The Biggest Mistake Poor Recruiters Make, the Good Ones Don’t

Recruiters, we’re an interesting lot. We have a power and with that responsibility. You could almost call us, career gatekeepers. We almost single handedly, with the help of the hiring manager, have peoples lives, careers and income in our hands. Like an omnipotent god, we can wave our hands and say “yes” or “no” about any candidate we want. We have a shit load of power and I often wonder if most recruiters recognize this, but I digress. With power comes responsibility, (I totally sound like nerd huh?) and in the case of recruiters enough of us don’t use our power correctly. Why? Because we judge! As a recruiters our job isn’t to judge. Our job is  to evaluate and assess and there is a BIG difference between judging and evaluating. Judging is when we say something is right or wrong. It’s forming an opinion, not necessarily with understanding. Evaluation on the other hand is assessing in an attempt to understand and in recruiting, understanding if someone can do the job we’re recruiting for is OUR JOB. It’s easy to judge the guy with no “industry” experience as unable to do the job, BUT are you sure he can’t do the job just because he has not industry experience? Are you really sure? How do you know? It’s easy to judge the girl without a college degree applying for the pharmaceutical sales job as unable learn the complexities of pharmaceuticals, but are you sure that’s the case? It’s easy to judge the kid who comes into the interview chewing gum and assume he has no customer service skills, but how do you know for sure? He just might. It’s easy to judge the resume with the typo as being from someone lacking attention to detail, but are you sure they don’t and how do you know they can’t do the job? I’m not gonna bullshit you, these are all “potential” red flags, but not determiners. Unfortunately, too many recruiters make decisions based on judgements like these and not on good solid evaluation.  The ability of any candidate to successfully crush it on the job goes a lot deeper than anything “judgement” can provide. Good recruiters evaluate a candidate’s talent AND ability to do a job through their judgements. They use their judgements to guid their candidate evaluation in order to arrive at an accurate assessment of capabilities and fit. A good recruiter zero’s in on their concerns, triggered by judgement. Judgement acts as the compass that guides their evaluation in finding badass candidates with loads of talent, not resumes and checkboxes. There’s been and interesting discussion happening on Linked the past few days . Someone asked,

What would be your reaction to a candidate chewing gum during an interview? Would you still consider them for the role?

These are some of the answers; Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.26.32 AM   Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.26.13 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.25.33 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.25.25 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.24.45 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.24.35 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.23.29 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.23.08 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.22.27 AM   and my favorite, (wow don’t hold back). Can we be anymore judgmental? Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.04.26 PM   Each and everyone of these comments is judging, providing little to no consideration or willingness to evaluating the candidate. Chewing gum in an interview, regardless of ones view is only ONE evaluation data point and making a decision on that one data point is judging and it’s how recruiters fail. Not everyone in the comments judged, many embraced the evaluation element of their role as a recruiter and did a great job of trying to look deeper into what really mattered.  I thought this comment was great; Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.26.01 AM Judy nailed it. She has an opinion on gum chewing in an interview, BUT understands that her job is to understand if a candidate can add value to the organization and judging the fact that someone is chewing gum does VERY LITTLE in helping you ascertain that. In case you’re curious, here’s my answer; Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.40.52 AM I spend a tremendous amount of time evaluating candidates and checking my judgements. I want try to form a story in my head of who they are, what motivates them, why they would be good in the position I’m hiring for and more. I get deep into who is sitting in front of me and they can feel it.  At the end of my interviews, candidates know and believe I have an accurate, straight forward picture of who they are, what they are capable of AND most importantly, if they would crush it in the position.  (I see additional blog posts here, stay tuned.) Here’s the deal. It’s our job to find badass “insert role here.”  The way you do this is through evaluation, not judgement. We need to embrace each candidate with our Columbo hat on. We need to look deeper into who they are, how they operate, how they think, what they’re good at, how they approach their jobs, what makes them tick and more. This can’t be done via judgement. It has to be done by digging, evaluating and committing to understand. Recruiting is not a judgement game, it’s an understanding and analysis game and that, my fellow recruiters, is no simple task.