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Blog : Looking for the X factor


Looking for the X factor

By Jon Reed, Operations Director - talent toolbox

Reading about the return of the X Factor a couple of weeks ago started me thinking. Not about whether Louis, Tulisa, Kelly and Gary will be entertaining to watch; instead about selection. I wondered if  organisations could learn some lessons from their approach to spotting talent, assessing potential and coaching skills to achieve success (and invariably for that one lucky winner...  VIP passes to London's finest C list events).

It’s worth mentioning that I haven't had the pleasure of seeing the current series of X Factor... just to keep my cultured reputation intact (secretly I'm waiting for  The-only-way-is-strictly-learnpurple-has-talent-on-ice-factor, before I nail my flag to a reality TV mast).

The format, regardless of gaining me as a viewer or not, is impressive and the pure scale is not to be sniffed at.

Clearly the merits of panel interview work in X Factor just as well as they do in business. When recruiting here at learnpurple we ensure all applicants who get through our sifting mechanism (a well written one page CV with ten bullet points highlighting why they're the one for us) are welcomed to an interview with prospective colleagues, peers and even direct reports. It’s really important to us that a collective decision is made and the team can take ownership of the new recruit; ensuring they hit the ground running from day one.

At times, during interviews, it would sometimes be useful to have an eject button or a big red cross à la Britain's Got Talent. Recently, when interviewing candidates that didn't seem to be hitting the mark, I laughingly suggested a 'sign' for my interviewing colleagues to tell them I was less than enamoured and ready to wrap up the interview the power of a discreet pen tap on the desk can not be underestimated. Of course this was only after giving the applicant every opportunity to impress.

Before we begin to recruit, we put even more energy into scoping what we need from a new person and indeed where we are as a business. This is a great opportunity to get the whole team involved and also helps to see if any other members can step up and grow their role or change their focus.

Research has shown that we make decisions about people within ten seconds of meeting and this is why a panel interview (where different opinions and views can be discussed) are invaluable. We’ve always found it so and we also make a point of reaching definitive decisions on applicants as soon as the interview has finished; communicating next steps quickly (delays only cloud thinking).

When making recruitment decisions, knowledge really is power. Everyone's input from first and second interview is considered; along with the vital psychometric profile that gives us an indicator of motivations, suitability to team, culture and role. Using an iWAM psychometric test during recruitment can improve the selection of the right candidate by 40% - a figure not to be ignored..

Where we have a shortlist it's vital for us to view the final interview to a sales pitch. Selling us as a great place to work will ensure applicants step up to the plate with superhuman effort to sell themselves to us.

When decisions are hard or uncertain, the acid test question is always:

If this person called back tomorrow and said they had another job would you fight for them?

If it's a unanimous yes then they're the one!

And so the fun begins....

Do you interview by panel? What are your experiences of making group decisions?

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