When recruiting, learning of a candidates successes are important. However, learning of their failures can be even more insightful. More to the point, learning of the failures that lead them to those successes is important.
We hear so much about Corporate Culture and the importance of Cultural fit these days. The current fad is to seek out “Innovators” and “Outside the Box Thinkers”. However, these same hiring Managers end up judging candidates solely on the successful outcome of their endeavors. Anything less than a Nobel Prize winning result is viewed as a failure. Often times they’ll pass on a stellar candidate by saying, “they were not a good cultural fit.” Which begs the question, if your “culture” is made up of super-humans and over achievers, why is there an opening in the first place?
It’s kind of hard to use your company’s “creative/innovative” culture as a selling point when recruiting, if failure is not tolerated. The only way failure can be eliminated is if no one is attempting anything new (which is a failure in and of its self). Success is the result of hard work, dedication and a series of failures.
Understanding how a candidate arrived at a successful outcome is a better measure of “cultural fit”, than simply focusing on the outcome its self. What risks did they take? What mistakes did they make? What did they learn from the process?
Talking about successes is easy. Next time you are interviewing a candidate, try talking to them about their failures. I’m willing to bet that you’ll have a much more insightful and meaningful conversation.