Would you hire someone that says they can do everything?

You can do everything? umm… right… Ever been in that situation? On the receiving end of a candidate that overstates what they can do. Maybe they can and maybe it’s all fluff, but how do you find out before hiring them?

As a recruitment agency we see this all the time and it’s our job to weed out those that actually can do what they say as opposed to those that believe that they can do it. We really like interviewing people (you have to love your job!) and regularly come across those that undersell their skills and those that really oversell what they have to offer and have the ego to match it. You also have to put into context what the role is; if it’s a sales role you would like the person to demonstrate some ability in their chosen career and what better way to do it then selling themselves, as the actual product, to you.

To find out if the person is all fluff or the real deal, some straight forward steps should include:

  • Looking at your role before even advertising it. What we mean by this is, looking at the technical skills required, having a position description with key competencies outlined to assess applications and having input from decision makers on the type of person that would fit the role
  • Advertising the role well – this is where you should not oversell the company or the role – take time to write it and be clear on what you want candidates to address
  • Develop a list of questions for screening and then for interviewing. The first may be a checklist against competencies stated in a resume or letter (remember that resumes can be just as inflated) and the second, your behavioural (example) based questions to find out real examples of a candidates knowledge/experience. It is also a good idea, and not often done, to create a range of acceptable answers to each question – if a candidate runs off on a tangent, they may be avoiding answering the actual question – bring it back to what you need in the answer
  • There is a really big difference between the word “can do” and “have done”  – depending on what you need or are happy to train, assess their experience carefully
  • When a candidate is describing their experience or projects, listen out for the word “WE”. What you may find is that a lot of people talk about tasks that they undertook as part of a team rather than the actual component that they worked on. Find out what their contribution was – sometimes you may be surprised
  • When a candidate states blatantly that they have done it all, come back to your competency list and walk them through it – don’t take their word for it. Start with the first competency, ask about what they know/did, ask for an example and mark off if they actually can do it or do know it
  • Good reference checks. There are reference checks and then there are reference checks. You have already made the effort to write out checklists and formulate specific interview questions so why not have specific questions for the reference check? Look again at what competencies you need answered, look at notes that you took about projects – was their uncertainty about their involvement? Now is the time to find out what they do and don’t know and find out about team fit, personality and other traits to help with your decision

People are people and sometimes you follow all of these processes and the new employee doesn’t work out – it just happens. Feel safe though in the knowledge that if you follow these processes well, you are increasing your chances of hiring some really great new employees that will add value to your business as they have actually proven the skills and experience that you are seeking for your role.

If a candidate states to you that they can do everything – pull out your new selection tools and find out. If they actually can, and have a great attitude, you may be onto a winner!

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