Advice from Sherlock Holmes On How to Assess Technical and Team Skills

Advice from Sherlock Holmes On How to Assess Technical and Team Skills

Last week on my “Almost Daily Recruiting Show” one caller suggested competency-based interviewing was the solution to all interviewing problems. I begged to differ. I contended that competency or behavioral interviewing wasn’t effective unless it was tied to a good understanding of the performance objectives of the job and the underlying environment. The point made was that just about everyone can give examples of when they used a competency like results-oriented, effective communication skills or strong collaboration ability, but if these aren’t directly related to the actual requirements of the job itself, a proper assessment is not possible.

Another problem discussed was how to determine if someone is overqualified for a job. This is pretty easy to figure out by asking candidates to provide examples of accomplishments most comparable to the critical performance objectives of the job. If these accomplishments aren’t within the past 3-4 years, it could indicate the person is no longer interested in doing this type of work. For example, a person who’s currently a director managing managers might not still be motivated to coach and develop individual contributors despite being great at it 10 years ago. In these cases, I would contend the person is overqualified or would not find the work intrinsically motivating.

Here’s What Sherlock Holmes Has to Say About It

Even better for handling these types of interviewing problems including how to assess all types of technical and “soft skills” is by understanding the types of teams the person has been assigned to or has managed.

The Sherlock Holmes’ deductive interviewing technique addresses all of these problems. This simple demo lesson describes how to use this technique to help non-technical people assess technical competency. It involves finding out why and how a person got assigned to different technical projects and what happened once the project was completed. Behind this is the idea that those with the strongest technical skills get assigned to stretch and important projects once they’ve proven themselves with the pattern continuing as long as the person hones these skills. It’s pretty obvious that the projects a person is regularly assigned is an accurate assessment of their competency since it’s made by those who work with the person.

The same concept can be used to assess team skills. During the interview ask what types of teams the person has been assigned, find out their roles on these teams and how this role changed on subsequent teams. You’ll quickly discover that the strongest team players have a pattern of getting assigned to important cross-functional teams which increase in importance over time. The graphic from our mobile application is a good summary of the questions to ask to figure this out.

You’ll need to ask these questions for the person’s past few jobs to fully understand the types of teams the person has been on, how the person’s role has changed, and the types of people the candidate tends to work with most often. In addition, you’ll also have a strong sense of the person’s technical skills by fully understanding why the person was assigned to each of these teams.

Rank the candidate high on teams skills if the types of teams the person has been assigned are reasonably comparable to the types of teams the person will likely be working on in the new role. This will be uncovered in the job analysis conducted before the requisition is approved.

Our approach to preparing an effective performance-based job analysis starts by asking the hiring manager, “What does the person in this role need to do to be successful?” This usually results in a 6-8 performance objectives describing the tasks and the expected results. Make sure a few of these objectives focus on team skills by finding out what teams the person will be assigned and his/her expected role.

While a structured behavioral interview is an effective tool for minimizing bias, it is far less effective for assessing actual on-the-job performance, fit and motivation unless the assessment is made based on a detailed job analysis. However, when combined with Sherlock Holmes’ deductive interviewing techniques assessment accuracy soars. And when it comes to team skills, this is one trait that should never be compromised.

Elementary, my dear Watson. 

Posted in: Passive Candidate Recruiting, Talent Strategy

Leave a Comment (0) ↓