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One of the ways in which Merriam-Webster defines the term “blueprint” is “a detailed plan of something to be done.” If you’ve ever tried to find the right person for a role, you know how difficult that can be, and job descriptions often fall short of really getting at what is important to the essence of the role.
Why do we use blueprints?
When all is stripped away, don’t we use blueprints to ensure that we get what we want? You wouldn’t start an important project like building your next home without a blueprint nor should you start an important project like hiring your next superstar without a blueprint. After all, if you think about it, your next hire could be far more valuable than your house.
Here are seven tried and true reasons to use an Ideal Candidate BlueprintTM:
When things are not clearly aligned, it’s very difficult to efficiently move forward. One of the most common mistakes we see in the interview process is that hiring stakeholders are not aligned. Stakeholders assume they are aligned on the important aspects of the position, but they haven’t taken the time to clearly articulate and agree on how a candidate will be evaluated. Creating an ideal candidate blueprint encourages alignment of all the stakeholders.
Not only should stakeholders be aligned, they should be aligned on the right things. Most effective blueprints include, at least:
• attributes (based on what the role needs and cultural fit)
There are a lot of different formats for candidate blueprints, so pick one that you think will work for your situation and get going with it. Almost any blueprint is better than not having one at all. Creating a blueprint aligns stakeholders on the right things – the things that will best enable organizational success.
- Effective interviewing
Once an ideal candidate blueprint is created, then an interview blueprint can be created. Interview blueprints enable all interviewers to judge the candidate on common criteria. We’ve seen hundreds of examples of people interviewing candidates with nothing more than personal opinion and preference. We’ve seen people interview candidates for the wrong position entirely. We’ve seen candidates dismissed by interviewers for not having the “right” type of personal mobile device! The candidate wasn’t even asked why they had that particular type of phone, and the phone had nothing to do with the job… seriously. A blueprint minimizes emotion and personal preference, and it helps focus on the candidate’s actual qualifications.
Along the same lines as the last reason, studies indicate most interviewers make a subconscious decision to interview a candidate “in” or “out” after the first 90 seconds. It is human nature to hire who we like based on whatever narratives we have playing in our head at that particular moment. Having a blueprint injects objectivity into the process.
We began incorporating blueprints into our hiring process in 2008. We were amazed how our individual feelings about a candidate and the blueprint results for the candidate were often at odds. To this day, when we interview with a blueprint, this dynamic shows up and still amazes us!
- Focus on strengths over weaknesses
Have you ever done the exercise that asks you to look at a big white piece of paper with a black dot in the middle? Time and time again when asked what they see, people say, “a black dot,” completely missing the large, blank white area. It’s very easy for interviewers to do the same thing. We tend to focus on the small weaknesses and miss the huge strengths.
Let’s face it, we all have weaknesses, but our strengths are what make us great. Our unique abilities and experiences are what make us special and often qualified for a particular job. For sure we don’t want to make weaknesses irrelevant in evaluating job performance, but we don’t want to lose sight of the big picture. (Sometimes a person’s weakness is a good reason not to hire them. Dealing with that is a whole other blog post!) Let’s not miss the big white space because we are fixated on a little black dot.
- Well-being of candidate
I have friends in law enforcement and in the military. They regularly risk everything—putting the job ahead of their personal well-being. I’m thankful for these men and women, and hopefully if I was put in the same position, I’d do the same. However, “job” ahead of “individual” is typically not a good thing. When we hire someone, we are significantly impacting their future. The prospects of career transition and career building are HUGE in the lives of most people we hire. These are major factors in the candidate’s overall well-being, and the well-being of their families. We owe it to every new hire to make sure we are placing them in a role in which they can succeed. We hear too many stories of people suffering burnout and depression because their job is just “not a good fit.” Hiring the wrong person is often worse for the person than it is for the company.
- Legal protection
An attorney friend recently shared with us that government regulation and employer burden is growing so quickly that some companies are redoing their handbooks every four months! Employers live in daunting times. Having a blueprint and interviewing consistently helps ensure and prove consistent and fair hiring practices.
Have you used a blueprint in your hiring practices? Why or why not?
If you have other questions or comments, or an idea for a topic with which we can help, leave it in a comment below. We would love to hear from you!