The selection conundrum


I said to Charlotte Hallaways from Veran Performance and myHRcareers fame that I would blog for her on something related to the excellent myHRcareers party event at Harris + Hoole, Cannon Street coffee shop; and here it is…

Gareth Jones teasingly tore apart the “talent acquisition playbook” based on experience and CVs in favour of values, intellect and adaptability.  So I won’t repeat that but I WILL question the long unchallenged selection process of tests, interviews and assessment mechanics.

When we’re selecting for a role we have criteria to match to people. We have a job specification to use as a hollow shell and try and squeeze a spirited, creative and energy filled human being into it.

What if we just found fabulous people and deployed them to a strengths based role they could perform well at whilst then stretching their capabilities and building ambition and dreams?  Or someone not ambitious in career climbing but diligent, applied and committed to being the best <insert role description> there is?

Why do we select based on cold statement-based specifications that owe more to a to-do list than a powerfully framed proposition? A proposition that gets the best out of people and makes an impact that is strong, true and purposeful in achieving an organisation’s core purpose?

Start with the human and allot their talents to the work we need doing.

I’ve said it before that I believe ALL work stems from a problem that needs solving.

How do we clean our house of dust? Someone invents a vacuum cleaner (their role) and impact = cleaner homes.

How do we produce vacuum cleaners to that design? Engineers, supply chain experts, store/line retail, repair, customer service, warranty underwriters, marketing. All there to support the product innovator who is solving a problem. I could go on but you get my groove; I hope.

So when we select people we could say: “here’s a group of problems we need help in solving; how would you do it, what do you bring to solve these problems and how creatively can you go about applying yourself to do this work?”  Please describe, draw, act out, whatever.  Just let us into your heart and mind to see if that’s what you’re looking for.

Getting a feel for the person in the team, role, business etc. is also critical. Are they just the diverse hire to spark the change needed and get this team buzzing in your Chelsea office? Or a lone wolf legend who will patrol your building in Carshalton at night and keep it secure. Or a diligent, applied person with the perfect IQ and stamina to work on your factory line in Chesterfield. Or a prospectively keen but grossly under qualified young person ideal for your panel beating garage in Colwyn Bay. Or a working parent able to put in amazing determination in your Coleraine call centre between midnight and 4am to service your Pac-Asian customers.

I still feel too many people “end up with” a job they feel is crap. It’s the money that keeps them there and they put up with being a square peg in an uncomfortably misshapen hole.

So let’s re-centre on strengths and that potential Gareth Jones talked about. And let’s look at those jobs we need people to be good at because being good at it is fulfilling. And yes some jobs – like the night watchman patrolling – require a certain kind of strength. Not just anyone who can read, add up, is handy in a bar fight and can wear a yellow vest. Someone who realises that protecting assets is a valuable role and they’re not bottom of anything. Making a workplace secure is important and it takes a certain kind of someone to do that role.

No clever relabelling either. Executive VP of Perimeter Security may look good on the badge but really?

I want us to look at people and their energy, nerdish tendencies and intellect and match them to a role / work and look at stretch as an option.

Work is changing A LOT.
In California, on some university campuses, we already have robot patrolmen. So if these so called low-end jobs are going the way of automation and robotics, what and how do we get the previous people incumbents into something else?

It’s a challenge we should crack but we’re lazy in believing our current methods are best.

Human potential really matters.  No more looking back as a predictor of looking forward.  No more foolish interview techniques which are just parodies of lame processes.

However you get there, focus on people’s APPS.



sense of Purpose;


Now where’s the psychometric that looks like a dart board..?


Blog by Perry Timms for myHRcareers
Perry is a HR/OD super pro, disrupting the HR industry in an amazing number of ways.
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Perry Timms, speaks at myHRcareers networking event in Central London, powered by Veran Performance.