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BRINGING INNOVATIVE THINKERS INTO THE FOLD
‘Innovative’ is a buzz word in recruiting lately, but where are the ‘innovative’ people and why aren’t you interviewing them?
If you noticed that a lot of the people you have been interviewing over the past few months or years for employment with your company have been, well, average, you may want to take a look at your screening metrics, interviewing procedures, and the company’s hiring philosophies. ‘Innovative’ is a buzz word in recruiting lately, but where are the ‘innovative’ people and why aren’t you interviewing them? Altering Hiring Metrics One of the reasons you may not be interviewing the candidates you want is because the hiring system you’re using may be outdated or unsuitable. You may need to look at what makes a candidate worthy of that phone interview or face-to-face meeting. While innovative candidates may not be suitable for all positions within a company, having a few criteria that are ‘outside the norm’ for judging potential employees will give you more leeway during the screening process. Begin by going over your current hiring procedures and ways that you screen potential employees. Ask these questions: --> Where can improvements be made? --> What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current hiring system? --> How can the system be improved? --> What types of candidates respond to the current hiring system? After asking these questions, find ways to change or alter them in order to attract candidates that may have something new to offer your company. Understanding the Innovative Candidate There are many definitions for innovative people. They have been called brilliant, creative, off the cuff, and people who think outside the box. For many companies, hiring innovative people is a great idea, but when it comes time to interview and choose innovative candidates, many recruiters can’t tell the difference between innovative and inexperienced. By defining what your company is looking for when hiring creative types, you will be able to make this distinction faster and easier. When going through a pile of resumes, you should: --> Separate resumes that are unlike the standard resumes --> Give resumes of those who are fresh from college a second glance to see if they have had experiences that match the job description --> Carefully read personal statements to see what candidates write about themselves --> Call references to learn more about candidates that seem interesting Innovative candidates may have travelled more often than other candidates, may have won awards or interned with well known companies, may have worked for younger companies, or they may have other job experiences that are unusual. Increasing Innovative Candidate Response Candidates that have the ability to be creative, and can use problem solving and critical thinking skills are not going to be attracted to conservative companies that don’t appear to embrace new methodologies or taking on new projects. In your initial job description, you need to include the company’s need to hire those who ‘think outside the box’. This will attract the types of candidates you will want to interview. But it doesn’t stop with a job description. If you don’t mention that your company is looking for new voices or a fresh take on an old product in the interview, innovative candidates will walk. Even after you hire a candidate, you should mention how much the company embraces new ideas and change. Other ways to improve candidate response includes: --> Expressing an appreciation for innovation in the workplace on the corporate web site --> Cite past innovations your company has achieved or those who have worked for the company in postings and on the web site --> Create ‘brand recognition’ for your company. This means writing about your company in a positive way, and speaking about how creative the company has been in handling certain situations, in development of new products, etc. --> Mention innovative people who have made a difference in an industry or field and explain you are looking for similar people on the web page or job description Determining if the Company Wants Change As part of your recruiting metrics, you should determine if your company wants to hire more people who are creative and full of ideas. Ask management what they are looking for when filling vacant positions. In some cases, many in management may want a person who has fresh ideas, while others just want to maintain the status quo. While neither position is wrong, make sure you are on the same page with those who will be working with the new hire. In some cases, innovative people may be suited for some positions, but not for others. Ask which positions need to be filled with innovative people. This will help you when the time comes to write a job description. Many times, hiring outside the company will help in acquiring more creative individuals. If your company is hesitant to do so, suggest taking referrals from other creative people in the company. This will alleviate some of the hesitation surrounding outside hiring. While you should still conduct internal interviews, don’t exclude the possibility of finding an innovator from the outside. Also tap into employee referrals from managers. Many times, managers meet potential candidates but don’t send their names on to you because they are unsure which types of people the company is recruiting. Make it known to managers and others that you welcome individuals who don’t exactly ‘fit the mold’. Interviewing Innovative Candidates Altering your interviewing metrics may help when interviewing those who are different from the rest of the pack. Choosing a different set of questions, asking more about past experiences on and off the job, and asking questions about what the candidate hopes to achieve from working for the company are great ways to get to know the candidate. Questions should be: --> Conversational instead of Q and A type questions --> Open-ended to allow candidates to explain what they mean --> Include scenarios that candidates will be able to elaborate on with past work experiences --> Not limited to work, questions about education, hobbies, ect. This line of questioning will allow you to see how passionate a candidate can be about their career. This is you chance to see how the candidate thinks, how they handle themselves under pressure, and how much they want the position by watching the way they talk, react to questions, and by listening to what they have to say. Retaining Innovative Employees One of the best ways you can retain an employee is to follow up with retention managers to make sure the new hire is allowed to be creative on the job. If not, chances are the new hire will become a former employee. While recruiters have little say in the actual day-to-day tasks of employees, you can still make recommendations to managers and others in order to help retain those you recently hired. Conclusion In a perfect workplace, there would be a diverse group of people that worked together to improve goods and services offered by a company. While some companies come close to this ideal, many do not. As a recruiter, you have the ability to bring in different candidates that will be able to offer a company a lot in terms of loyalty, ideas, and expertise. While you may not need to adjust hiring metrics too much, allowing for small changes could make the difference between hiring someone capable and hiring someone brilliant.