I don't remember the name of the movie but I remember the scene – the heroine is writing a list to describe her dream guy and all the great qualities she’s looking for; his eye colour, hair colour, height, his hobbies and his favourite foods. Once the list is completed, she takes the piece of paper and burns it while praying that the ‘perfect’ man from the list will come along.
A little later he arrives and has all the qualities she was looking for, but something doesn't fit. In the end, she falls in love with someone else – someone who didn't have the right eye colour and who hates Chinese food.
Job descriptions are often the same – hiring managers with a wish list, looking for a perfect match. Like the heroine in the movie, we’re listing all those great qualities and ideal experience in our brief meeting with the manager, posting it online and praying for the universe to send us the perfect candidate.
What happens in reality is that we cannot find this dream candidate. They probably don’t exist. And if we stick rigidly to our wish-list we find after a few rounds of interviews that we can not find anyone that matches , and eventually, we realise the need to be more flexible.
"Must have" vs, "Nice to have"-
It's our job as recruiters to raise this flag to the hiring manager in the first discussion, to be honest and explain that ‘the perfect candidate’ is rarely out there. We need to find out which qualities or experiences are absolutely essential, and which ones are simply nice to have.
Our “must have” list are the factors the hiring manager will not compromise on. The nice-to-haves are the things that are, well, nice to have but we can also live without (or things that the candidate can learn in the role).
We need to be careful with this exercise.
In the past when I did interview workshops with hiring managers, I asked them to take the job description and circle all the must-have skills in red.
If the entire page is red at the end, they didn't do a very good job- there should be a balance. If you only look for the perfect “Mr. (Miss) right”, you’re probably missing out on other perfectly suitable candidates and may end up with no-one.
Finding true love-
Here are 5 questions to ask managers, to fully understand the must-have and nice-to-have split, and find true love:
1) Describe your best team member and explain what makes him or her successful.
2) If you could choose just 2 critical skills for this role, what would they be?
3) What experience, skills or tools, do you think you could train someone on?
4) What would make someone fail in this role?
5) Thinking about your current team – what’s missing? What do you want your new employee to bring to the team?
Like in the movie, in the past I’ve matched a candidate to a role who didn’t at first, appear to have the perfect profile. But they had other great skills and traits which worked well, they complemented the team, and the organisation and it ended up being a great love story :-)