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How to Recruit for Talent

Posted in Category(ies):  Coaching


When taking on a new person, recruit for talent and not just experience and education. I know this is easier said than done because it puts a real onus on the Interviewer to ‘listen carefully’ and ‘question skilfully.’ The average person brings to the job SKILLS and these skills are the “how to” of the role.  They are the capabilities that can be transferred from one person to another i.e. Microsoft Office skills; Accountancy Skills, Warehousing, Nurses safe administration of medication, etc.  The best way to learn any skill is to practice and practice (can be learned).


A person also brings to the job their KNOWLEDGE i.e. their work experience of a role, their understanding of how a hospital operates a business or an airport.  They can bring with them knowledge and understanding of regulations, accounting and work practices, buying trends, etc.   Both skills and knowledge are very important but have they got the TALENT to carry out the role.

 So what do we mean by talent?

 Talents are recurring patterns of behaviour.  For example, a person is trained in the skills and knowledge to provide excellence in customer service.  As long as the customer needs are within the guidelines of the skills (product features & benefits) and the knowledge (understanding the environment) most people will perform well.  But when a person is confronted with a request outside of the norm, a talented person in customer service will instinctively find the rights words to calm the customer down and resolve the situation.

 So how do we interview for talent?

 When interviewing we need to frame our questions in a way that they are clear and succinct. Asking complex questions confuses the interviewee and they may think they have to answer in a particular way. A short and concise question on the other hand encourages the interviewee to open up.


It is very important to ask open ended questions so that your question does not elicit a yes or no response. It is equally important to listen carefully to the language that your interviewee uses. Do they say "I think", "I hear" or "I feel"? Using different language to that of your interviewee will result in no real connection to what is being asked. However, by changing your language to the language of your interviewee will increase the likelihood of them connecting with the question.

Open-ended questions typically begin with words such as "What" and "How", or phrases such as "Tell me about...” Often they are not technically a question, but a statement which implicitly asks for a response. Open-ended questions have the following characteristics:

  • They facilitate the interviewee to think and reflect.

  • The interviewee will give their opinions and feelings.

  • They hand control of the answer over to the interviewee.Using open-ended questions as a interviewer encourage the interviewee to talk more. They also help to establish rapport, gather information, and increase understanding. They are the opposite of closed-ended questions that typically require a simple brief response such “yes” or “no.” In addition, open-ended questions invites the interviewee to explore their full potential and creativity. So in summary:


Always start your Question with...         

Avoid starting your Question with...







Why? (Avoid using Why as it can put people on the defensive)



Is? / If?





Would? / Could?

 Recruiting for talent may not be easy but when you take the time and trouble to ‘listen carefully’ and ‘question skilfully’ these individuals can contribute so much to your company.  Therefore, it is worth the effort to prepare for every interview no matter what the role is as TALENT as an attribute is not only confined to people in senior positions.   

Posted on Wednesday, 13 August 2014  |  By Bernie Tracey  |  0 comments

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