The Human Perspective in Hiring

July 31, 2012 by Wally Bock

Josh Tolan sure knows how to write a headline that piques your curiosity:”Caveman Can Do it: Hiring Lessons From Our Ancient Ancestors.” Here’s the opening of the post.

“When you think of a group of people with good recruiting practices, it’s likely your mind doesn’t go back to prehistoric times. Most cavemen probably did not draw stick figure resumes of their past hunting and gathering experience. Cavemen didn’t sit down for formal interviews to see how qualified a new member was to join the tribe. Sure, there was no video interviewing or talk of ROI back then, but there are still plenty of things we can learn from our elders.”

Today’s world can seem like it’s all about technology. There are hiring algorithms and automated processes and smartphone apps and technology of every kind. At the same, time many companies are looking for ways to make hiring more productive without relying on technology quite so much.

It’s not that these companies are against technology. In fact, more often they’re looking for ways to add process that brings in a human perspective. That’s why Google, the Kings of the Algorithm, also use group interviews to get a sense of how well a prospective hire will fit and contribute.

Josh Tolan comes close to that in his second point: “Recognize the importance of teamwork.” But the issue is bigger than that. It’s also about cultural fit and things that you can’t make a good judgment about with tests and interviews alone.

Whole Foods goes a step beyond the group interviews. They require a four week probation, after which the team you work with decides whether or not you stay. I think of it as tribal hiring, though it uses methods that craft guilds used in the Middle Ages. They’re a way to get the answers to two big questions: “Can you do the job?” and “Will we be better with you on the team?”

You can’t answer those questions with tests and interviews alone. You need the kind of perspective and process that human groups have used for thousands of years.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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