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Jim Brown

When I was a kid I played a lot of baseball.  I loved it, one of my favourite sports, and I wasn’t half bad at it either.  It was easy for me to excel at the infield and outfield positions due to better than average hand eye co-ordination and speed.  I could hit the ball pretty good as well, not really for power but I always managed to hit the ball hard somewhere.

But the one thing I could not do was pitch.  And of course I wanted to be a pitcher more than anything else in the world.  Several of my friends could pitch really well and I tried every day to get better but no matter what I did, I threw the straightest, most average velocity pitches around. Great for going from third to first but a disaster on the pitching mound.

As I got older I realized that my skills and physical talents just weren’t a fit for pitching, I just didn’t have the right stuff for it.  But I could contribute a great deal to the team in other positions. So I worked as hard as I could to improve the strengths I had and was able to help teams succeed with what I did well.

Over the last twenty years I’ve seen so many employees, managers and others try to “pitch” when they just didn’t have the stuff.  They really wanted the job, career, promotion, or other position -but didn’t bother to figure out if they were a fit for it.  Just as in sports, fit is critical when it comes to your work teams and the productivity and success that they will experience.

How are you measuring potential hires, or promotions for fit within your organization or team?  A lot of people think that they just know.  That they are able to size up someone in a few interviews or meetings and be able to decide the fit for a position.  But when we’re in an interview we want the job, so we all do our best to make sure the interviewer thinks we’re a great fit.

Let me give you another sports analogy.  In high school I tried out for the football team.  After running a couple of 40 yard sprints the head coach sent me over to the running backs to play there. Now I was an OK running back but we soon discovered that I was much more suited to linebacker and fullback because I got to hit people more often.  Fortunately the coach wasn’t too stubborn to try and keep me in a position that wasn’t the best fit for me.

But let’s look at how the coach’s initial “gut” instinct worked out.  Not so great.  How often do we hire someone on our gut for a position that just isn’t a great fit?  It happens all the time, then what do you do with the person?  Unfortunately most often, we wait for them to get frustrated and quit, or we have to let them go for performance reasons.

This is costly, and not a very honest thing to do to people.  The fact is you need more information about job candidates than you think you do, to determine fit and suitability.  Unless you’re the greatest psychologist in the world, how do you expect to be able to know what you need to about your candidate in just a few hours of interviews.  You can’t.  You’ll only see a fraction of who the person really is.

You need to know important details about their cognitive abilities, behavioural characteristics, and work interests.  Highly structured behavioural based interviews will give you a glimpse of important information and are a key part of the process.  But why not use a validated and reliable assessment tool to help you fill in the rest of the picture?

Not a simple personality assessment.  These have their place in coaching and performance management, but they are not qualified for hiring and selection.  I’m a huge fan of DISC personality assessments, but they are not valid when it comes to hiring and selection.  What you need is a normative based assessment that tells you who the person is, not who they think they are.  It’s important to use this style as well because it is more objective and reliable and therefore more fair for your selection process.

Stop trying to force people to play positions that they just aren’t good at.  Download our special 18 page Pre-Hire Preparation report for some great ideas on how you can select the right people for the job.  Just click here to download the pdf report and get tips for hiring and 101 things you should know about using assessments in hiring.


Jim Brown

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