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What Every Recruiter Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce

I was introduced to this great video clip by Malcolm Gladwell the other day. Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of ‘The Tipping Point’ and ‘Blink’. In this talk, he explains what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce.

As I watched it, I realized not only what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce but also what recruiters can learn from spaghetti sauce.

A core message (amongst many) in his presentation is the concept of ‘embracing the diversity of human beings‘.

He shares how back in the 70’s, spaghetti manufacturers like Ragu and Presto were all trying to make the ‘perfect spaghetti sauce’. What they failed to understand is that there is no ‘perfect spaghetti sauce’ because all of us have different tastes, likes, etc.

This core message applies to candidates. I think all too often organizations spend too much time and money trying to come up with a core brand image or theme of why individuals should work for their organization. They are trying to create ‘the perfect image’ which will entice everyone to want to work for their organization which as Malcom illustrates . . . is not possible.

With that said, I find most recruiters spent way too little time embracing the diversity of candidates and identifying and understanding what is truly important to a specific candidate and then communicating how their organization can (or cannot) meet those objectives/needs.

Outlined below are some simple questions you can ask (we embed these in our candidate pre-screen/interview process) to help identify a candidates true motives, needs, wants, concerns, etc.

The information gathered by asking these questions is critical for:

If you are not spending at least 5-10 minutes understanding ‘what type of spaghetti sauce they want or like’, your probability of luring top talent to your organization is greatly diminished.

The other point I believe recruiters can take from this video is that people (and in this case, hiring managers) often don’t know exactly what they want. Malcolm made this point by revealing that when interrogated about their spaghetti preferences, no one ever said ‘Extra Chunky’ and yet, what do you think is the most popular type of spaghetti sauce? That’s right – Extra Chunky! Often we, as recruiters and HR Managers, expect the hiring manager to tell us what type of candidate they’re seeking for a certain position. The truth is, most hiring managers don’t know! The better question to ask is, ‘What needs to get done?’

We all know that people with different sets of skills and different backgrounds can be successful in the same types of jobs, yet we continuously try to narrow the scope of candidates we review to the point that we are certainly passing up people who could be excellent. Too often the discussions between recruiter/HR manager and hiring manager focus on personality traits or soft skills instead of the business problems to be solved with the hiring of this new individual. The hiring manager will spend a lot of time talking about the fact that they want someone who is energetic, driven, dedicated, etc., etc…..sometimes to the point that they say, ‘I’ll know it when I see it!’ While personality traits are certainly part of the hiring process, in the end it’s all about results. Our job as recruiters/hr managers is to guide the hiring manager through their thought process to determine the necessary experience/skills the candidate needs in order to get the job done and then quantify each aspect so that we understand the level of expertise needed for each. Some sample questions we like to ask hiring managers include:

Working through these questions with the hiring manager helps all involved to get away from envisioning just one type of candidate (spaghetti sauce!) that can fill the position and be open to the fact that there may be several candidates from a variety of backgrounds who can get the job done (and maybe even bring some new perspective to the company!).

While the video clip of Malcolm is a little lengthy (18 minutes), I think it is a great one to watch!


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