You have been here many times. You interview several candidates and each sounds terrific. Your gut tells you that each wouldn’t thrive in your position but you are confused as to who would and who wouldn’t thrive.
Allow me to share a recruiting secret that has helped our firm successfully place several thousand candidates with our clients over the last quarter century. It is a simple mental paradigm that helps us weed through a group of great sounding candidates and get to the winning hires for our clients.
When several candidates interview well and sound great we ask : “Who are the Practitioners and who are the Theorists ?”
Characteristics of Theorists:
- Openly very knowledgeable – you likely won’t need to prompt them for information
- Quick on their feet, verbally intelligent . Sound very smart (and usually are)
- In-charge of facts and statistics
- Probably enjoys the interview process and talking shop
- Superficial on details of their specific role and what they accomplished
- They know how to tell you “what you want to hear”
- References are usually co-workers
Characteristics of the Practitioner:
- Very knowledgeable – however you may need to prompt them during interview for information
- Sound smart and are smart
- Can talk easily about challenges, how they overcame them and results . Frequently do not have statistics committed to memory
- Probably do not enjoy the interviewing process and talking shop
- Precise on their specific role of what they accomplished
- They will tell you how things really are
- References are usually their past managers and bosses
Why is this critical to the hiring process ?
The Theorists can talk the talk – and talk it very well but come up short on walking the walk. The Practitioner may come up a little short on talking the talk (without some prompting), but will walk the walk for you. This is why knowing what to look for is so important!
Here is our formula
- It is very important to learn and talk about their specific accomplishments
- Drill down on the specifics such as sales went from ________ to ______X 2. Ask for some verification. Talk is cheap , facts are not!
- Drill down on their specific role
- Ask about what issues that they ran into
- Ask how they overcame the issues
- Ask for specifics, engage in a discussion on details
- Spend time with references learning about candidate’s actual accomplishments and does it match candidate’s claims
Theorists are often “corporate survivors” not the true “organizational drivers” . They have hung around for years and learned a lot. They are great at articulating facts but lack the ability to make the crucial decisions that lead to success. Usually they lack leadership skills.
Practitioners are the “organizational drivers”. They are the employees who get things done. They take action. In football analogy think of Bill Belichick as a role model for Practitioner and think of TV football analyst or sports writer as a role model Theorist. I would hire Bill Belichick to run my team even though Peter King of Sports Illustrated may do a better job of articulating a team’s history.
Take Away: Hire the Practitioner – they have made the successful decisions, built the well-run departments and can tell you how if you know how to ask them.
CEO / Automotive Personnel, LLC
Twitter : @DonJasensky
Automotive Personnel, LLC is in its 26th year finding the people who drive the automotive industry !