Halloween is a great time for kids and a chance to let the ‘spooky side’ have a play, usually with kids dressing up going from house to house looking for treats, which they happily consume in a matter of seconds afterwards. But what can kids trick or treating teach us about hiring? Suprisingly a lot!
Firstly, a bit of background: My son is 10, he has the Autism-based condition called Aspergers Syndrome, which means his social interaction skills are much lower than the average child, his ability to concentrate on only a certain area of interest to him far outweighs the rest and his frankness of talk leads to some interesting observations. One Halloween, whilst all the other kids were dressed up in all sorts of ghoulish costume, my son refused. He could not see the point of dressing up as something fake. We managed to get him to wear a toy hard hat and his t-shirt with a digger on it and suggested he be a digger driver. This lasted all of 20 minutes when the hat was tossed aside. Later, some other children asked who he was dressed as and why he didn’t dress up. His answer?: “I am who I am supposed to be”. Frank. To the point, and utterly, utterly true.
So what about kids and hiring? Well, look at it – they go from house to house looking for the thing they want – usually lollies and choccies. They don’t wait at their house to have lollies and choccies brought to them, but go out finding them. What a great lesson! If you are waiting around for a top candidate to come into your office, it won’t happen. Go out there and make yourself known. Be active on the social media sites and network where these candidates will be. Use who you know to point you in the right direction and get on the phone and get in contact with top candidates. Simply get out of the office and get in front of these candidates. Pumpkin-shaped bucket is optional.
Now, back to my son. The frankness of his reply is a great lesson – don’t offer platitudes. Don’t beat around the bush. What are you saying to a potential candidate and why will be the difference between grabbing them and losing them. Be spot on with what you are saying: “I’m contacting you because I have seen your work, am impressed and would like to discuss you coming to join us”. If you are directly contacting a candidate, make it all about them. Don’t go for the ‘oh, we may have some roles if you are interested’ wishy-washy statement. That’s a great way to lose them. Be frank, be upfront. Be my son!
Another point is that observing the kids having fun and interacting away from school showed a clear insight that taking people away from a more formalised structure allows them to be themselves. When these children are in school it is all very formal, with pictures of principals on the wall (and in our case crucifixes and Mary also adorn the walls). They interact, but within the confines of the school rules. Outside of that environment, they are able to be themselves and be a lot more open and playful. This is a great lesson when interviewing (and one I am a great advocate for): get out of the office. Hold an interview in a cafe, or a restaurant…heck, even a park! Get away from the formality of the office environment and allow the candidate to be relaxed. This in turn will allow you to observe the candidate in a more fitting and relaxed space, and judgements can often be better made by this observation as to cultural and team fit. Something of which should be high on your list of requirements.
These are just three lessons we can gain from my experiences with Halloween. What about you? Have you seen things that can translate across to the way we hire? Even the way we conduct business. Love to hear them!