Magazine article Management Today

Everything You Know about Business Is Wrong: The Trouble with Talent Spotting

Magazine article Management Today

Everything You Know about Business Is Wrong: The Trouble with Talent Spotting

Article excerpt

I recently saw a flashy presentation on the rise of big data in employee selection. Amazing what you can find out from someone's Facebook page. The frequency of certain words indicates neuroticism. A liking for Leonard Cohen maps to a high IQ. This stuff left old-school techniques like interviews and references choking in the dust.

But be careful - the candidate is only half the story when you're hiring. It's equally important to understand the organisation into which they are being recruited. All firms are not the same and someone who thrives in one might very well wilt in another.

I worry that, carried away by their enthusiasm for new toys, many users of these tools will miss this vital point. So rather than trying to identify those most likely to do well in their particular organisations, instead I have a horrible vision of hundreds of HR managers all converging on the same small pool of stereotypical 'talent'.

Systems based on such narrow 'person specifications' assume you know exactly what you want. Often you do not.Consider, for example, Station X, the government code-breaking establishment at Bletchley Park during WWII. This seems to have been one of the biggest collections of oddballs, misfits and lunatics ever assembled. …

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