Credentials Are Not The Best Predictor of High Performance

Managers often hire a person on their team on the basis of a person’s credentials. While it may be one of the most common indicators, it is not the best indicator of a person’s likelihood to achieve high performance. And I do not have to argue that achieving high performance is your goal as a manager, right?

Mark Horstman of Manager Tools said “interviewing is a black box.” It is one of those areas where we, as managers, are expected to know or be good at, but were never taught how to interview nor were given any training.

There is no one right way to do this. However, the next worse option is to conduct behavioral interviews. It stems from the notion that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior. What that means is because you did it in the past, you are most likely to do it again in the future.

Again, bringing the focus on results and high performance, here are a few examples of what to look for:

  1. Bringing in a project on time and in budget
  2. Meeting deadlines
  3. Handled multiple projects simultaneously

These are what every manager wants, right? But because we were not taught how to interview nor told what to look for, we just use the same gauge our manager used for us (who were not taught how to interview as well) — which are credentials:

  1. University or college you went to
  2. Honors like suma cum laude
  3. Other certifications
  4. What companies you worked for

See the difference? The first set of identifiers do not discriminate. It does not look at superficial data. It enables you to know if the person can do the job you are hiring him for. The second set gives you shallow facts. It does not indicate if the person is equipped with the skills you need for the job.

Let us say you have a candidate who worked at multinational company. The fact that he listed it in his resume does not mean he is any good at all. Remember, managers were never taught how to manage.  Most just learned on the job. For all you know the manager at that company made a mistake at hiring him and wanted him out. But the manager does not know how to fire as well (another topic for another discussion).

You want results and high performance. If you do not ask the right questions, you will not feel at ease in hiring that person. Ask the right ones. Use behavioral interview questions to determine what they did in the past. Stop using credentials as the basis of your hiring.

PS: this precludes that you have to know what you are looking for in the candidate. As the manager, you do not just wing it nor go by your gut feeling. It involves you knowing what it takes to be successful in that job you are hiring for.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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