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So this week we listened to Radio 4’s excellent “Analysis” programme with slightly more interest than usual. After all, the title “Is Talent a Thing?” is something we are constantly discussing here at Citifocus HQ.
Contrary to popular belief all financial institutions do not share the same mindset and the ways in which they assess talent and identify staff vary enormously. For example, we are often preparing candidates for a range of interviews with some or all of the following:
The firm who undertake a “one hit” interview approach using a highly scripted behavioural and situational competency interview method
The firm who undertake online aptitude and psychometric testing for the first three stages of the interview process, so that the only human contact the candidate has is at final (HR) interview stage
The firm who undertake a standard 2 interview process following a thorough sifting of CVs
All of the above are effective means of identifying the “right” person and appear to work adequately for the companies that employ them, but all have their flaws. The first company’s approach automatically rules out candidates who may not be able to afford further education and those from backgrounds where education is not seen to be important. Although an excellent indication of aptitude for study the qualification in itself is not an indicator of intelligence. And recruiting only from direct competitors disqualifies anyone from a slightly different environment who may have insights that would benefit the company. The second firm run the risk of the textbook answer “perfect” candidate who waltzes through interviews but does not deliver in the workplace. The third firm invariably identify the right person to do the job but the lack of human interaction means far less assessment of the all-important soft skills, which is magnified when the first time a new employee meets their line manager is on their first day of employment. And finally, try as they might to avoid it, there is no doubt that unconscious bias will slip into the third firm’s interview process.
Companies choose to use whichever method suits them simply because it suits them and it works for them. So we end this article pretty much as we began; still asking the question “Is Talent a Thing?” and also wondering how best to identify it. There seems to be no definitive answer but in an environment where it is so important to recognise the value of diversity it is encouraging that it has become such a popular topic for discussion.