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Jun 28, 2014
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by James

Hiring Without Interviewing? A Different Approach to Recruiting

Posted in Advanced Interviewing Techniques

Is it possible to hire someone without ever interviewing them?

Maybe not in a traditional corporate setting but it happens all the time in other industries for jobs with multi-million dollar salaries! In this article, we’ll explore what we can learn from these hiring practices and how we might apply this thinking to our world.

The Most Predictable Hiring Process In The World

What I’m about to suggest is something that I’ve believed in as a recruiting professional since I started my career.    It’s the holy grail of pipelining — something that companies try really hard to do, but rarely succeed.

A little background first — I’m a huge soccer fan. I played soccer in college and now that I’m all washed up, I spend a fair amount of my weekends watching English Premier League and Spanish La Liga matches on TV.   (I’m a Liverpool fan, by the way…GO REDS!)

The parallel that I’m going to draw here is that professional sports teams have one of the most successful hiring processes in the world but they actually do very little “interviewing” of the “candidates” per se. The activity that makes the acquisition of talent in professional sports so accurate and predictable is how they scout talent.    Let’s explore this further using soccer as an example.

When you see a player in the starting lineup on Saturday morning in England playing for Liverpool, that player didn’t get there through the typical blind interview process that most companies use. They don’t post a job for a tough-tackling, left-footed midfielder with blazing speed and a record of scoring goals — and then wait for resumes to fill up their inbox.   They take a much different approach.

Building a Bench of Talent…Literally

The average age of the starting lineup for Liverpool is roughly 24 but many of these players have been under the watchful eye of talent scouts since they were 8. Yes, I said 8.   8 is typically the first age that scouts will admit that they can begin to see the emergence of a world class soccer player.

Once they’ve been identified at a young age, the players will be invited to join the club’s youth division.    As they mature and improve, some players are invited to join a residential school where the students are groomed to play professional soccer. They practice twice per day, watch videos to learn the game at night and squeeze in their math and science in between.

Within these residential programs, players can be called up to the first team (or the reserves) or even transferred to another professional team who have been watching them closely as well. In exchange for this development, the clubs essentially own the rights to sell the player to another team. In this process of grooming players and watching them grow, the clubs meet their parents, they know who their friends are, they know their emotional state, identify the strengths and weaknesses of their game and closely monitor the physical condition of their bodies.

When it’s time for a team to “sell” a player or move them to the first team, they know every little thing about them. The club or team who is acquiring the player might have a meeting with the player,  but I would hardly call it an interview in the traditional sense. Almost all of the dialogue is between the player’s Agent or Representative and the team Management.

How Could This Work In Your World?

So why do professional teams invest millions of dollars in their new “employee” without actually interviewing them? The answer is simple.    They don’t have to.   They already invested the time scouting and tracking the top players, so they already know who is out there and how good they are.

Now besides a litany of privacy laws and restraining order possibilities…how could we translate this “no-interview-necessary hiring model” to the corporate or start-up world? How could we be youth talent scouts and hire people without the need for the rubber-stamping process that we typically go through as interviewers?

Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I scoped out a few ideas below.   I’m interested in what ideas or experiences that you have too so please leave them in the comments below:

1. Start Your Own Youth Talent Scouting Program

Get into your local primary and secondary schools and universities and start talking about your industry and your company. Find out from teachers which students have the most potential.  Invite those students to your company for a “field day” and give them a cool, age appropriate experience.

2. Start Your Own Pseudo-Residential Talent Academy

Consider starting a scholarship program for the brightest students who show the most interest in what you do and help pay their way through college in exchange for an internship and a 2 year commitment to join the organization post graduation. Or offer to pay their way through private school. Yes, you might make a hiring mistake a couple times or one of these students might leave the organization sooner than planned, but look past the “what ifs” and be bold here!

3. Create an Innovation or Problem Solving Community and Invite Students Into the Process

How can you keep tabs on the students in your “Talent Academy” who could potentially live all over the world? Answer — Launch an online social platform where you post tough questions and real business problems.   Ask the students to collaborate on the solutions. Offer prizes, money, gadgets, points within the ecosystem, etc. It’s a great way to keep your company top of mind and monitor who is engaging and solving problems. Here are some examples of companies who make open innovation platforms possible.

4. Engage Parents In the Scouting Process Early

There’s nothing a parent wants more than to have a great job lined up for their child when they graduate.   It’s what most parents are doing 7 days a week…trying to groom their child to be a productive member of society. So why not invite them into the network as well where they can get company information, see how their child is engaging and provide feedback on the direction of the program. Parents have a ton of influence over the decisions that students make and could help make your talent hub a success!

5. Reward Students for Growth

Why not monitor your academy students’ grades? Or take note of their community involvement or a learning vacation that they went on? This type of involvement helps you create a stronger profile on each of your “Prospects” and keeps them engaged when you reward them with movie tickets, your products, scholarships, etc – not just for grades…but for growing.

So what do you think?   Doable?

It’s certainly a lot of work, but wouldn’t you agree that this method should result in a more committed, predictable hire with faster on boarding times?

Of course this won’t work for all positions, but what about roles that are really critical to your organization and in short supply?  Like programmers, engineers, scientists, etc.

Or what about for diverse groups of people who are in short supply as well, like women and minorities in science?

I guess you could keep stealing people from your competitors and going through traditional channels, but why not build some serious company loyalty by starting to become an employer of choice for young students as early as possible?

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