How to Hire Successfully in the 21st Century

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In an HBR article titled The Big Idea: 21st-Century Talent Spotting, Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, senior advisor at global executives search firm Egon Zehnder and the author of “It’s Not the How or the What but the Who???, says the first era of talent spotting leaders were done based on their physical abilities. For instance, if you wanted to fight a war, you looked for the fittest and strongest people.

In the second era, potential leaders were judged based on their intelligence, experience, and past performance. In the third era, talent was evaluated according to specific skills and personality traits.

According to Claudio, we are now at the dawn of a fourth era.

And to deal with the ever more uncertain and volatile business conditions, the criteria have changed again and the question now is not whether employees have the right skills but whether they have the potential to learn new ones. Claudio believes that potential can be gauged through in-depth interviews and by mining candidates’ personal histories for specific evidence of five critical character traits — selflessness, curiosity, insight, the ability to engage others, and dogged determination.

As an advocate and firm believer of hiring the RIGHT people, I could not agree more with Claudio.

The hiring model that I have always upheld consists of the following 4 foundation elements: Cultural Fit, Attitude, Aptitude and Personality.

Claudio’s reference to selflessness, curiosity, ability to engage others all seem to allude to the Aptitude of the potential candidate.

In simple terms, Aptitude is the ability to learn. The aptitude to learn should not be confined to just learning new skills or knowledge. It includes the ability to connect with people; to establish strong relationships with co-workers and peers; to learn and function as a team; and to adapt to ever-changing situations.

People who possess the aptitude to learn are naturally curious and are continually in a learning mode. They usually possess a high level of personal mastery, are inquisitive and feel they are a part of the organisation.

Successful hiring in today’s ever changing world is no longer as straight-forward as selecting and hiring the best candidate with the required skills, qualifications and experience. Team or organizational success is no longer about having the best people on-board. It is about having the RIGHT people on-board.

So the next time you hire for your organization or your team, make sure you dig deep to uncover the aptitude of the candidate.

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August 18, 2015

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