Tel: 0345 644 8955 (TPS Registered)

Recruitment tactics in 2014: Looking beyond skills to a human-led approach

The job market has changed and so too have the attitudes of candidates and employers.

The recession has brought about a dramatic change that had been bubbling away under the surface, and as is the case in chaotic circumstances, accelerated the change that was inevitable.

These changes are described by author Linda Gratton in her book “The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here” using the ‘VUCA’ model:

  • Volatility – where things change fast but not in a predictable trend or repeatable pattern
  • Uncertainty – where major ‘disruptive’ changes occur frequently
  • Complexity — where there are numerous difficult-to-understand causes and mitigating factors involved in a problem
  • Ambiguity – where the causes and the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” behind the things that are happening are hazy with the potential for misreads and mixed meanings.

How does your approach to selecting new recruits need to adapt to deal with all of these ‘VUCA’ factors that are here to stay according to Gratton?

Traditionally, most people who are recruiting focus on a candidate’s skills and past experience. Yet in the VUCA world we now live in, skills and competencies are less flexible and applicable than motivations and attitude.

When you walk past a bakers and admire the beautiful wedding cake in the window, do you buy it simply because it looks nice, or do you want to know what’s inside? The traditional competency-based approach to recruitment measures one dimension of a person - their skills. And because it’s formulaic and easy for a candidate to craft and practise stories in response to the usual ‘STAR’ questions, those who perform well in the interview tend to be hired.

How often have you felt you’ve made the perfect hiring decision only to feel bewildered when “the other” side of the person shows up for work? To avoid this happening, it is important to look beyond skills and delve deeper into the motivations that drive the individual. What is going on unconsciously that makes them approach their work in certain ways? Does their attitude to work fit in with the culture – and changes - in your organisation?

A simple and extremely effective place to start digging deeper into a candidate’s mind-set is to ask them: “What is important to you in your work – what has to be there for you?”

Then, write down word for word exactly what they say and use their exact words when asking follow up questions. These are their “criteria” or “values” about their work, and if they use the word “Success” and you change it to “Achievement” you may inadvertently be treading on their values and lose their trust.

[[image:537 width:150,height:100,size:portrait]]

Along with a few carefully researched LAB Profile questions, their response will tell you a lot about the candidate. What means something to them, the culture they would thrive in, how adaptable they are to change in a VUCA environment, whether they will fit into the team and, importantly, if you can match their expectations short and longer term.

Katherine Wiid is a Language and Behavioural (LAB) profile expert who helps organisations to ensure that they hire – and maintain – the best talent. She will be speaking at this year’s Whitehill Pelham’s Cambridge HR Summit to detail how easily individual motivations can be understood if you know what to ask and listen for. You can find out more at

Got any HR queries?

Contact us