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Use more intuition during the Recruitment & Selection process

April 18 2012 - The anticipation of customer needs often comes at the first stage in organizations' strategic planning. In itself logical, but when you look at the implementation it is often the case that customer-changes and changes within the organizations environment happen faster than expected. This can result in strategic plans not being up to date.

For organizations it is difficult to cope with all changes and because of that a vigorous and responsive level of staffing is essential. The main issue is to continuously maintain a relation between changing customer needs and the organization. Having employees that can exploit their talents in an optimal way will be the linking pin.

Changes demand movement within organizations, certainly in relation to the development and use of talent. However movement is also related to recruitment and selection of new employees. Are you recruiting employees that fit conventional personnel specifications - solely on the basis of their Curriculum Vitae and your own personal perceptions at interview - or do you have the courage to select people on individual talents that do not fit your own comfort zone and standard job descriptions?

Deviating from convention

Richard van der Lee, Manager Rabobank Retail Clients, author of several HR-related publications and also host of considers that candidate selection can be divided into two main phases. The first phase is the period without direct personal interaction: application forms, letters, video applications, etc. and the inevitable CV or resume. Based on these items, in relation to the standard personnel specification, an image of each candidate emerges. At the same time the first pitfall occurs, for this initial preselection indicates something but reveals little about an applicant's real talent.

An applicant's eligibility for interview is often assessed on the basis of 'cold criteria'. Nowadays, however, your social networks are frequently used at all levels. Possible talents that are not seen directly on the surface at may be found by consulting the Internet for additional information. On sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin you may find a wealth of additional and relevant information about applicants' talents.

But during this stage there is a chance that star qualities are overlooked because they do not match your personal expectations of potential applicants although their talents may provide important added value for your organization. At this point we can ask who initiates the first selection. Is this going to be the person who eventually will be hierarchically responsible for the new applicant or will this be done by HR?

Frequently, from my experience the latter will perform the selection to reduce the business manager's workload. But this can be the next pitfall because HR, in many cases, have insufficient knowledge and feeling for day-to-day business and look for the wrong criteria during selection. The motto should be 'do this together' but take into account that business comes first.

Personal interaction

Van der Lee feels that the second stage of selection or 'phase of personal interaction' is the most fascinating. In my opinion gut-feeling during this stage is not enough. Gut-feeling comes into force when an applicant's verbal or non-verbal responses do not meet a selector's expectations. It is natural for selectors to expect that candidates do not deviate too much from their own patterns, standards and values. This is a separate issue from having the competences described in the personnel profile.

Does this provide the desired value for organization and customer? Big advantages can be realized by emphasizing diversity in teams during selection and therefore looking for complementary talents. These advantages have been described by the Gallup Organization as follows:

Why select for Talent?

  1. Speed: People with talents suited to the role are easier to manage, learn the role more quickly, and adapt more readily to variances in the role.
  2. Productivity and precision: People operating from their greatest talents are more productive, produce at higher quality, and exceed expectations.
  3. Longevity: People operating from their greatest talents stay longer, miss less work, and build stronger customer relationships.

Use the correct instruments

Van der Lee says that "it is best for yourself, the customer, and the organization not to start directly from your own comfort zone during selection. Do not follow the described competencies in the personnel profile slavishly and thus the self-created hindering relating to the ideal picture. Look for diversity and talent, the twinkling in the eyes of the applicant during the interview, continue to ask questions despite your 'gut feeling' and do not just follow the standard list of questions drawn up by HR. When it is least expected during the interview ask the applicant what his/her talents are (not directly related to the function) and follow it with a period of silence. Often surprising answers and views arise here."

The world behind the CV

Madelon Eling and Fabio Antonutti, former General Manager and Business Development Manager respectively from De Talentenbank in the Netherlands said: "Long lasting and qualitative good matches will be realized by looking for candidates and personnel profiles in different ways. The selection process is often superficial while the applicant and the function in question have to be compared with an iceberg. As selector you merely see the top of the candidates' individual talents. Furthermore, a function requires more specific talents than the competencies is described in the average job profile.

In addition to that which Richard van der Lee describes, we ask that organizations during their selection process make more use of instruments that point to the world behind the CV like RDA and MBTI. These methodologies visualize values, ambitions, and the behaviour of a possible candidate. Besides that, even during the design of the job description and construction of a personnel profile a lot can be accomplished by not assuming that a generic description of competencies is needed.

First examine which talents are presently needed to fulfil the function, taking into account flexible employee requirements and the necessary diversity within a specific team, and follow these outcomes during selection. Our observation is that the applicant who seems to be the most suiyable candidate for the organization on paper as well as during the interview is not always the best candidate. We need to look over the horizon with regard to what is directly visible."

Prevent thinking in compartments

Use your intuition during recruiting and selection to signal diversity and (latent) talent. You will find added value for yourself, your customers and your organization. In short, adjust your considerations outside the standard thinking patterns and prevent thinking in compartments. Also make use of the correct instruments, investigate matters which are not directly understood, prevent superficiality and look for the added value of talent. Johan Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) understood this a long time ago and the essence of this article can be summarized in one sentence with his quotation:

"To see can be compared with to hear, everyone only hears that which he understands"

About the leading author

Richard van der Lee is working as a Manager at Rabobank in the Netherlands. Besides that Richard is Talent Entrepreneur at his own company ‘Vision on Talent Consultancy’. He published several articles/blogs which have been published on several HRM-sites and a website for managers and directors in the Netherlands and Belgium). He gives advice to individuals/organizations about talentdevelopment-issues and is also asked to give presentations about his vision on HRM-issues in seminars. As part of an Executive MBA he researched the development of individual talent in organizations. This resulted in a specific ideology for organizations, and a corresponding model on how to build a ‘vision on talent’. The main component of the model is the strong relationship between relevant market perspectives and organizational perspectives. Email Richard for questions or suggestions to, or find him on twitter under the name @visieoptalent or visit his website Visieoptalent. A version of this article was earlier published in the Netherlands on several websites and is translated from Dutch into English by Joop van der Lee.


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