How to agree what to look for in your next hire

How to agree what to look for in your next hire

Even in a world of hiring automation, our human critical judgement is still needed to work out what ‘great’ looks like in a particular role. But too many judgements also make it harder to reach a consensus.

That’s why, at The Talent Stack, we created the Competency Stack: a manual algorithm that works as an objective hiring tool, to help you and your team work out exactly what you need to look for in your ideal hire.

Candidate’s track record: look to the future, not the past

Hirers are often obsessed by a candidate’s past – how many years’ experience they have, what positions they’ve held, what companies they’ve worked for. Although great for LinkedIn, their CV in fact says little about what they have actually achieved, how they work best, what they’re great at in their role and their key motivational drivers at work.

In early stage companies, when the role will likely pivot within 12 months anyway, hirers should be particularly wary about taking candidates’ previous experience with anything more than a pinch of salt. Instead, focus on the future and consider what will be necessary for candidates to thrive within your company.

Building the Competency Stack

So, if the CV isn’t a great marker of predicting future success, it’s vitally important to establish what is. From personal motivations and behavioural mindset to a candidate’s strengths and track record of achievements, the Competency Stack defines what a great match looks like for a particular role in a digestible and data-led way.

Building a list of desired competencies from scratch can feel like looking into a black hole. To solve this, articulating the competencies according to four main categories: knowledge-based, relationship-based, vision-based and action-based: helps capture attributes from each of the important dimensions for success.

For example, you may be looking for a candidate who has proved they can win deals in a certain sector where multiple stakeholders have different agendas (knowledge-based). Someone who is assertive, but is also willing to listen and adapt to others’ needs (relationship-based). A candidate whose mind is always set to continuous improvement mode and constantly strives for better market fit (vision-based). A person who is battle-hardened, tenacious and never gives up on a fight (action-based).

By breaking down competencies into what candidates know, how they collaborate, how they think and how they act, you have a better chance of knowing exactly what relevant data you are looking for and can define the right match accordingly.

Analysing the Competency Stack

Of course, in a list of 20+ competencies, it’s tempting to think candidates have to be stellar at all of them, so for the Competency Stack to work in real life, it’s necessary to agree the ‘must haves’ and the ‘willing to trade offs’.

Those involved with interviewing the candidates should rank the list to create six highlighted ‘must-haves’. These priorities form the focus of the assessment process. Interviewers score candidates according to the presence and magnitude of each highly relevant competency – grading them 1–4 to remove the “sit on the fence” option – and use this yardstick to help make an objective and evidence-based hiring decision.

In effect, the Competency Stack is an internal, data-led scorecard that aligns the views of the whole team. Alongside the ‘externally facing’ role description, designed to appeal to your ideal candidate, your hiring team can come up with an objective hiring formula that is authentically yours and brings you closer to the hiring holy grail: the ability to make the right hire every time.