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Predictive Index: Hiring Known

I recently finished the great memoir, Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, in which he described – in hilarious detail – the personality traits he expects in a sous chef.

“Like the Capo of a crime family or the director of the CIA, I could look across the room at [my sous chef], raise an eyebrow, maybe make an imperceptible move with my chin and the thing – whatever the thing was at the time – would be done.”

Bourdain said a sous chef in his kitchen needed to have mastery of cooking skills, the chef’s implicit and explicit trust and the ability to get stuff done. He must get inside Bourdain’s head and do – without ever being told – exactly what the chef wanted. It must be done swiftly, expertly, and without the need for the chef follow up. Bourdain described his sous chef as his doppelganger.

On the other hand, Bourdain’s line cooks required a very different set of traits.

“Line cooking – the real business of preparing the food you eat – is more about consistency. About mindless, unvarying repetition. The same series of tasks performed over and over and over again in exactly the same way. The last thing a chef wants in a line cook is an innovator, somebody with ideas of his own who is going to mess around with the chef’s recipes and presentations. Chefs require blind, near-fanatical loyalty, a strong back and an automaton-like consistency under battlefield conditions.”

Because Bourdain knew the exact personality traits that made a sous chef or a line cook successful in his kitchen, he had a tremendous advantage. With the right individuals in those roles, the kitchen ran like clockwork. If one of the new hires possessed different traits, the restaurant stumbled or failed.

At other places in the book, Bourdain described the traits of a successful (and unsuccessful) restauranteur, an expediter, a server and other roles in a kitchen. Why? Because each of them had a unique role in the operation, and it was important to make sure the people he hired had the right personality traits for the job.

While Bourdain was hiring professionals for high end restaurants in New York City, knowing similar specifics of your business, the professional roles in an organization and what personality traits best fit those roles is critically important for all companies, whether it’s McDonald’s, Amazon or a not-for-profit.

Most of the time, leaders are stuck with a resume, cover letter and a brief interview of a stranger. How would the hiring manager or interview team know if the interviewee has the traits that will align with the role, the management team, the businesses’ core values and goals, or if she will work well with the rest of the team?

Soliciting how a candidate has behaved in the past can help predict how they will behave in the future.  Behavioral interviewing, as it is called, gives the hiring person or team some insight into these questions.  With traditional interviewing, it takes hours of dialogue to try to uncover the traits embedded in the conversation.  The interviewers are charged with teasing apart the words and phrases of the candidate’s experiences, which are filled with inherent, though inadvertent, biases. Then interviewers have to analyze the individual’s traits against the demands of the role, which is extremely difficult to do with any sort of accuracy.

The effort is two parts, and both are equally important.  Recruiters must understand the person and the role.  Without this critical information, the hiring person or team only has a broad interpretation. In other words: They are merely guessing.  Predictive Index (PI) removes the guess work.

All too often recruiting is subjective despite hiring manager’s best intention.  To accelerate hiring excellence and remove bias and guesswork, SHIFT’s clients leverage PI, a scientifically validated Talent Optimization methodology, to gain keen insight into a candidate’s predictive success.  To make a smart hire, the behaviors and cognitive demands of the role must first be carefully mapped. The PI Job Assessment does this, allowing key stakeholders to quickly and easily define role requirements.  Concurrently, the PI Behavioral Assessment collects data on candidates and, when mapped together, recruiters are able to easily evaluate the fit of a candidate to the role.  Fit/gap analysis.

While Anthony Bourdain was able to witfully articulate what he wanted in a line cook and sous chef, that didn’t translate into hiring success. In fact, as a result of numerous failures, he began to take his team with him from restaurant to restaurant.  I suspect this tactic did not earn him a loving place in the heart of the restauranteurs who were suddenly short staffed, but it did accomplish deploying an exceptional team at his new establishment.

There is no need to strip an existing organization of a top-performing team. Rather, SHIFT can help leaders open their arms to an ever-growing 2020 talent pool and the enormous opportunity of developing their people and teams with intention.  With SHIFT, strategically build your next team.  Ready, aim, hire.


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