Recruitment is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the health and wealth of an organisation. It will take years to remedy a bad recruitment, especially at senior levels, because mutual trust, positive professional relationships, and collegial rapport can be broken in an instance by just one rotten apple. Destructive work culture always spreads from the first bad hire.
How does digital check-up help in identifying the most suitable candidate?
A classic recruitment process involves CV vetting, and during the second or third round of interview, include on-site or remote aptitude tests. These tests can either focus on hard skills, such as arithmetic, logic, language or soft skills such as project management, time and task management, people management and personality. Many of these tests are well-designed, producing surprisingly good results, while overcoming the candidate’s natural tendency to provide ‘the answers wanted by the testers‘.
However, there are aspects of a personality skills or personality that cannot be captured by the tests, simply because these are artificial settings where you cannot fully catch a glimpse of the candidate’s true potentials. Not everyone thrives in test situations, so some people may be good candidates but do not get to show it, while others may perform very well and it could just be a mirage. Of course, stress management is a good quality to have, but if your work environment is constantly stressful, it is the fault of the management, not the candidate.
This is where digital check-up comes in: social media and websites are places where people feel like they don’t have to put up appearances and the internet often make people feel anonymous.
Personality and skill-set footprints left behind across the digital landscape can allow the recruiter to better understand the person behind the CV.
1. How are the person’s language skills?
No one is perfectly bilingual or multi-lingual. Employers have to recognise this and be honest and upfront about the realistic level of a certain language desired for the job.
For communications roles, this is even more poignant: anyone who can write professionally in one language will not be able to do so in another language.
Many people often claim to speak or write English at a professional level. In reality, this skill is the most sought-after outside of English-speaking countries. Many non-English speakers “sound” like they can speak it well, but the level of written English leaves a lot to be desired.
In a digital check-up, social media posts help reveal clues about a candidate’s linguistic abilities, like wrong verb forms, faulty prepositions or odd placement of adverbs.
This can already inform you about the ability of that person to perform in that specific language. Even when it is the person’s mother tongue.
If you consistently spot spelling mistakes, this shows a tendency to be rash or careless.
2. Can the person be succinct?
The ability to say in just a sentence or two about a subject-matter shows that the person has fully mastered the topic. If someone goes on and on about something, it means that they have just learnt about it and haven’t quite grasped it. Often, people think by going on a verbal diarrhea shows they are experts. It is very much to the contrary.
A digital check-up, online articles, comments, reviews, social media posts or previous assignments will reveal whether the candidate is able to be succinct: to-the-point, yet comprehensive.
There is a huge difference between someone who knows and someone who pretends to know.
Succinctness also reveals that the person is sharp in their thoughts and insightful when verbalising them.
3. Is the person a good project manager?
A CV may tell you a candidate has had 20 years of experience in project management. That doesn’t say anything about whether she or he is a good project manager.
Good project managers are extremely well-organised. They have the ability to keep an overview and at the same time know where the pitfalls in the details might be. They have impeccable time management skills. They understand the value and power of delegation: they divide the work fairly and reward hard work.
In a digital check-up, you look for traces of past projects done by the candidate.
Tip: This could include the roadmap, the progress report, the team and role breakdown, or the final report. They are mostly available on the project website publicly. If not, ask for the candidate to produce a PowerPoint presentation of a past project. Whether the presentation shows any awareness of time management, proper roadmapping, team management and role distribution says a lot about this person as a project manager.
4. Is the person a good people manager?
A CV may tell you someone has been a people manager for 10 or 20 years, but that really doesn’t mean that person has ever been a good one.
Good managers promote their team members. Bad managers bury them to promote themselves.
A good manager always become friends with his former team members because the latter feel empowered and appreciated. Most likely, they will always leave an appreciative note on his/her LinkedIn profile. Likewise, good managers will always be willing to express their appreciation of former team members by leaving positive reviews on their profile. If someone who has ever been a manager but never received a few heartfelt reviews, that is a huge red flag.
5. Is the person honest?
Honesty requires courage. An honest person is also someone who is courageous enough to accept their own weaknesses, failures and mistakes.
An employer requires the employee to be honest, about the work done, the timeframe it was done and the quality of the work. Dishonest personnel takes a lot of time and energy to manage, plus they tend to shift the blame to someone else. This severely affects the work atmosphere and team unity.
In a digital check-up, the positions written in their CV should really match their real positions. Those who lie in their CV are most likely those who will not be able to make genuine contributions to the work.
6. Is the person empathetic?
Empathy is a prerequisite for any recruits. Selfish people are never empathetic, because they only care about their own needs. Most likely, this includes the company and his team members.
Has the person ever shown care or offered help to anyone in need? Have they offered condolences to someone who lost a family member or friend?
Social media posts show a lot about a person’s capacity to care for others. If you don’t find any empathy shown, this is a red flag.
7. Is the person collaborative?
Likewise, reviews can reveal whether the person is someone who likes to go solo or works together as a team.
Non-collaborative persons often think they are better than others.
Sometimes this comes from their family upbringing, other times it comes from the lack of self-confidence or an underlying awareness that they are actually not as good as how they pretend to be to the outside world.
Are there any heartfelt thanks from ex-colleagues on LinkedIn about their collaboration? How genuine do those LinkedIn reviews sound? Were there concrete examples of how the relationships went? No reviews or non-genuine reviews is highly suspicious.
8. Is the person appreciative?
Work relationships are healthy when colleagues help and support one another. It should always be an equal two-way process, not one person always relying on others to fulfill their tasks or one person taking on a higher step in the hierarchy because of their self-assumed superiority.
You only want mutually respectful, mutually helpful, equally skilled and appreciative people to form your team. Arrogance is an instant hand grenade you can drop on your team to completely destroy any good collaborations you have built up over the years.
Reviews are a great way to find out whether a person is someone who appreciates small things others do for them, or whether they assume it’s their god-given right.
In a digital check-up, you can find reviews by this person on TripAdvisor or Google Maps, which can reveal a lot about the candidate’s personality.
It’s not whether the person has written a bad review or a good review that you should judge. It’s how that person wrote the review: Was it aimed to destroy, complain, give constructive feedback or help that business grow? The intention reveals how that person views others in relation to themselves.
9. Does the person strive for a good work-life balance?
When a person says she or he is married to work: that is a very bad sign.
You can only excel in your work, if you have other pursuits and interests in life. This gives you the mental space, inspirations and creativity necessary to rethink how you can improve your work. Also, being able to do well in your work require emotional stability. Humans derive emotional stability from their community: family, friends, neighbours, relatives.
Without spending time on other pursuits and on quality time with loved ones, this shows someone who is unable to be mentally and emotionally fulfilled to be a good worker or a good colleague. An emotionally-stable employee is also mentally sharper, often more insightful and strategic.
In a digital check-up, we look for traces of sports club membership, artistic pursuits, travels, time with family, restaurant reviews, party photos etc. Using the location data of where a person lives, can help you find images and posts on Instagram, Google Maps, Facebook etc. Happy, mentally-balanced people make much better employees than workaholics.
10. Advice to companies
Modern HR recruitment procedures have become rather robotic and mechanical. Recruiters receive a checklist of skill sets and experiences and they vet through CVs based on keywords. Unfortunately this eliminates a lot of good candidates who either did not use those keywords or use other professional terms to describe themselves. An experienced and conscientious recruiter reads through every CV and every letter of motivation. As laborious as it can be, this is the best way to get the person your organisation needs.
What I have learnt all these years working with HR managers and recruiters, is that the best candidate is not someone who has all the industry knowledge or all the hard skills.
Industry knowledge or experience in a certain type or size of organisation can be learnt. Many hard skills can also be learnt.
The best candidate is a team player who is emotionally well-balanced, respectful, willing to learn, thoughtful and insightful, willing to cooperate and assist, and has the potential to grow.
Instead of seeking a ‘ready-made’ candidate, companies should invest in training. Good personality, great attitude and sharpness of mind cannot be taught. These are the rare candidates you should poach, treasure and keep.
A note about online privacy
Digital experts who conduct such check-ups for recruiters should always respect the candidates’ privacy.
The criteria is to look for hints about the candidates’ personality traits, soft skills and some hard skills. It is not meant to invade their personal life. Any results you find pertaining to the person’s family situation and personal relationships, sexual preferences or practices, or any other private matters should NOT be passed on to the recruiters.
The open social media or other accounts and tracks left by the candidates should likewise NOT be shared with the recruiters. Only screenshots of text without images can be used as examples to highlight your findings.
Are you interested in knowing more about digital recruitment check-ups? If so, please leave me a comment below or send me a message.