“Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview. So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.” – Steve Jobs

Finally someone has come out and said what we in the business of recruiting and talent acquisition have known all along, recruiting is hard. It is finding needles in haystacks. And we are always in search of the data behind the data, the metadata.

Think about what we do, day in and day out to help our clients hire the very best talent for their positions. We begin by sourcing for candidates using a number of channels, LinkedIn, job postings, internal databases, external resume/job boards, industry specific directories to name just a few in order to gather the first bit of data on our candidates. Then we review the resumes and screen for more data that helps us develop a smaller pool of candidates more closely aligned to the qualifications and requirements for the position. We may at this point conduct a phone screen/interview gathering more data behind the data that we have to create a smaller pool of better qualified candidates. We then either conduct a face to face interview, or present the candidates directly to the hiring manager to gather more data behind the data that we have. And at some point we may check references to gather more data.

All of this data gathering, this searching for the data behind the data should result in our client making an offer to one of our candidates, who will accept and become a great employee.

And yet with all of this data gathering much of what we do is based on our gut, on how we feel about that candidate, as Jobs said. In fact in a recent study of experienced management recruiters, the majority surveyed felt that better than 80% of hiring decisions were based on how the person(s) interviewing and selecting candidates felt about the candidates. Did the candidates make them “feel good”, was there good chemistry.

In his NYT best selling book,How to Land Your Dream Job, Jeffrey Fox lists the following things that will make decision makers feel good about hiring someone.

The candidate:

  • Will fit in with the other employees well enough to neither be destructive nor self-destruct.
  • Is technically competent or trainable.
  • Answers questions directly, honestly, and concisely.
  • Is affordable, is within the means of the organization.
  • Shows genuine interest in the company and the job.
  • Demonstrates having done homework on the company, and is knowledgeable about the issues facing the company.
  • Values the purpose of the company and therefore values the purpose of the job.
  • Is nice, well mannered and likeable.
  • Has enthusiasm, pep, energy. Laughs.
  • Is smart enough.
  • Has an”I can do it. I can get it done. I will do it. No problem” attitude.
  • Asks positively phrased questions that cause the interviewer to think and which engage the interviewer.
  • Takes notes.
  • Does not invade other people’s physical or social space.
  • Sends a thank you note to each interviewer.

So if a candidate did and exhibited all of Fox’s suggestions would you hire him? Would your metadata search support your decision? Or would your gut cloud your decision.

One thing I know for sure and you don’t need to be a MAC person to say this, Steve Jobs was right, Recruiting is hard.

And even Bill Gates would agree.



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