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Would you hire Malcolm Turnbull? How to select the best candidate for a job


Even though he’s still to be tested, what stands out about Malcolm Turnbull is that not only is he one of the smartest guys in the room, more importantly, he learns from experience.

One example is his focus on middle Australia. You’ve seen him on the train. The Prime Minister is learning from Tony Abbott’s experience and working hard to win back the middle Australia he lost.

When it comes to hiring decisions you can’t be too careful because it’s all too easy to hire mini-me’s.

We all love our reflections

Whether we realize it or not, we have unconscious biases and there’s a tendency to hire in our own image. You’ll do better, much better, with an agile and bright hire who is able to learn.

It is seductive to assume that someone with the qualifications and the experience on paper will be a star performer for you. For example, one of my smart and quick-learning clients was recently denied a frontline management position because ‘she didn’t have enough management experience.

Her organisation assumed that the best way to select good future managers would be to hire people who’ve already done the job.

But research has been showing for some time now, that this simply isn’t true. The people with the highest potential are clever.

They learn from their own and others’ mistakes. This trumps experience every time.

How should you choose your employees?

Hiring managers would be better off using a range of selection techniques to select the best candidate for a job:

  • Mental ability testing: If you can rule out people who aren’t so switched on, you’re half way there.
  • Personality testing: Find out if your candidate is a good fit before they cause havoc in your team – not after.
  • Work sample testing: The best way to see if a candidate can do a job is to watch them do the job.
  • Job knowledge checks: How much do they know about the role and your organisation?
  • Reference checks: Having past experience in a similar role doesn’t mean they were good at it.

Extensive research has been done that follows successful job candidates over long periods of time. Studies consistently show that job performance is unrelated to age, and only minimally related to job experience.

Turnbull is an ideal potential employee. Of course he has to be a fit. But he’d get to round two because, not only does he have the smarts, but he learns from experience.

He appears to want to work with his whole political team – be it left, middle or right liberals. He’s also reaching out to key stakeholders that Abbott had previously ignored.

With more than 25 years of experience working with senior and middle managers in business, Organisational Psychologist and Executive Coach Michelle Pizer is an expert in the management of people at work. Like to get the inside track on building a business team you love from experts from around the world? Hosted by Dr Michelle Pizer, Crack The Dream Team Code is a podcast series of 25 interviews available free from November 9.

Michelle Pizer