From June, 2013

Not Good at Hiring? Don’t Feel Bad! Neither was Google.

Google’s name lately has become so synonymous with success (if success is measured by how much money you make) that when they speak, people shut up and listen.  Recently Google VPGoogle’s VP of People Operations discussed a few of their past hiring failures.  As a proponent of video interviewing, part of his conversation really intrigued me.

“Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. 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 relationship. It’s a complete random mess,…” 

“Instead, what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.”

Here we see Google the all powerful basically admitting they had gotten it wrong.  Not only during the interview did the VP say that their notorious brain teaser questions were useless but also that their interviewing strategy was ineffective.

Two benefits of video interviewing come to mind when I read the article and one benefit I had not considered.  First, Google’s VP recognizes the power of using the structured interview to consistently assess each candidate.  Virtual one-way video interviewing provides such a structure by asking each candidate applying for a particular role an identical set of questions.  Not only does this reduce the random mess from interviewers making stuff up, structured questions reduce the risk for discrimination.

The second benefit which I had not considered is that your recorded interviews can be used as data to measure the success of your hiring practices.  Evaluate the achievements of your current employees and compare their success to how you first evaluated their video interviews.  Did your shining stars perform poorly in the interview (false negative)?  Did some of your current duds nail the interview (false positive)?  Are some of the questions you are asking not a predictive indicator of employee success?  Can you tell if some managers, based on their rating of job candidates, are performing ineffectively when deciding on the best candidate to hire?

Recorded video interviewing, aside from the efficiency it provides, also supplies you with data you need to improve your future hiring cycles.  Now I’m not rich and you don’t have to shut up but I suggest you listen.

What the NBA Teaches Us About Acquiring and Training Top Talent

I have written and ranted much in the last six months about the alleged talent shortage in the U.S. workforce.  I partly blame companies for not investing the money to train their NBA imagecurrent employees.  You see, companies who complain about not being able to find talent are unwilling to spend the dollars to train their present employees to fill the roles for which they can find no one.  They want instead for someone to meet every last qualification before bringing them into the fold, choosing to leave the position unfilled rather than spend money training an employee who might later depart and work for a competitor.

According to a survey of 494 adults conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand, only 35% of them said they had received training and development to better perform their role in the last six months.  Can you imagine if 65% of the San Antonio Spurs had not received any training in the last six months?  How many teams do you think they would beat?  Sure, when the Denver Broncos drafted Peyton Manning they had a fully skilled quarterback capable of throwing TDs and winning games.  This does not mean that special people, both doctors and coaches, weren’t hired to continue rehabilitation on his neck and to ensure he understood how to execute Denver’s style of offense.  Everyone in professional sports receives training on an ongoing basis to keep their skills honed.

The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers are organizations whose primary goal is to make money for their owners which are pretty much how things work at every organization.  Now if the team does not perform well then customers, the fans, stop coming to see the team play.  This in turns affects the owners’ wallets.  Very similarly if your corporate team doesn’t play well, then your customers stop buying your product or service, which in turn affects the owners’ wallets.

How do the major sports franchises ensure that fans keep watching their teams play?  Well first they try to acquire the best talent, either through the draft or free agency, just as an organization might try to secure top talent by using a recruiter or search firm.  When that talent joins they then pay that talent what they are worth (and at times even more than what they are worth).  They also train the talent.  Yes, they know that the talent might leave and play for another team in the future but they also understand that if their team doesn’t practice and receive training right now to get better, they won’t beat many of the other team organizations.  They understand the importance of training and winning.

Sports franchises recognize talent as an investment in their future and are willing to train and pay top dollar to ensure their future stays bright.

Not every corporate organization can say as much.

Five Lessons for Success We Can Learn from Children

My life doesn’t only revolve around hiring, video interviewing and recruiting.  I also Bourne - T-ballcommit a lot of time to coaching.  No, not coaching adults, coaching children.  As the father of a seven year old and a five year old, I have spent the last four years managing t-ball teams to success.  Yes, some of us more serious coaches privately keep score even in t-ball.  In addition, I have for the last year and a half helped manage a class of five and six year olds at church, so I have a lot of experience dealing with children.  Here are a few lessons we can learn from these miniature humans.

  1. They want to win perhaps more than adults – As of this post, my record over the last two years in t-ball is 26-1-1.  My key to success? I ask the children before every game if they want to have fun.  “Yes.” they reply.  I then ask, “Is it more fun to win or to lose?” “Win!” they shout.  That’s the secret.  Let them know that winning is important!  Early on I had my failures, too.  In my first stint at coaching I learned that every child wants to win whether they are playing Candy Land, a video game, or tag.  Their desire to win is so primal and fierce at times that we’ve convinced them that winning isn’t important so as not to hurt their little hearts when they lose.  Telling them there are no winners and losers, while designed to get them to solely appreciate game play, gives them no motivation to try harder and get better.  Children’s joy comes from winning the game more than playing it.  Sure many kids need to suck it up when they lose but how many of us adults need to be a little less content when we finish third or fourth?
  2. They know the squeaky wheel does get the grease – Not all children are the same.  Some ask politely for the things they want and when turned down, they accept your logic for denying their request and proceed quietly about their business.  Those are the children we respect.  Then there are children who will not take “no” for an answer.  They plead, beg and argue until you finally give into their demands simply because you don’t want to listen to them further.  You don’t love them for it and they realize you are annoyed but to them getting what they want far outweighs your opinion of them.  Though their selfishness needs some work, not worrying about what others think of them is a quality that helps them succeed.  Fear of criticism does not hold them back as it does many adults.
  3. They forget the past and don’t worry about the future – Children make mistakes but most do not dwell on them for days or even weeks as adults do.  They are blessed with short memories.  By not allowing past mistakes to spoil their present self-confidence, children are often willing to take more chances.  Additionally children live in the moment and don’t worry about the troubles of tomorrow that could rob their present day of its joy.
  4. Children keep on trucking – Similar to number three, children have the ability to get back up after falling and move on.  They don’t let broken arms, runny noses or sore throats stop them.  They don’t fill themselves with the “woe is me” attitude that so often plagues adults after years of being beaten down by life.  Have you ever remarked while watching a child run across a room, “Boy I wish I had their energy?”  Energy lands jobs.  Energy gets business deals closed.  Energy gets the worm!  Adults slow down and most of the time this results from a mental influence rather than a physical one.  Ignore your traffic ticket.  Forget about the dinner with your in-laws!  Stand up, brush yourself off, and attack life with the energy you wish you had!
  5. Children have friends – Do you remember when you had so many friends you couldn’t choose who to invite over to play?  As life takes over, adult friends take a back seat to work and other responsibilities.  Unbeknownst to us, with each friend that falls by the wayside, our opportunities and our energy dissipate a little more.  Why do children have enthusiasm?  Why do children want to win?  Why do children brush themselves off and keep on keeping on?  Because they have friends who motivate them to win, make them laugh, encourage them and open doors for them.  Friends introduce you to new opportunities.  Friends help land you jobs.  Friends pick you up when you are down.  Find your friends again and you will find your spirit to stand tall.

Thanks for your ear.  I’m off to line the field for one of my two remaining t-ball games.  I hope I didn’t jinx myself by stating my record.  Just remember, you can find inspiration even in children and once again rekindle your competitive spirit.