The HR Juggler

A Different Type of Selection

Posted on: May 15, 2011

I am fascinated by how different organisations select their leaders.

My church is in the process of recruiting a youth minister and a potential candidate came to visit today. During the children’s talk, she was ‘interviewed’ and children read out all manner of apparently random questions, which she then had to answer spontaneously in fromt of the 200 or so people present.  Questions included –

  • do you prefer ice skating or roller-skating?
  • would you rather go to Disneyland or Darfur?
  • do you prefer taking a bath or a shower?
  • would you rather be an artist or a scientist?

It was interesting on many levels, not least because there were no generally known selection criteria, other than perceived cultural fit and ability to communicate effectively. In principle, none of the questions would necessarily have right or wrong answers, but they were surprisingly revealing – it turns out she didn’t know where Darfur was and chooses to take a shower directly after every bath. To what degree either of these things matter remains to be seen…knowedge of humanitarian crises and an environmental awareness could potentially be seen as important…but then perhaps honesty is a more powerful trait than an ability to negotiate questions with political correctness. It comes back to the selection criteria (and whether there is one!).

For the candidate, the whole day was to be a prolonged interview and selection exercise: she participated in the children’s sunday school activities, she was due to host a lunch for 20 so church members in their twenties, she was to meet with the deacons (church leaders) and then lastly preach at the evening service. After all of that, the church members will meet and vote on whether they would like to make her an offer.

It made me think about the potential corporate alternative: candidates spendig a day with the organisation whilst making a choice whether they felt it would be a good fit for them personally, lunching with colleagues, presenting to the board, exploring their personal values, in addition to the more standard interview, with all who met the individual having a say in whether they ought to be recruited or not.

I suspect there are lessons to be learned from both sides and being part of somethg so out of my usual recruitment and selection experience is great for challenging our accepted norms and thinking differently. One thing is for sure though – as and when leaders are recruited in this open and transparent way, in whichever organisation they join – they should surely have a huge amount of buy-in and support to lead their organisations forward and really make a difference.

What do you think?

11 Responses to "A Different Type of Selection"

Good post Alison!

I always think that it’s important for any potential employee to spend as long as possible with the new company. In my recruitment to recruitment days I would always encourage clients to get a potential new consultant in for at least a half day to spend some time in the office and get a real feel for the culture and working atmosphere.

Always essential to ensure that there are no surprises on the first day, and that both employee and employer find that everything is as they expect it to be.

Thanks Merv, you make some really good points that I think we as recruiters often overlook. Always value your comments 🙂

First thought tough day!
Second thought, reminds me of ‘day in industry days’ I did as a teenager – now I wasn’t interviewing but you got a feel for the company and the industry. My day was with HSBC, who I subsequently spent 5 years with. I don’t think this was a coincidence.

Great post Alison – but who takes a shower straight after a bath????

I’m with you on the tough day perspective – made me feel drained just thinking about it 😉

Interesting to hear what you say about the day in industry days – perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity that these don’t always happen in such a structured way any more.

The bath straight after the shower answer was a bit of a clanger and she realised that she had been lulled into being a bit too honest…doesn’t like stewing in her own dirt apparently 😉

I think this is a great blog. It has really made me think – thanks

Thank you, that’s lovely of you to say

I wish I could use some of those questions in a corporate environment. 😉

Lol…now there’s a thought!

@Katie – why can’t you 🙂

Great post Alison – I’m happy to confess I don’t understand recruitment, at least not the science of it. Just because I did x for y company doesn’t mean it will work for potential new employer z. Or does it?

Whereas the shower and bath thing that Oli Highlights – well now that’s a different thing altogether!

I attempted to get my head round the maths behind recruitment a while ago…I started with something like:

“How many initial applicants for a role would you expect to be able to fulfil the requirements? 1 in 10 maybe? And how often would you expect the interview process to deliver the right results? Most experts would say that a 7 out of 10 success rate of interview process delivering right result is high. Hey, it’s nearly Christmas so let’s be generous and say 8 times out of 10.

Using these assumptions the chances of selecting the right candidate are about 2 to 1 against (and if you do turn the dial to a 7 out of 10 hit rate on interview process the odds against correct selection increase to nearly 4 to 1 against).”

I carried on for a while but my head hurt! I think most of the work I do comes from a mix of me being attracted (in a kind of values, beliefs way) to the customer and vice versa. And I like the way you and your collegues are making this happen – more places should get kids in to fire random questions at candidates!

Thanks for commenting Doug, I love hearing what you have to say on all these things. I agree getting kids to ask the questions is genius 🙂

Great post Alison. Feels like a more human centred approach. Also, spending more time in the company is only an enabling factor. I think the curiosity and environment created by the recruiting executive is more important. That is assuming that they can come out from hiding behind the shield of business!

Perhaps there’s something here for leadership development programmes?

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