Work first, interview later
June 8, 2018
What Staffup Weekends Can Teach Us About Better Recruitment
The internet provides us with endless articles on the art of the interview:
- Dress according to the vibe of the office
- Mirror your interviewer’s body language
- Be engaged and ask questions
- Don’t mention an interest you have in something that no one else in the office can appreciate—Wait, what?
This last one may seem a bit ridiculous, but it’s true.
Multiple studies have shown us that traditional hiring practices put too much weight on an applicant’s academic pedigree, pre-formulated answers to rigorous questioning, and whether the individual “fits” with the company. Why is this? Human nature.
All human beings are subject to unconscious biases, which can result in certain applicants being passed by for a role they may be well-suited for. Generalizations often play a role in forming our biases. For example, we may perceive that someone with certain interests will be a better fit within our team or that an Ivy-league education correlates to a stronger skill set.
Companies around the world are noticing the effect of biases within flawed hiring processes: Its effect on employee turnover and the costs of hiring and training is significant. In 2012, consulting firm Leadership IQ revealed that from 20,000 new hires, 46% of them had failed within 18 months. In 2013, Google also discovered the inconsistency between acing interviews and job performance:
“We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationships. It’s a complete random mess.”
— Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President for Google’s People Operations
How do we combat biases that we aren’t consciously unaware of? What can we do differently?
Enter Staffup Weekends
Brooke Allen launched Staffup Weekends with the hope that the event might help companies hire in a less biased, more effective and more humane way. Allen advocates that the solution to hiring resides in a call-to-adventure, not an advertisement: Bring together all job-seekers for a hands-on, skill-testing weekend so they can show their skills, not just talk about them.
At the end of the 48-hour adventure, not all who first walked through the doors will remain. Many simply can’t hack it: their degrees, the name of their university, and their extra-curricular interests won’t help them conceptualize and complete the project. Those who do have the opportunity to present the product of their weekend efforts in small teams to potential hiring managers in the room.
For hiring managers, this is a chance to see what a person can do, how they think, what their work style, strengths, and weaknesses are, without anyone having to convince them. Instead of talking about their qualifications, the applicants demonstrate them firsthand! The weekends also allow recruiters to scope out candidates at a fraction of the cost of traditional recruiting.
“The fact that people stayed for 48 hours to work on something put them head and shoulders above the thousands of applications we receive because the participants are people who show up and see things through.”
— Chris Nicholson, Head of communications and Recruitment for FutureAdvisor
At this point, the idea of Staffup Weekends is new and not commonly used, but there is a lesson from innovative hiring practices here: “Seeing is believing.”
This is good news for you and your potential hire: You get to see that your candidate is capable of what their resume boasts they can do, and your new employee feels confident stepping in to work on their first day because they know you already believe in them and value their skills.
If employee engagement is heavily based on keeping your team feeling valued, this shift in hiring strategies is gold. Think of the energy your recruits are bringing into the company! Gone is the pressure to prove themselves and, in its place, is an invaluable confidence knowing they bring something needed to the team.
That sense of value is going to translate into greater creativity, better communication, and higher work quality earlier on.
This shift in hiring practices could be a platform for initiating powerful relationships between companies and their employees. You no longer need to wait for your recruits to start work to confirm that they can deliver or work well with your staff: find a way, whether it be through a Staffup Weekend, or another hands-on approach, to put applicant skills to the test. Get to know them, chat with them, work alongside them, and be more confident in your recruiting process than ever before.
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