November 2016

Behavioural Recruiting: Uncovering The Human Element

Arte Nathan once said, “You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.

And he should know.

Arte, President of Strategic Development Worldwide, boasts over three decades in HR and people development. He is recognised as an innovator in high-volume recruitment and hiring, labour relations, and training and development.

The focus on behaviour and habits as part of the hiring process has never been more important, or more overlooked, by leaders and managers.

What do most people look for when they recruit?

They focus on:behavioural recruiting techniques

1. Qualifications.
2. Experience.
3. Industry and function background.

Let’s unpack that idea:

Our new candidate for Finance Manager at ABC Manufacturing is Bill. Bill has worked in the manufacturing sector for 15 years. He has a lot of experience in finance within manufacturing. He was Assistant Finance Manager at DEF Manufacturing for 4 years. He has a BCom Finance and is currently studying an MBA currently. At GHI Foods, he worked in and then led creditors and debtors for 4 years. Before that he articled at a big 5 consultancy (JKL) before moving across to the manufacturing sector.

He sounds perfect: He is qualified, experienced and has relevant industry knowledge. Hire him!

Bill starts work, management is thrilled …

However, management didn’t know that Bill is arrogant, dictatorial, task-oriented, brusque, impatient, by-the-book and “my way or the highway”.

What next?

Staff morale plummets. People leave. Innovation shrivels up and dies as “Hitler” throws the rule book around and stifles free-flowing ideas and conversation.

And Bill? Well, Bill gets angry and becomes even more dictatorial. He’ll show them! And he does.

The staff vote with their feet and opt for the door.

This little tale gets played out over and over again in business today. It’s almost a cliché. Yet, this problem is often overlooked for one simple reason.

People think they are good judges of character.

They get a vibe.

They can sense when a candidate will fit or not.

How good are you at assessing character after knowing someone for an hour?

In terms of behaviours, one of the most common areas for mistakes is in sales.

The bizarre, old-fashioned recruiting method of hiring them and throwing them in to see if they drown, is still common-place. If they don’t drown, make them swim as hard as possible.

The recruitment, training, management and exiting costs are a) mind boggling and b) normal.



Without sales, there is no business.

Why would you use guesswork as a recruitment strategy?sales behavioural recruiting

Ironically, because of behaviour.

Sales people and sales managers are famous for their gift of the gab, their intuition and the ability to make it up as they go along.

What they are less famous for, however, is data analysis, problem-solving, attention to detail and following a well-researched methodology to do anything – especially recruiting.

We’ve asked sales managers and sales directors in the past why they tolerate the high cost of staff turnover.

Their answer?

“It’s just the way it is.”

So, they bump up the numbers of recruits to compensate for the high rate of attrition.

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

We need to understand the basic behavioural requirements for a role and then test for those behaviours.

For example, in a sales role, you want; confidence (not arrogance); a relationship-building orientation; a drive to achieve and meet targets; attention to detail, process and formality. Therefore, we can assume that if we hire people who don’t possess these behavioural qualities we can expect their sales effort to fail in the shorter or longer term.

We can stop the wrong people joining the company, and save them, and ourselves, a whole lot of time and money.

What if we already have a large sales force?

Then it makes sense to ‘weed’ the sales team as a gardener would weed a lawn. Sure, the lawn looks okay with weeds … but boy it looks great without them. And the time and stress we save!

Most companies tolerate poor performance from a third of their team, average from another third and good to excellent figures from the final third?

Imagine, for a moment, how your company figures would look if we replaced the bottom third with average to good sales people?

What would happen if we developed the best average people based on their behavioural potential and turned them into great sales people?

What would happen if we took your best people and built on their strengths to create superstars?

The answer is easy: Sales productivity could be improved by 15 – 30%.

For most companies, this should be manna from heaven.

If your business needs help with hiring the right people or to ‘weed the lawn’, we’d love to help.
Contact us on 083 308 7627 and we’ll do our best to help you.

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