Arniston Spa Hotel

The risk of just interviewing prospective employees

Let’s assume that you are a production company and you have to buy a new machine to increase production capacity in the business. The entry level price for this machine is about R350000 and increases through a variety of models to about R700000. As the production Manager, your job is not just to source, select and buy the machine, but to convince your boss or EXCO or the Board why they need to spend this amount of money. You need to be able to show that the price, production capacity, physical machine life, competitiveness, labour support, maintenance, services, depreciation, etc. can all be offset by the output capacity of this new machine and that it therefore can be viewed as an asset and not just as an expense. Intuitively I hope you agree that the capital expenditure decision needed to make the investment decision to buy this machine will not be taken lightly and that the required effort, investigation and research will be conducted to ensure that an appropriate choice is exercised. In terms of levels of authority this level of expenditure will usually require at least two EXCO or Board signatures.

The same cannot always be said when it comes to making investment decisions in people. Many times, the decision making for choosing talent is left at very junior levels in the business and insufficient attention is given to whether this “human resource” will actually meet the output requirements of the job. I also find that many companies rely heavily on the Interview as the primary decision making source. Of course, it is good to interview a candidate, but interviewing per se should not count for more than 15% of your talent decision making. We define talent as someone that has both the Capability and Competence to appropriately execute the required job tasks and deliver the required results. So, use the other 85% of your talent decision approach to focus on Capability or complexity assessment (usually done via psychometrics and the type of selection tool will be a function of requiring context about personality, values alignment etc.) and Competence assessment (focusing on the required knowledge, skills, attitude & behaviour). The latter can be assessed by a variety of tools like formal knowledge testing, practical skills deployment, business/job simulations, roleplaying etc).

Bottom-line, make sure that you at least double the invest-ment time for properly assessing that a future employee will meet your requirements than the effort you will spend on selecting a new machine. Because if you don’t, and you employ someone with either a poor attitude or a lack of know-how, there’s unfortunately no “return policy” with such a purchase and it will turn out to cost you dearly.