Purple Squirrels are the trophies of the talent acquisition world. They are the dream candidate of any entrepreneur. They are multi-skilled, dedicated, independent and can work for peanuts (pun intended).
Okay. Let’s back up. Purple Squirrels?
Purple Squirrels (n):
Name given to candidates that are near-impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and possess the perfect mix of skills, education and experience.
Sounds like the employees you want working for you.
To find the Purple Squirrel, though, entrepreneurs need to go beyond the polished CV and pat polite answers.
Some candidates may appear unfit for your company or your job role at the first blush but end up being just the right candidate. And others could look and speak the part only to turn out to be not-so-special.
Here is a guide on how to uncover the right candidate through the job interview:
1. Keep the job in mind - always
Stepping into the interview hall, you need to keep in mind what you are hiring for. What problem do you want to solve and how can this candidate help? This information should, in fact, form the foundation of the entire conversation.
Knowing what your business needs will allow you decide what’s important to look out for in the interviewee. Even when a candidate looks the part, the question you should keep asking yourself is: can he do the job? Or, can he learn to do the job?
2. Know the candidate (Linkedin/Facebook/Twitter)
To make the conversation even more robust, take the time to investigate your candidate before meeting them. And this doesn’t have to be creepy. The candidate already sent enough material your way to help you have a more rounded view of who they are. Using their first and last on LinkedIn will give you their professional history and Facebook will give a personal window into their lives.
Again, you don’t have to be creepy about this. You don’t need to keep looking for dirt on them either.
When recruiting a writer, for instance, a personal blog is always a good place to know more about them. All the information you gather from your sleuthing will serve to help ask the right questions during the interview.
If a writer you are looking to recruit for instance has done a story you particularly liked, ask how they wrote the story. This will help the writer open up further about their passions and what drives their creative process. They could get a chance to reveal their work ethic and you can know whether that aligns with your company’s or not.
3. Give them a real-life test
It’s not enough to look at the portfolio of your candidate. To get a deeper look at their work ethic and skills, give them an on-the-spot task similar to what they’d have to do in their day-to-day.
This process is a sure-fire way to know if the candidate is fit for the role. If this is a web developer role, for instance, don’t just look at their past works, give them a simple module to develop there and then.
While solving this problem, observe how they work. If they didn’t know how to solve the problem, how did they handle it? Look out for behavioural cues.
4. Let them ask questions
Interviews aren’t interrogations. Let the candidate ask questions about the company. Tell them about the company vision and ask what they think about that. If they have any questions try to answer them.
And when candidates don’t ask questions when given the opportunity, watch out. Either they are not confident, they don’t understand the role or are not excited about your vision. None of that is good.
You won’t get the Purple Squirrel-type employee if you don’t prepare to exploit the interview process for all its worth.