Recruitment: It’s not just a numbers game

by HCA15 Jul 2013

Analysing time spent in positions and crunching the academic numbers of a candidate is one way to find your next employee, but is it always the best? Anthony K. Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball, doesn’t think so.

On a Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog-post, Tjan stated that the “softer” and more intrinsic values of candidates are often overlooked, with more and more focus poured into facts and figures. This skips the most important part of any candidate: attitude and persona.

Key HR Take-aways

So, if we aren’t looking at the numbers, what are we looking at? Here are some of the questions Tjan outlined to get the ball rolling, as well as HC’s take on them:

  • Do they talk more than listen? Confidence is important, but if a candidate is rabbiting on, you need to ask why. Are they self-important and obnoxious, or just a bit nervous?
  • What kind of energy do they have? It might sound a bit funny, but we all know people who give off good energy, and people who drain it. Chances are you want the former in your organisation.
  • An actor…or a reactor? Is this person likely to get defensive when presented with a challenge, or are they hungry to take it head on? Think about what works in your organisation.
  • Are they “sucking up”? Someone who goes out of their way to flatter you and your organisation with false praise indicates not only a lack of understanding of the organisation, but also an inability to be themselves. Of course, take into account the fact that interviews can be a daunting experience, and many people may relax and be more open in later meetings.
  • What have they been through? Endurance matters. While some may think the best course of action regarding those with financial problems in the past is to steer clear, the fact they are in front of you means they have guts and are determined to get through their darkest hours.
  • Would you go on a road-trip with them? More of a question to ask yourself than anything, but could you imagine spending a long drive with this person? It may say something about their potential in the organisation’s culture.
  • Are they self-aware? The greatest leaders can see their flaws. Being able to spot your weaknesses and address them honestly says a lot about a person, and how they will grow in your organisation.


  • by Carol Flavel 16/07/2013 9:17:52 AM

    Hi Carol,

    I thought you might be interested in having a read of this article. It's on those factors to look for when recruiting a new person.

    Cheers Lavinia

  • by Glenda May 16/07/2013 12:56:35 PM

    Great article. I love the idea of going on a road-trip with that person. However we must be alert to our gut-feel - we all have it, it's human, but listen to it and validate it with real evidence so you don't let your assumptions get in the way.

  • by Jenny Hanson 18/07/2013 3:52:36 PM

    Even with today's technology where you can just interview applicants online and don't require them to talk with you face to face, it's still important that you should know their personality using the right questions.

    This article is very useful especially to those who prefer online communication. I recently got my staff through Remote Staff using their free recruitment process (see: ), and although they have been screened, I still gave time to talk to them to know them better :)

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