Are HR professionals qualified to choose the best candidates?

The relevance of HR’s role in the recruitment process has been called into question.

The relevance of HR’s role in the recruitment process has been called into question.

In a recent Linkedin article, Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks, accused HR of hindering organisations' access to the top of the “quality hierarchy” by failing to employ the “geeks and loners” who, according to Stevens, are usually the “best and brightest” candidates.

Stevens suggested that candidates should lie to HR recruiters about their social skills and belief in their organisation’s values.

Steve Shepherd, employment market analyst at Randstad Asia Pacific, advised against Stevens’ suggestion that candidates should lie in job interviews.

“It would be like lying on a first date,” Shepherd told HC. “It doesn’t bode well for a long-term commitment!”

Shepherd said that employers could potentially take disciplinary action against candidates who take Stevens’s advice if their probationary period revealed that their social skills were completely fabricated in their interview.

Arguably, the “geeks and loners” depicted by Stevens are caricatures of extreme stereotypes.

“HR’s role is to understand the deep needs of the business, which includes finding the correct personalities to fit the employee dynamic,” said Shepherd.

“A lot of highly successful innovators have had strong social skills which have allowed them to exercise influence,” he continued, referring to Richard Branson’s famous charisma as an example. “Steve Jobs had a unique leadership style, but he wasn’t necessarily a ‘lone wolf'.”

Shepherd denied Stevens’ suggestion that HR would automatically reject someone who admitted to preferring solitary work.

“HR evaluates candidates based on the competencies needed for the job,” he said. “Social skills are generally needed but their importance depends on the degree of socialising that the job entails. You obviously wouldn’t put a lone wolf in a collaborative team.”

While Shepherd defended HR’s role in the hiring process, many Linkedin users agreed with Stevens’ argument.

One user referred to HR as an “unaccountable department,” and said “HR does not understand the business process - or even their own work for that matter. They seem to make rules for other departments to follow, yet do not follow their own rules. Say we get rid of the 85%+ of incompetent HR persons so the company and employees can focus on what matters… If things are not in a clear colour by numbers or a tick box system HR cannot understand it - as they clearly can't think outside of the box.” 

It seems HR cannot always please everyone.

How significant do you think HR’s role in recruitment is?

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