One of the key strategies in the Human Resource function of any organisation is to hire the right people at the right price. While human capital are the most important assets in any organisation, the process of recruitment is often more like a “hit and miss” strategy which usually depend on the following factors:
1) How well the candidates write (assuming that they have done it themselves)
2) How glorious their previous professional and academic experiences
3) How presentable he or she appears
4) How well he or she speaks, especially when posed with difficult questions
5) How much he or she is asking for (and how much you can afford!)
6) How much you like him or her (hey let’s face it, chemistry plays an almost overriding role in most hiring decisions)
While the above factors for candidate evaluation may sometimes yield a rare gem, they do also result in a biased outcome favouring those who look better, speak better, write better or fake better.
You may also be in danger of hiring people who are so similar to each other – and yourself – that your team could face the danger of having tunnel vision, stereotypical prejudices, and other ills of cultural conformity. Of course, there may be less quarrels and confrontations in the office if everybody is a clone, but the flipside is that the cross-fertilisation of fresh and novel ideas may also diminish.
How then should one hire? Well, here are my thoughts:
1) Hire your customers. Or rather, staff who are likely to be representative of your various targeted demographic, psychographic or behavioural groups. If you’re selling detergent, don’t have an entire team full of men who have never done a day of laundry in their lives.
2) Hire for diversity rather than similarity (unless your target group is so microscopic). Place priority on candidates with different ethnicities, genders, career backgrounds (eg mix of private and public sector experiences), life stages, and so on.
3) Hire those who may hold a different worldview from yourself. Now this is probably the most challenging point as we’re usually attracted to people who are similar to ourselves. However, having colleagues with differing viewpoints does help to enrich the idea pool, and allow the team to expand their vistas.
4) Hire to complement the existing team. If you’re currently staffed by mavericks and rebels, it may be good to look out for more middle-of-the-road candidates to provide that “voice of reason”. Similarly, if most of your team mates are graduates from a specific institution, it may be wise to complement them with those from a differing educational background.
Naturally, one still needs to adhere to certain basic criteria when fitting people to the job – for example, you can’t expect an electrical engineer to cure people, or a sales executive to do financial accounting. However, learning to look beyond the usual talent pool may be worthwhile when considering a new team member for your organisation.