When we’re hiring, why not invite candidates to actively demonstrate the core capabilities that our organisation, group, or team, needs?
Asides: How often do hiring managers know what core capabilities the organisation, group or team needs? How often are they capable of recognising and assessing candidates on those capabilities? And how aware are they of the impact the prevailing system conditions (the way the work works) has on a candidate’s ability to apply their capabilities, should they be hired?
We Want to See Jugglers Juggle
When we’re hiring e.g. coders, we’ll generally ask to see them write some code. When we’re hiring analysts we may ask to see them analyse something. When we hire testers, we’ll likely ask to see them test something. Etc..
The Antimatter Principle proposes that the core capability in all collaborative knowledge work is the capability to attend to folks’ needs. Which, by the way, implies the capability to discuss and more-or-less clearly identify those needs, as well as the capability to subsequently find effective ways to address those needs.
Under this premise, the ideal candidate would open the interview conversation with
“Hi there, what would you like to have happen, here and now, today?”
Or more directly/explicitly (at the risk of alienating the uninitiated hiring manager),
“Hi there, what needs do you have of this interview, that I might be able to attend to, here and now, today?”
To which the cooperative hiring manager might reply,
“Well, as we’re hiring for [e.g.] coders at the moment, I need to understand how capable you would be in that role if you joined us. Can you suggest some ways in which you might be able to address that need, here and now, today?”
Prompting and Reframing
I guess you’d say that the preceding dialogue is, however, most unlikely. Most candidates will not be seeking to understand the hiring manager’s needs, nor will they know how acceptable – or unacceptable – such an opening gambit might be. Much more likely, they’ll play safe and let the hiring manager lead them through the interview conversation.
So, until the world changes and conversations of the kind I’ve illustrated become the norm, the hiring manager may have to prompt the candidate, and reframe the conversation at the beginning, to open the door, so to speak. Here’s a modified opening exploring this approach:
“We believe that attending to folks’ needs is a core capability we absolutely have to hire for in all our candidates. I’d like to experience you demonstrating your capability in that area.”
“As we’re hiring for [e.g.] coders at the moment, I have a need to understand how capable you would be in that role if you joined us. Can you suggest some ways in which you might be able help me understand your coding abilities, here and now, today?”
If we focus explicitly on the capability to attend to folks’ needs, we might improve our chances of actually making job offers to candidates that have this capability. Surely this is the outcome we seek?
Recap for New Readers
The Antimatter Principle is “the only principle we need for becoming wildly effective at collaborative knowledge work.”
Stated simply, the Antimatter Principle says:
“Attend to folks’ needs.”
Over the years, I’ve blogged about a wide variety of the deep implications, and impacts, stemming from the application of this principle.
The Antimatter Principle ~ Think Different blog post
Wanna See Me Juggle? ~ Think Different blog post