When it comes to talent acquisition, “DNA” is more than just something your science teacher droned on about in high school. Dimensions of Necessary Attributes (DNA) accompany every potential candidate, many of which are overlooked in the hiring process. Much of this disconnect is attributed to traditional recruiting processes where recruiters and hiring managers focus solely on skill and shy away from measuring other crucial characteristics of a candidate.

These key dimensions – Skill, Attitude, Competency, and Culture – make up the real building blocks of a Candidate’s DNA. Recruiters and hiring managers must understand the importance of these attributes and how they relate to the flaws with common recruiting practices in order to improve the odds of a candidate’s long-term success.

To consider these key dimensions, we must first understand the basics of what they mean:

• Skills/Experience – Does the candidate have the training/education/skills to do the job?
• Attitude – Has the candidate shown they want to do the job?
• Competency – Does the candidate have the ability/behaviors to do the job?
• Culture Fit – Does the candidate do the job in a way that fits the company?

Each of these four attributes MUST be considered. Skill, Attitude, Competency and Culture all go hand in hand. While skill determines a fit for the function, competency determines a fit for the job, attitude a fit for the career, and culture a fit for the company.

How do we know what to look for?

Addressing these dimensions begins with really understanding the job itself. First, identify the must-have skills of the role. This does not equate to “years of experience.” Too often we are looking for something we think we need (years) versus what the potential candidate should have truly learned in those years – years IS NOT a skill! Second, identify the most important competencies and behaviors the candidate will need in order to be successful in the role.

Many skills are actually a competency that relies on a combination of behavior and knowledge. A common example is communication. Many people refer to their strong communication skills, yet in order to communicate effectively one must first thoroughly understand best practices that accompany communication and not simply be able to speak well.

When it comes to assessing attitude, keep in mind what has worked for the organization. What are the prevailing attitudes from top performers? What about bottom performers? Are those with a good attitude caring? Persistent? Objective? Are those with poor attitudes condescending? Placating? Overwhelming? Take these traits into consideration when considering someone new. Decide what kind of attitude you’d like to see more of at your organization.

Last, but certainly not least, evaluate culture by defining the key cultural aspects and values of the organization. Decide what your company’s core values are and which aspects of a candidate would be a good fit for your company culture. If your organization’s top ideology is, for instance, the ability to be flexible, incorporate this into the interview process.
How do we measure these dimensions?

Most interviewing processes do not focus on a complete understanding of an individual’s multiple dimensions, but instead are heavily driven by numbers (for instance, a proven experience at exceeding sales quotas). This heavy focus on skill in the interview process does not take into account more transcendent qualities such as coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation, temperament, and other competencies, which can lead to new hires being fired.

A definitive must-have to properly assess all four candidate dimensions is consistency. Be consistent in what you are measuring and who is doing the measuring. This requires the interviewers to ask questions that focus on the SAME skills, competencies, attitudes and cultural items – creating the ability to compare results item by item. Seems easy enough, right?

What exactly do you ask during the interview to cover all of these items?

Candidate selection should only occur after fully understanding all of the candidate’s attributes. Interviewing techniques are supposed to highlight “soft skills,” but fall short in real-world application. Most Recruiters are still conditioned to focus on skill only.

Ask behavioral-based questions that cover more than just basic skill set. Ask a candidate what they accomplished and how they accomplished it in order to assess skill and competency. To gain understanding of attitude and culture, ask the candidate how they handled a situation and why they handled it that way.
Why do so many Recruiters and Hiring Managers miss the mark?

Think about position intake sessions with your hiring manager – what is the focus? Are you accounting for Skill, Attitude, Competency and Culture? If we were honest we would all admit that most of these intake sessions focus only on the skills component of the job – those things already evident on the job description.

To be effective, candidate selection should only occur after fully understanding each key component of someone’s DNA. Too often we are rushed by a need-to-fill immediacy, resulting in ignored character flaws or problematic candidates. Much of this comes down to rudimentary imperfections in interviewing procedures.

Gaining full insight improves a candidate’s likelihood of long-term success within an organization. Thorough assessment of Skill, Competency, Culture, and Attitude will save time and resources in the long-run, increasing an organization’s return on investment and reducing the risk of a failure. Consistency in identifying these key dimensions that make up a candidate’s DNA will be key to successful placements.


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