The Sunday NY Times had an interesting interview with Daniel Hendrix of Interface, Inc.  The primary focus of the discussion was on Hendrix’s views on work-life balance and delegation.  That message is important to leaders who are working way too much.  Unless you are about to find a cure for cancer, work can wait as there will always be more.  Spend time with your family (or, at least away from work).

The conversation also goes into hiring and interviewing.  While some of the things that Hendrix says he likes to interview for will make your legal antennae go up (asking about family?), others are potentially quite insightful (Does the person have work-life balance?  Does s/he understand principles of servant leadership?).  This is particularly true when he addresses candidates’ ability to see and address the “big picture” rather than doing things as they appear.  Hendrix admits that these are hard things to get at in an interview.  Is interviewing the best way to measure these kinds of complex attributes?  I don’t think so.

You can measure the attributes he is talking about in assessment centers.  This process puts leaders in realistic work situations and their behavior is recorded and assessed using objective scoring methods.  It’s much more powerful (and valid) to watch someone generate work product and/or behave in a situation than asking them to talk about past experiences in a behavioral interviewing setting.  This is because recalling what we’ve done is not objective.  This is not to bash behavioral interviewing, which when used well can yield valid and valuable information about candidates.  However, I’d much rather watch a person do something than tell me about it.  It’s more valid and I can provide them with specific behavioral feedback.

It’s good to see an executive thinking seriously about which attributes should be used in selecting future leaders.  It also shows that there are opportunities for HR to introduce innovative tools that executives don’t know about.  It helps us demonstrate our value in a language they can understand.  Don’t miss things kinds of opportunities!

For more information on pre-employment testing, assessment centers, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or