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Workplace Engagement InsightsLatest Employee Engagement NewsWorkplace EngagementGood Hiring Decisions Aren’t about Hiring People Who Are “Like You”

Good Hiring Decisions Aren’t about Hiring People Who Are “Like You”

Watch this (in my opinion, flawed) TED Talk about hiring the “scrapper” when choosing a candidate for a role:

After watching this TED Talk, I was most disturbed that this speaker was seemingly driven by so much anecdotal evidence. Because she had to fight for everything in life, she appears to have a bias to interview and hire those just like her.

I find that this is the most common mistake in business today. Thinking that someone like you will have a similar drive to succeed and will fit in with your workplace could be the worst hire you ever make. 

The scientific process of hiring for fit is a much more successful strategy. If we don’t know what the personality profile of successful people in our company looks like – if we don’t know what type is the best fit for a certain role and test for it as a part of the hiring process – then we are letting personal bias creep in to the hiring process and more often than not we are going to make a bad call.

So, Is This Speaker “Wrong”? 

I don’t think so – not exactly. She is discussing a shared characteristic of successful people and of leaders who are great at building a committed team: a trait called “resilience”. 

So, is the “scrapper” resilient? Maybe, but it is also possible that they are fundamentally flawed. 

Is the “silver spoon” not resilient? Maybe, but they may also have worked their way through school and been successful because they were hard workers, resilient, and determined.

I find this type of advice to be of great concern to me. She is taking her own profile and projecting it on those she interviews.

When she cites Steve Jobs as a scrapper and a great hire she is also forgetting that he wasn’t capable of working for anyone other than himself. Unless he called all the shots, he wouldn’t play. Let’s not confuse success with being a great leader. Steve Jobs destroyed many very bright people. Steve Jobs destroyed personal relationships around him (unless the book and the movie got it all wrong!).

Let’s put a bit of structure into our hiring process and work to ensure that we are building teams with both diversity and the ability to fit with the job, with the team, the culture, and the boss. 


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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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