Know Your Candidate
Do any of the following statements describe your school or organization?
- You use generic recruitment
marketing materials that are not position-specific
- You receive "too many" responses
for some positions and not enough for other job-types. (i.e. lots of English
teachers, but hardly any Math or Science teachers)
- You receive applications/resumes
from numerous candidates that, while they meet the minimum technical
requirements for the position, "just don't seem like a good fit" when they are
- A significant number of otherwise
promising candidates mysteriously drop out of the process after an on-sight or
telephone interview (i.e. after they actually have human contact with a member
of your team).
- You are experiencing high turnover
of new hires within the first year in the position.
- Your recruitment managers spend
too much time combing through resumes of people who never make it past initial
If one or more of these statements describe your school organization, you are
probably not practicing Habit #2 of Highly Effective Recruiting which is Know
Your Candidate. The 6 statements above are really just symptoms of underlying
challenges in correctly identifying exactly who you want to work in your
organization. Too many recruitment professionals make the mistake of assuming
their target candidate pool is anyone who meets the minimum hard requirements
(like certification, years of experience, educational attainment, etc.). This
has profoundly negative implications for the entire recruitment process. Casting
a very wide net for anyone who meets the basic requirements has the potential of
overwhelming your recruitment team with so many candidates; they miss out on
some the best ones. Wasting staff time processing candidates who will really
never be hired robs you of the ability to give individual attention to more
Some of you may be saying, "We like a lot of resumes because we want to make
sure we don't 'miss' any good candidates." Organizations that recruit by such
flawed logic argue that because they do such a thorough job of screening and
vetting candidates, its o.k. and expected that most candidates who enter the
application process won't really have a shot at being hired. At best these
schools are spending way too much staff time and effort screening and filtering
through too many applicants. Wouldn't it be far better to have a much smaller
base of candidates, but who are almost all potentially hirable AND a good fit
with the mission, culture and systems of your school?
How do you get to "Know Your Candidate"?
1. Develop detailed candidate profiles by job-type
Break down your hiring needs into distinct projects/efforts by job-type and
develop a detailed profile of your ideal candidate for each. Think about the
- Do English teachers generally read
the same magazines as math or science teachers?
- Do they pursue the same hobbies or
- Are they similar in terms of being
left-brain vs. right-brain in the way they think?
The answer is generally no. So why is it that we so often see job descriptions
and/or other generic recruitment materials that are used to recruit teachers of
all different subjects and often even non-instructional candidates? The answer
is that most recruiters don't make a serious effort to figure out who/what type
of person they seek for each different job-type. Though there are of course some
similarities between teachers of all subjects, in general, Science/Math types
are very different people than English, Arts and Social Studies teachers.
Further, business operations and management candidates are most often very
different than teachers and require an entirely different recruitment approach
and marketing message. So in sum, the first step to really knowing your
candidate is to break your recruitment effort down by job-type and spend some
time brainstorming and developing a detailed picture of the right candidate for
each job-type. If you simply do this and nothing else, you'll be ahead of many
of your competitors and on your way to building a much more focused, efficient
and effective recruitment effort.
2. Determine the soft skills/personality characteristics of your most AND least
effective employees and use this information to inform your screening and
The second and equally important step is to systematically address the question
of "who/what type of person really fits in and does well in my school
organization?" Specifically, you should:
- Develop a system of measuring the
organizational fit and personality characteristics of your existing staff
- Use the information gleaned to
inform who/what type of candidate you should be targeting. Personality tests
such as the Myers-Briggs can be very useful. You should be sure to try and get
the entire existing staff to take the test. (One easy way to do this is to make
the test a formal part of your final candidate screening or new employee intake
- Once you have the
personality/soft-skills data on your existing staff, examine the scoring of
those employees you consider most successful in your organizations AS WELL AS
those who are least effective and/or terminated for poor performance. It is
highly likely that you will find glaring differences in the personality
characteristics between your highest and lowest performing employees.
- Use this information to build a
profile of the "right" candidate in terms of personality and organizational fit.
This information should then be used to inform the development of recruitment
marketing materials, screening processes and in making final hiring choices when
you have multiple qualified candidates for the same position.
If you do not focus on exactly the type of candidate whom you want in each
position, including soft-skills and personality characteristics, your
recruitment efforts will remain unfocused and ineffective. In fact, if you
haven't first figured out in detail who you want to hire, you'll never be able
to practice our next topic, Habit 3:
. I will cover this and much more in the coming weeks. Until then,
happy (and effective) recruiting!