Magazine article Techniques

What Employers Don't Know about Their New Hires, and Why

Magazine article Techniques

What Employers Don't Know about Their New Hires, and Why

Article excerpt

RACHEL IS ON HER FIRST SERIOUS JOB INTERVIEW at a small local design firm specializing in creating new product ideas for the home. She is escorted into a small conference room to meet a three-person interview team. The team facilitator tells Rachel that she has passed the paper screening. "Yours was a most unusual resume," he remarks. "Although it docs not appear on paper that you are qualified for the position, something about your resume caught our attention. We have a few questions for you but would prefer that you start by telling us about yourself and your work."


Rachel opens her new briefcase and begins, "I understand you specialize in designing products for homes. Well, for the last three years I have been doing just that myself as part of my formal and informal learning. I want to show you some of my designs and describe the process I use. I think you will find that my designs and design process are similar to yours. I have researched your company and believe I understand your process, your products and your customers."

Rachel then distributes a chart of competencies she had used to guide her learning activities over the previous three years. She quickly summarizes the performance information that is typically available: her scores on basic literacy and numeracy. But then she goes on to focus on the skill sets that she assumes are especially valuable to the design firm.

"You will note," she says, referring to the competency chart, "that I am particularly strong in a few skill sets that you value highly: design thinking, communicating via graphics and objects, working flexibly and adapting to change, and information and technology literacy. I have provided my performance scores in these areas. If you'd like, I will later cite specifics in my portfolio to show you what those scores look like in my actual performances and products. I also have video clips and prototypes for your review. Also, please note the certificates, developed by your industry, I have earned to validate my skills."

By now, you may have guessed that this story about Rachel and her first job interview is a bit of a fabrication. Although we imagine that some or ail of it could be real in a few of the thousands of job interviews conducted daily, Rachel's use of such a range and quality of performance information is most uncommon. Nevertheless, we believe that most employers would love to have the information that Rachel presented about her work and accomplishments and who she is as a person. Undoubtedly, they would also love to have job candidates present themselves so professionally.

Employers Don't Ask and Schools Don't Tell

So why, then, is Rachel's interview uncommon? Why is so little performance information available on job candidates? One answer to this question is simple and sad: Employers don't ask and schools don't tell. Our guess is that most employers would value having performance information on a wide range of essential competencies. Having performance information on all of the competencies would allow employers to better assess the strengths and weaknesses of each job candidate and make trade-offs among competencies depending on the specific job and related circumstances. In Rachel's case, for example, an employer might be willing to accept below average scores in mathematics for exceptional scores in design thinking. …

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