I’ve always been fascinated by intelligence and generally enjoy the company of people far smarter than me. This is probably a healthy trait for someone in business. If we can assemble diverse and effective talented people into a team, we’ll achieve far more than if we try to run a top-down enterprise where the boss is the only person with any brains.
However, intelligence, in the form of raw brain-power, is by no means a clear validator and indicator of success. Many of the brightest people in the world (with IQs in the stratosphere) have ended up in menial jobs or prison because they could not adapt, communicate, or relate to ordinary people. Others have thrived, though their success may not be measured in conventional materialistic metrics.
(I know personally two super-geniuses. Their IQs are so high that you would need to fill a small city of 30,000 or even a bigger one of 100,000 to find someone as bright as them. One writes restaurant reviews in Tulsa, and the other lives in a rent-controlled apartment in Vanier, probably Ottawa’s lowest average income neighbourhood, and gets around on the city bus.
(With their introductions, I’ve been invited to a 700-member closed Facebook hjgh IQ group. Really, my IQ isn’t that high. But I guess it helps to know a few geniuses to gain admission to the group.)
Nevertheless, when our business hires or contracts with employees, we have a bias in favour of intelligence, coupled with assessment of individual’s specialized abilities for the work, and the potential employee/contractor’s personal relationship skills. We use a variety of working tests and evaluation tools to get around the “send a resume, attend an interview” hiring model.
More recently, I’ve tested another enhancement of this concept. We are seeking a new publisher to replace the retiring current publisher in North Carolina. We used a variety of services, including the really effective timetohire.com resource for discovering pure commission sales reps, to gather interested candidates, and I ended up with about 30 inquiries, and a shorter list of 12 potential short-list finalists.
Instead of spending hours interviewing and testing them, I devised a challenging assignment. I described the general work scope, provided some background data, and gave the potential candidates access to any specific information they needed. Then I offered them $100 to complete a work plan on how they would handle the job, while outlining their expectations and requirements to proceed. I explained the compensation would, in part, cover the extra effort they would need to apply to be successful at this initiative.
Three candidates responded with thoughtful answers, worthy of the compensation. We’ll now go through the final selection process with confidence in their ability to think and come up with their own solutions (and communicate effectively with others.)
I can’t say with 100 per cent confidence that this recruiting modification will be helpful, but you may see similarities to the compensation models offered for design/build proposals, where significant creativity and effort is required by the short-list finalists. It is unfair to ask “maybe” candidates to put exceptional effort into a project without some level of compensation, and I think it is fair that some of the ideas from the candidate(s) who don’t get the job can be applied in the business, as long as they are paid for their efforts.
Maybe we can benefit from up-ending some of our traditional practices, and pay a little up-front for careful thought and sincere effort. We may not attract perfection, but I sense our results will be much better than the raw-herd hiring mentality.