Why You Need to Stop Hiring with Cookie Cutter Competencies

This post is inspired by a chance meeting with a fellow HR practitioner and the conversation that followed.

 It was a few Tuesdays ago, 10.30am. I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and their not free, but delicious nonetheless, coffee.

 I glanced up from my lap top to see ‘X’, whom I hadn’t seen for a while.

 “Hey!” X said, “I loved your blog post with the 25 Interview Questions”. I beamed!

 “But what competencies do I assess the responses against?”

 ‘X’ had made an important point. A lively conversation followed over cups of coffee. I gladly paid for the coffees – grateful for the brainpoke.

Now down to business!

How to Freshen Up Your Stale Hiring Criteria When You Lack Inspiration

I am a keen student and observer of the kind of gutsy hiring happening in thriving organisations.

These are the trends and actions I am keeping an eye on.

They recruit for stretch and actively seek out difference makers; not ‘more people like us’. Hiring for culture fit has proved to be a slippery slope to sleepy complacency and sloth-like inertia in organisations.

“It’s wiser to follow the example from the design firm IDEO, and hire on cultural contribution. Instead of looking for people who fit the culture, ask what’s missing from your culture, and select people who can bring that to the table”. Adam Grant in a Forbes interview.

Gutsy, thriving organisations have long ago (that is if they ever did this in the first place) banished cookie cutter competencies from their recruitment process.

Yes, they do hire for job-related, functional skills needed to perform the critical tasks of a given role. But they go further.

For success in today’s fast changing business landscape, focusing talent and experience is simply not enough these days.

Relying on your list of stale old competencies and hiring criteria is a surefire way to lose your chance to positively contribute and build a dynamic employee community.


How to Freshen Up Your Stale, Same Old Hiring Criteria

Answer these questions.

  • Do you want to build a community of difference makers in your organisation?
  • Do you want to know the super skills and mind-sets that savvy HR, and Recruiters in gutsy thriving organisations look for in new hires?

OK! Let’s go.

It’s time step beyond what you have been doing for ages.  Replace your cookie cutter competency criteria with these 7 fresh mind-set / super skills criteria.

Do this and you will be on your way to creating value through your recruitment process.

1. Bias for action and the remarkable: They don’t wait to be ‘given’ opportunities but seek out chances to do the remarkable; even from dull and ordinary tasks. As if by magic they can turn the dull into a delight and deliver extraordinary from the ordinary.

2. Learn and Unlearn: Willing and able to pursue self-directed learning with the ability to learn (new and different) and unlearn (the irrelevant and low value) simultaneously. Shares with colleagues and applies new learning in daily work and interactions.

3. Self-disrupt. Consciously and deliberately choose to push to the known edge of their role and capabilities. They don’t allow themselves to get comfortable.

4. A Quitter and A Sticker: Knows when to quit and when to stick because of a focus on creating value and making a difference. Values and purpose alignment is always a consideration and is used to inform decisions and action.

5. Relishes Responsibility: Actively seeks out more responsibility for personal growth and/or to help grow the business.

6. Leading Up: The ability to lead and influence to up. Watch this video of  Seth Godin, ‘Thinking Backwards’ talk for Creative Mornings HQ.

An inspirational and thought-provoking talk on our new reality and the mind-sets needed in the post-industrial economy  - no matter what industry you are in.

7. Dare to Care: Involved in or doing a ‘passion project’ that is outside of their regular job. Work that fulfills personal purpose, values or engages interests or talents not being used in their regular job.

WARNING! When you stop using cookie cutter competencies and start hiring with super skills / mind-set criteria, you will need to create the environment where this mind-set can thrive and bloom within your organisation. Remember difference-makers know when to stick and when to quit.

Now is a good time to go back to the  25 Unexpected Questions to Help you Interview for the Rare and the Remarkable, posted here in Recruiting Blogs or via The HR Rabbit Hole blog.

Select appropriate questions to suit each of the new 7 mind-set criteria.

OR Simply, choose to add your own questions and mind-set criteria to design your way to improved recruitment results.

I’ve said this before. I believe HR is Art. It may feel like a martial art discipline sometimes – but art it is nonetheless.

Practice ‘the Art of HR’. Selection Design is an opportunity for HR to make a meaningful difference and contribute value to the business.

  • What new hiring criteria are you using?
  • How are you creating fresh value through your recruitment process?

Share in the comments. I would love to read them.

This post was originally posted in full in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole on 19th June 2016. It has been tweaked only a little by the author and now freshly served for the Recruiting Blogs community.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR, breaking rules and transforming HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

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