Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Price of Admission

When you review a set of competencies you should be able to quickly pick out that some represent things that one knows, some represent things that one can do, some represent things that someone has accomplished, some represent personality traits, and some represent innate ability or strengths based on personal preferences. Because you cannot train or develop certain competencies you must hire for them. These are the 'price of admission' competencies.
First, there are certain knowledge and skill competencies that are commodities. So many people have these competencies that you have no intention of teaching them to a new employee. Examples of commodity competencies include how to use a computer mouse or how to fluently speak a language. These skills should be readily available in the general talent pool. Don't hire anyone that lacks these commodity competencies.
Second, there are certain competencies that one cannot develop or learn quickly. In fact, they may be practically innate. Only a life-altering incident is likely to quickly change the candidate's competencies in these areas. These include aptitudes and personality traits. You should not discriminate against candidates who have physical or other limitations that are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless you have a very compelling case that shows how it is not possible for you to make special arrangements that mitigate the impact of that limitation. There are very few challenges that your company should not be able to accommodate so this is probably not going to happen. However, if you identify that it is critical to have someone in a role that is an effective active listener, you had better create behavioral interview questions and a simulation that will highly the likelihood that the candidate is able to listen. You are not going to teach someone to listen after you hire them...

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