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Revealing Candidate’s Kryptonite & Superpower Means One Less Hiring Mistake
♪♪ I'll keep you by my side with my superhuman might…KRYPTONITE! ♪♪

By Sherrie Haynie

We've all been there: you hear the annoying jingle on the radio and now the song is stuck in your head all day. Working with a recent client, the song “Kryptonite” (by the band Three Doors Down) was on repeat in my head. Fortunately, I like the song so it wasn’t too bad.

The client was trying to select the best candidate for a job. They’d narrowed the candidates to two highly qualified people, Jane and Jill (names changed).

Jane seemed perfect for the job.

Her background, experience and credentials all met the requirements. Jane impressed the interviewers during the interview process, and her technical background, her positive attitude and the level of confidence she exhibited were great qualities.

Jill was also a qualified candidate, however her technical expertise didn’t seem as extensive as Jane’s, so the interviewers was leaning towards hiring Jane.

Where did I come in? My role was to identify the organization’s long term needs and provide psychological assessment data and expert interpretation to help guide the hiring decision.

While the position required technical expertise, the organization had an entrepreneurial culture and were experiencing rapid growth. In addition, one of the company’s weaknesses was lack of succession planning for future leaders. So the short-term goal was to hire for technical expertise but identify someone who would be a stellar leader in five years to support the organization’s rapid growth.

With this in mind, the data from the assessment turned out to be key in hiring the right person. Predictive characteristics were identified based on each candidate’s unique combinations of psychological attributes. For Jane, it showed us that she was highly likely to be rigid and adverse to change.

On the other hand, the data revealed Jill was very likely to have exceptional creative potential, be extremely flexible and exhibit a high level empathy. This combination of characteristics is rare for those in this specialized technical industry. But it’s extremely valuable for leaders in entrepreneurial environments.

The full service I provided was to administer the psychological assessment, provide expert interpretation and create tailored probing questions based on the insights gleaned from the data. The questions guided the interview process to probe deeper into Jane and Jill’s past experience to learn how each might perform in specific scenarios. The questions were also used with candidate’s employment references (validating the predictions about the way each of the candidates worked). This tailored selection approach helped identify the best candidate to meet the specific short and long term needs of the organization.

It also allowed the hiring manager to feel confident about selecting Jill, who was (originally) the second choice originally based on initial interviews, credentials and experience.

Using psychological assessment data, we essentially discovered Jane's kryptonite: her potential to be rigid and adverse to change.

These characteristics wouldn’t have helped a future leader supporting rapid growth in an entrepreneurial environment. At the same time, we discovered Jill's superpowers: a rare combination of high empathy, creativity and flexibility in a highly technical field.

With this extra layer of insight from the psychological assessment data, the organization was able to avoid a costly hiring mistake.

And I was finally able to get that song out of my head.



According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Report and the World Economic Forum: Future of Jobs, human-only traits will be extremely valued in the future world of work. Traits such as flexibility, creativity, imagination, ethics and complex problem solving will be more important in the future, not less.

Despite recognizing the unique skills needed in the future, 49% of organizations shared they do not have a plan to recruit for or cultivate these human-only skills. While this impacts roles throughout an organization, it is especially critical for leadership roles.

Sherrie Haynie will be co-presenting alongside Justin Arneson at PeopleFWD 2018. They will share their insights, research and leadership expertise looking at the traits of the top 3% of leaders and will reveal what differentiates the top 3% of leaders from their counterparts. Of particular relevance to an organization’s success, they will review the types of leadership performance these human-only characteristics predict.

This insightful session will shed light on how you can recruit for, and develop the critical human-only skills necessary, for future leaders.