I took a sharp breath. How do you go from good to great? I thought about this for a couple of seconds, chose my response, and executed the best open ended question I could fathom – “Well… that sounds like a great idea, but what‘s the difference?”
And so, he proceeded to present a fairly well-defined list of what he viewed as the differences between good and great.
And I listened. And I listened some more, and then I continued to listen for even longer.
Amid a haze of adjectives that would have even the most ardent Countdown fan running for their lives from Dictionary Corner, what I eventually learnt was, that to him, ‘great’ was quite simply those graduates who truly wanted to work for his business.
And why did he want ‘great’, and not just ‘good’? They performed better. Who can argue with that?
How could he spot them? They were more enthusiastic, they knew his competitors and had even applied to some, they demonstrated that extra little bit of knowledge about the industry and to top it off, they demonstrated a pure passion that couldn’t be replicated in others.
So I asked him how he thought we could best work together to find ‘great’. Among his ideas and suggestions, the thought of video interviewing cropped up. His rationale for using it – “graduates like it, they’re used to it, it’s their thing isn’t it”.
And so followed a discussion around its pros and cons, to which I asked – if video interviewing didn’t exist, what else could we do?
“Well”, I suggested, “How about we just tighten up the ‘Why do you want to work for us’ question that we ask at telephone interview stage?”
I continued. “Let’s raise the benchmark and only give above average scores to those candidates whose answers go further than just verbatim of what is in the About Us section of your website and annual report. Let’s probe to see if they have a deeper understanding. When they talk about competitors, let’s ask for a few names and check if they have applied to them. When they say they are passionate about the industry, let’s ask them to demonstrate it. What have they done to prove they should be scored higher than a good applicant, and as such are a “great” candidate?
In the end, we came to the conclusion that video interviewing could wait. We could elicit what we were looking for by making small refinements, not wholesale changes.
I guess the point of this blog really then, is to suggest that the recruitment landscape is changing at quite some rate. As such, there will always be the temptation to try something brand new and emerging in the hopes it helps to improve the quality of hire.
Ultimately, however, there is often little need to make wholesale changes. It’s the small incremental ones, which if executed correctly, will deliver the best outcomes.
If you recruit graduates, apprentices or trainees and you want to go from good to great, why not play The Generation Y Game and find out what it might take.
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