Magazine article Talent Development

On Your Best Behavior: A Small Business Owner Learns That He Can't Rely on Gut Instinct for Hiring Success

Magazine article Talent Development

On Your Best Behavior: A Small Business Owner Learns That He Can't Rely on Gut Instinct for Hiring Success

Article excerpt

The following story was told by David Schwartz, president of organizational consulting firm Executive Confidential.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLIENT

A New York--based porcelain and ceramic tile importer

PROBLEM

The owner of the small, 60-employee company was a dynamic, intense, and bright CEO with a self-diagnosed organizational effectiveness weakness: He was doing a "lousy job" at hiring and was quite unhappy with the caliber of much of his senior staff.

DIAGNOSIS

The CEO allowed instinct and emotion to lead his hiring practices. For example, when he advertised a position, he gave his direct phone number and asked job seekers to call and leave a voicemail. These messages acted as his first candidate screening: He chose callers based on the sound of their voices (tone, inflection, and so forth). He assigned an assistant to contact the "voices" he deemed acceptable for a phone interview. The assistant--who had no interview training or experience--whittled down the list of prospects to two or three, whom the CEO then interviewed over the phone. While the CEO had somewhat of a hiring process in place, it was largely illogical and poorly planned.

METHODS

Schwartz applied discipline to the hiring practices and provided training. First, he created job descriptions to identify the behaviors and skills of people who would best fit the positions. He introduced behavioral interviewing using the Predictive Index System (PI), an assessment that helps employers identify people's motivations using the concept of stimulus-response in psychometrics--that is, triggering one's primitive, natural brain response to illuminate his true behaviors. In this situation, Schwartz taught the CEO to use PI to align leadership qualities with job prospects.

For example, while three candidates for a management position may look comparable on paper, they could be dramatically different on a behavioral level. …

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