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Hiring Exceptional Employees Through Behavioral Science


My friend, business partner and fellow LABUR co-founder, Darrin Lang, recently wrote about how hard it is to make great hires. And I couldn’t agree more. Making a great hire – someone who is going to be loyal and perform out of passion and shared goals with a company – is not an easy find.

The same is true for great leaders.

A team rises or falls by its leaders. If a leader is too busy to communicate, they are too busy to be an effective leader. Delegation and trust are huge qualities to look for in any hire, but most especially in a leader. And, I firmly believe in the adage that a ‘fish rots from the head.’ Meaning, if the leader has not properly set the course, success for the team is unlikely.

Making great hires is closely tied to the leadership representing the company and conducting the interviews, and we oftentimes forget these leaders are only making a few hires a year. They are not professional interviewers, nor do they always know what they’re looking for before they sit down with someone. So, they wing it, and six months down the road they have an employee they don’t know what to do with and a position that still needs to be filled.

You have to hire smarter.

The Human Domain

There are countless interview methodologies out there – STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) – and different coined terms – EQ (Emotional Intelligence), but it all boils down to this: In an interview, your mission is to determine who the person is. What motivates them? What do they already know? What can they be taught? Are they willing to learn? Who are they and will they get along with everyone else already working here?

At LABUR, we call this “LABURin2itive.” It’s part intuition, part data points we collect.

By drawing on this proprietary data, and with an acute attention to the less measurable human component and soft skill factors, we source talent for our clients using real-time metrics that match candidates with projects that align with their unique attributes, not just their skill set.

In our industry, not enough people are tapping into these perceptions to help make great hires. And in the human domain, you have to think human.

Behavioral Science

In addition to the value-based approach to hiring and interviewing, which we boil into LABURin2itive, it is also important to landmark actionable behavior.

A key way to measure loyalty, or how much respect and emphasis people are putting into a relationship with you – especially in a position of hiring – is response time.

For instance, a key first benchmark for professionals interested in consulting for LABUR is their timeliness to complete initial documentation for us, one part being a reference sheet. Their response time to this alone indicates future behavior. Right off the bat, we know what a person is going to be like to work with down the road. It tells us the value they are placing in the relationship with us and what their priorities are. It also indicates the level of respect they are placing in the relationship. When people respond in a timely manner, it tells us they understand our purpose.

There is no right or wrong, but soft data points can be captured and stored, or they can be ignored.

Honing in on people points – also referred to as soft skills, behavior and emotional intelligence – is key to hiring today. Without it, we’d simply be matching bullet points in a job description to bullet points on a resume.