I consider myself privileged to have access to some of the most astute brains working in the field of Human Resources. More than their knowledge, I value their experience that has had more than their share of Bell Curves! In fact, the more challenges they face, the greater the contribution to my world (and I have admitted this to them, sheepishly of course!).
So where is all this leading to?
In the education space, Human Resource perhaps is more critical than any other service industry as a school’s reputation majorly rests on the shoulders of the teacher who can inspire and deliver on a vision. Yet, I am quite certain that seldom do schools invest in the process and rigour leading up to hiring the right candidate. Academic year after year, from November to March, the HR team is in a tearing rush to ‘close out’ positions. And in this need to ensure that the team is in place, some knee jerk decisions are taken which may prove costly.
What is the process of identifying the perfect candidate?
Let’s start with the fact that there is NO PERFECT candidate. Every candidate has some innate qualities, experience and aspirations that defines what they bring to an organisation. As a leader, it is up to an organisation to identify those strengths and work on the areas of opportunities and create a ‘perfect’ match for their institute.
So when hiring, it is critical to invest in the process and work out ‘softer’ areas than simply facts. I remember reading an article by a candidate who openly refused the job because she felt that the panel interviewing was intimidating and asked her questions that set her up to stumble, made her feel inadequate and demonstrated their importance by rattling off a list of their own achievements … her response was simple, “ If you have all of this worked out, why are you hiring others? Why don’t you develop this internally?” She of course finished first in her class from a rated university, and we all know how campus recruitment work – hire the kid who finishes first in class, the rest is history!!!
I have often wondered: Why do we in the education circles pay little heed to EQ when we know the future industry success for our children will be based on EQ more than anything else? Why do we pack fourteen interviews in the span of a day, and give a candidate ten minutes to demonstrate her/his journey and judge basis of a five second introduction and fail to identify strengths?
As the aforementioned young lady pointed out, how about sharing the five year vision of the school before asking someone what her’s is? As opposed to thwarting the candidate, inspire her/him to join and communicate where you see the individual’s journey with the organisation will take her/him… While the hope is that candidates will have read up about the organisation on your website, walking her/him through the school’s vision also means making the recruiting process more inclusive.
For all the HR Heads out there, it is time to re-think the process and not simply depend on some psychometric evaluation of the candidate’s personality or potential behaviour but instead give her/him the chance to express. The written tests need not become ‘examinations’ but a reflection of what the candidate can do, and during mock demos, don’t dismiss her/ him on account of them being nervous (always remember- you at some point sat in the shoes of an interviewee, too!). List down skills, competencies and provide for ample training such that the inclusion into the school systems is a seamless one. It is imperative to create a process that becomes an experience for the candidate and leaves them aspiring to join your organization.
As an entrepreneur, I have always been rewarded with risks taken- working with people who demonstrate potential and a strong desire to embrace change have been invaluable asset to the organisation. It is perhaps time for some thinking before the next hire!