Identifying Low Performing Candidates in the Interview
As hiring executives, and/or talent management professionals, identifying top performers- ‘A’ Players, is the top priority in building a vibrant corporate culture and building a high growth company. Why? ‘A’ players outperform ‘B’ players by as much as much as 24 X according to Geoff Smart. Miss hires are very costly in the process of sifting for high potential talent. Miss hires cost a company 15 X their salary. Combined with salary cost, opportunity cost can be high. For instance in sales one miss hire lasting six months costs a company $10,000 in salary monthly plus the lost revenue in a given territory. So, if the quota is $2.4M, your miss hire now has costed you the $60,000 in salary, plus the $1.2M in lost revenue. Multiply the 15X salary which equates to $900,000 plus the $1.2M in lost revenue. $2.1M is the cost. Hefty price tag.
Below, Mark Murphy shares a critical tip on determining whether the talent in front of you is high potential talent, or cul-de-sac talent. Cul-de-sac talent is capable of doing the job, potentially. Cul-de-sac talent is the ‘B’ player and below. Mark suggests listening for black and white thinking and absolute terms such as always, never and impossible. Once a candidate’s thinking is identified in the job interview, the interviewer now has a valuable data point to consider.
Below is Mark’s article.
Beware Of Hiring Candidates Who Say ‘Always’ And ‘Never’ In Job InterviewsIf the job candidate you’re interviewing says “always” and “never” a lot, it may be a signal that you’re talking to a low performer. How do we know this? My Hiring for Attitude research team asked about 1,400 professionals a series of open-ended job interview questions such as, ” Could you tell me about a time you got tough feedback from the boss?”
We then classified all the answers according to potentially good and potentially bad hires, and finally, we performed a textual analysis to see how high and low performer answers varied. (Basically, we used software to analyze the grammar, content, word forms, etc. of all the answers.) Amongst our findings, we learned that low performers use absolutes, such as “ always” and “never,” 103% more than high performers.
There aren’t too many things in life are “always” or “never” much of anything. High performers know this. Plus, the best candidates have all kinds of high performer experience to draw from that they can’t wait to share with you. So, for example, if you ask a high performer, “Could you tell me about a time you faced a tough challenge at work?” it just doesn’t serve them to say, “Oh yeah, that always/never happened to me.”
Instead, a high performer will tell you, usually in detail, about any number of times they faced a tough challenge at work. For example, “It required a lot of courage for me to stand behind my idea. But I was able to do it because I was confident that I had covered all my bases and that this was the very best solution for both the organization and the client.”
Low performers, on the other hand, don’t have those high performer experiences to draw from. Peppering their language with absolutes to try and sound like a high performer is one way low performers try and hide that fact. For example, a low performer might say, “I’ve never faced a tough challenge I couldn’t beat” or “I was always faced with tough challenges at my last job.”
Research also shows that low performers tend to engage in black and white thinking and they often evidence a lack of intellectual flexibility, insecurity and a need to show off, all of which also play out in the use of absolutes. What you often won’t hear from low performers are all the delightful details about what they actually did in this situation that high performers are so eager to share.
In addition to practice, all it takes to do this kind of textual analysis during your own candidate interviews is to listen, really listen. And that means that when the candidate is talking, you’re not talking, or interrupting, or interjecting. Your lips are zipped and your ears are wide open. In this way you can listen to a candidate’s language with an awareness of how often they say “always” or ”never” or some other absolute. This starts to give you a good feel about whether they’re headed toward the high or low performer camps.
Does this mean that every person who says “always” or “never” in an interview is an automatic low performer? Of course it doesn’t. Textual analysis is a gold mine when it comes to assessing attitude, but it’s just one part of the Hiring for Attitude process. The most successful hiring managers recognize the signals that a candidate may be faking attitude and then probe deeper to get to the truth.
Mark Murphy is the founder of Leadership IQ, NY Times bestselling author, a sought-after speaker, and he also teaches a weekly series of leadership training webinars.
Conclusion: Most executive’s realize interviewing is never a science. Sure there are quantifiable accomplishments, KPI’s to assess and correlate against income, but, an interview never really has the full measure of the individual, until the new hire is on board, and interacting with all variables in play within a corporation. Adding new diagnostic tools to an interview ‘quiver’ is always helpful and can help increase the odds of hiring top talent.