Are HR professionals qualified to choose the best candidates?

by Chloe Taylor16 Oct 2014
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?


  • by Pondering 16/10/2014 11:52:15 AM

    Very interesting, but business needs HR, we provide much more than just being involved in the hiring process

  • by Megan 16/10/2014 11:59:34 AM

    What a ridiculous article. If HR aren't able to ascertain the business needs for the positions they are filling they are in the wrong role. However I must say, This year I have met countless 'HR Managers' who attained the position through nepotism and 'fulfill' the role with no HR education/training. Then wonder why all the people they hire are the wrong fit. My favourite quote from one of these 'professionals' this year was "there is just no talent out there, all people are shit and will just quit for no reason". Any business with talented Human Resource professionals will have the right employees for the right roles and should have a positive and productive work environment.

  • by Catherine Cahill 16/10/2014 12:09:56 PM

    It is absolutely essential that HR seeks out, listens and responds to feedback from their organisation(s). Working out the criteria for recruiting someone should always be done collaboratively with the manager and team who the incumbent will work with.

    I often question the "essential skills" Managers provide me as part of their recruitment brief. Too frequently they include the same generalisations such as "excellent interpersonal / communications skill", when this may not be a genuine requirement of the role being recruited.

    Experienced recruiters are more than capable of making good judgement calls on the balance between technical skills and interpersonal skills that really matter in a particular role.

    (And just quietly, the last quoted comment in this article is simply unhelpful. Any anonymous person could say a similar thing about any occupation or role in any organisation! It provides no facts or detail, and does not allow any of us to understand why the statement is being made).

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