I will say that this is not 1970. There are enough data; there’s enough evidence. We’re in the tightest labor market in 50 years, and if a leader, a CEO, or board management teams don’t get it by now, you got to start to wonder if they are ever going to get it.
That means deciding if you want to continue to invest the best years of your career at an organization like that. You don’t look at what it says or what it does. Does talent have a seat at the top table? Does it report directly to the CEO? Is he or she spending his or her time on it? Is he or she interviewing candidates?
A CEO or a leader should be spending half of his or her time on this stuff as opposed to it being an afterthought. And so, you can just look at the evidence, right? Now, before you make the decision to leave and vote with your feet, you can have that discussion. Educate the CEO. Maybe if he or she is a first-time CEO and a 25-year-old founder, he or she doesn’t know. And so, give him or her a shot, or give him or her a chance.
Educate the individual on data, like we’ve talked about in this discussion. Show him or her the difference between A-players and B-players. He or she may just not know. See if he or she is open to being coached.
You almost have to mentor the CEO when it comes to talent and earn your place as his or her consigliere, his or her adviser. If the person isn’t open to that, then you might just be wasting time.
Davis:  That’s a hard truth, but I think it’s one that people need to hear. So I really appreciate you being direct with me about that. Well, I think that should about do it. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.
Hyman: It’s my pleasure. I’m really looking forward to the event. I’ve already spoken with a bunch of attendees. It’s going to be well attended and terrific. So thank you so much for having me.
Davis: Yeah, absolutely. Just a reminder to our listeners that the event we are talking about is RecruitCon 2019. It’s taking place May 8-10 down in Austin, Texas. We have workshops on the 8th, and the main conferences will be on May 9th and 10th.
On May 9, Jeff will be presenting the opening keynote: The 10 Deadly Sins of Recruiting. I really hope everyone can join us. It’s going to be a great event.
Listen to the full episode, here.