Recruiting Strategies: Like Falling in Love?

By | June 15, 2015
Two people falling in love under fireworks recruiting strategies

Photo credit: Tom Wang/

There are many recruiting strategies for hiring great salespeople. However, the strategy that is most used follows the same process we use when we Fall in Love.

When It Comes to Recruiting Strategies, Love is NOT All You Need. 

Yes, hiring is most often like “falling in love”. We date a few times… and whammy… it just hits us. We are out of control and love just sort of happens to us.

Most hiring managers approach hiring in a similar way. They date, or in the case of hiring, they interview several candidates. The hiring manager tries to be as professional and objective as they possibly can. But, in the end, they decide on the candidate that feels right to them; the candidate they ultimately fall in love with.

50% divorce rate

When it comes to romantic relationships, many people fall in love and never get married. For those who do get married, the divorce rate is an astounding 50%! We might infer that this “falling in love” strategy may not be the most effective approach for choosing a partner.

Should we expect better results in the workplace using the same “falling in love” process that returns poor results in our personal lives? Probably not, but we continue to do it because it is what we’ve always done!

According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. If most of these bad hiring decisions are made using the “falling in love” strategy, there are some hard numbers saying that it’s time to take a different approach.

Is “falling in love” bad?

How can something that feels so right be bad? This is one of those silly rhetorical questions that you know there is no reasonable answer to. The bottom line is that you can’t tell someone who’s “in love” to think about it rationally or objectively. How many families are torn apart when one person tries to get the one who is “in love” to think about it rationally?

Similarly, when a hiring manager finds that perfect candidate, they just know it. Trying to talk them out of it is often futile.

There is a better way, a much better way.

Improving the odds of a better hire

I knew this girl in college who had a checklist of everything she wanted in a man. Let’s call her Sally.

Sally believed that the right guy would meet certain minimum requirements. She believed that regardless of how good she felt about a guy, if he didn’t meet those minimum requirements she would move on to the next guy.

This was Sally’s way of rationally approaching a normally irrational process. This was her way of remaining objective about a guy during the dating phase. Her list was a sort of acid test that every guy had to measure up to for consideration. He might get a date or two or even three with her. But, if she determined that he didn’t meet those minimum requirements she would move on to the next candidate.

Evidently, I didn’t have enough check-marks on her list. She dumped me. :-(

Before you judge Sally and think of her as a cold, calculating witch, she is still married to the same man decades later.

Falling in love can be easy. Ensuring you have the right one before you allow yourself to fall in love, that takes effort. It worked for Sally. And it can work for you in the hiring process too.

My job requisition is my checklist

That’s right, if adequately complete, our job requisition is our checklist. But, most hiring managers lose sight of their job requisition during the interviewing stage. They go straight into the falling in love process, skipping an important step in the dating process. Let’s figure out how to overcome that hurdle.

Step 1: Select the three, four or five competencies or skills that are crucial for the position we are hiring for. Let’s say we are looking for a regional sales person. Crucial to be a great salesperson in our business is that they need to have:

  •          Integrity
  •          Solid problem solving skills
  •          Time management discipline
  •          Qualifying skills
  •          And be an ace closer.

This may seem like the dream candidate, and maybe it is. But, if we don’t have a target to aim for… well you know how that goes.

This is what we call competency based interviewing. When we ask competency based questions we are focusing our interview on the most important competencies or skills, we need in a particular position.

Are we going to get all this from their resume? Maybe, maybe not. Even if we think we are getting it from a resume, the information is superficial at best. The problem is that when using the “falling love” recruiting strategy we look for someone with all these strengths. Then during the interview, we attempt to get a feel for whether the person in front of us is the right one or not. When we get that feeling, it is akin to falling in love in our personal life. So we hire them. That’s our mistake.

Before we allow ourselves to fall in love we need to use a certain discipline first. Here’s how my friend Sally did it.

Specific interview questions

My college friend, Sally, wouldn’t approach the problem without a certain discipline first. Sally wanted to verify that the guy qualified in each one of the areas on her checklist. Then she used a numerical scale to rate them. After a while Sally learned the best way to ask questions of the guys she was dating. As time went on, her questions became very specific and got her the information she needed much more efficiently.

Then she could rate each guy. After she had rated them rationally, dispassionately she allowed herself to continue to date them. She would either “fall in love” or not. Then she met Harry and bingo; he was the one.

Behavioral interview questions for sales candidates

Sally had her favorite ways of getting the information she needed from each date to determine if they met her criteria. In the recruiting business, we do the same.

We call this behavioral interviewing. We use behavior based interview questions to guide the candidate to share details about different sales situations they have faced.

When we use these behavioral interview questions for sales positions we are structuring our discussion with the candidate in a way that asks them to tell us what happened in certain situations. This is the key difference. We get them to share their experience or behavior instead of just talking about a situation.

Rating candidates before we fall in love

Let’s say we are going to have five people interviewing our candidates for this sales position. We are going to want some structured feedback from the interviewers. That structured feedback can fall into one of several different levels.

  1.     Yes/No, I like them/I don’t like them (Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down),
  2.     General rating scale, or
  3.     Rating scale in each competency.

At each level, we may be getting feedback from a few of the interviewers or all of them. For someone to spend time interviewing candidates and not give us feedback or give us superficial feedback is a waste of our time and theirs.

To get mere, Yes/No feedback like in #1 above is nearly useless information. We want to know why our interviewer liked the person or why they didn’t like them. The same is true of feedback that provides a numerical rating without an explanation. Why did you give this person a “4” on a scale of 1 to 4 and everyone else gave them a “2”? What did you see that others did not see? This can be really important information.

Lastly, we want to look at the categories our interviewers will use to rate candidates. We want them to be thorough without overburdening them with too much detail. We suggest candidates be rated on their match between themselves and:

  •          The functional requirements of the position,
  •          The people with whom they would work,
  •          The company culture, and
  •          The interviewer’s overall level of enthusiasm for this candidate.

These are questions to ask our interviewers about each candidate. These questions and an explanation of the rating system we use should all appear on our Interview Evaluation Form.

Falling in love is the goal                                                        

My friend Sally wanted to fall in love. But, she was smart enough to know that she could just as easily fall in love with the right guy as the wrong guy.

But this required Sally to have a discipline that few young people have.

For us to learn to hire this way requires a discipline for everyone involved in hiring in our organization,

Imagine the improvement to our quality of hire for each position if we:

  1.     Had a focused list of 3-5 competencies/skills,
  2.     Had specific interview questions for each competency/skill,
  3.     Had a rating scale in each competency/skill, and
  4.     Had ratings for a succinct list of high-level criteria.

When interviewing job candidates in our organization improves to that level of discipline our quality of new hires improves substantially. The overall quality of the company and the bottom line profit improves proportionately. This is a recruiting strategy I can fall in love with. How about you?

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One thought on “Recruiting Strategies: Like Falling in Love?

  1. Pingback: Use Behavioral Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit | Progression

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