“It’s time to base hiring decisions less on credentials, and more on the motivation and ability to collaborate and learn” – Adam Grant

Written by Adam grant | Organisational Psychologist at Wharton, #1 NYT Bestselling author and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

Retrieved from www.adamgrant.net/

Managers are constantly betting on the wrong people – and turning down the right ones. Sometimes it’s because they’re looking to hire themselves. Other times it’s because they’re too focused on outsmarting candidates by making them do long division or brainteasers about how many paper clips can fit in Yankee Stadium. And in many cases, it’s because they’re too obsessed with credentials rather than skills and values.

Job interviews are broken. Here is a list of ways in which you can fix them:

Replace open ended questions with structured interviews

Identify the key qualities you’re looking for in candidates, design relevant questions in advance and have multiple interviewers evaluate their response. You can create a scoring key by giving your questions to your existing people and seeing how start performers respond differently.

Behavioral questions are always the best option

“Tell me about a time when…” can help you predict future performance from past behavior. But not everyone has a relevant story from their past. If you want a window into how a candidate will do unfamiliar skills – you want to add some situational questions – “What would you do if…”

Don’t just pay attention to what candidates say – let them show what they can do

Chef Dave Chang, the founder of Momofuku and star of Ugly Delicious, asks candidates to make him an omelette. He’s not looking for perfection; hes interested in their attention to details. These kinds of work samples allow candidates to showcase their strengths in tasks that are directly relevant to the job. To see work samples in action, we take a trip to the software company Menlo Innovations, where they’ve abandoned resumes and interviews all together in favor of auditions that allow candidates to demonstrate their motivation and ability to collaborate and learn.

Be careful about defining cultural fit the wrong way

Sociologist Lauren Rivera finds that many interviews make the mistake of looking for similarities in hobbies and social class, which weeds out diversity of interests and backgrounds. The beneficial kind of cultural fit is similar in core values – like attention to detail or flexibility. You can also look for cultural contribution: what will candidates bring to the table that’s currently missing from your culture.

The past two years have tested the resilience of individuals and the facilities management industry as a whole, but it has all been a time of great progress and positive change. Rebecca Laurence, Founder and CEO of Laurence Recruitment, and Glen Mowbray, Deputy Director at Major University Initiatives at the University of Canberra and President of TEFMA, look back on the pandemic response, and share their predictions for the year ahead.

Facilities Perspectives | Vol 16, No 1 March – May 2022
The Pandemic Response

Mowbray explains that over the past two years, the higher education sector has seen a reduction in staff and students on campus, as well as challenges related to the increase in cost of operations.
     'Supply chain issues have denied institutions the economies of scale that we have enjoyed in the past when it comes to things like bulk cleaning consumables and hand sanitiser, with rapidly evolving new requirements often increasing our cost base,' he says. 'Like most institutions, we've all felt the impact of the government mandates, isolation, and challenges with accessing resources, which has been more of a problem in remote and regional areas.'
     'In the past two years, the facilities management (FM) sector has stepped out of the shadows of purely being an enabling service and stood up as leaders of the frontline response to COVID-19 - including complex demands on cleaning, mechanical needs and air quality management. I think in 2022, however, we need to reframe the focus on our frontline people and the impact this has had on them - mentally, emotionally and financially. We need to support our teams and partners to get through this next phase of the pandemic. We've had people working so hard for so long at a constant and extreme pace, with little to no downtime. I think that, as an industry, we need to prioritise engagement with them to ensure they have the support they need, and also to share the skills and knowledge they have developed over this time with new folk who join or workforce.'
    Over the past two years, the employment market has faced its own challenges, but as Laurence explains, there have been a lot of positive outcomes, too. 
    'In the first lockdown of 2020, recruiting came to a halt. It was about holding on to what you had while we all adjusted to the pandemic. In 2021, people were reluctant to change their job and wanted to hold on to some certainty in what was still a time of many unknowns; however, the view now has shifted, and candidates are seeing 2022 as a time to pursue better career opportunities. It's the great reshuffle. We are seeing talent staying in the FM space, and they are now looking to grow their career and further develop their expertise. Looking back on the past two years, it's incredible what we've all managed to achieve. Individuals and organisations have handled it in different ways, and there have been some large gains with some sectors within FM. Overall, it has been a great achievement thus far.'
The Year Ahead

Like many of us, both Mowbray and Laurence are cautiously optimistic about what the year ahead holds.
'I think the focus for institutions this year will be about consolidation and strategic prioritisation,' Mowbray says. 'This will include a consolidation of space, looking at how much you have and what is the best use for it. We are already seeing institutions offloading student accommodation, and catering to focus on the core business of teaching and research, with others commercialising space as digital learning opportunities reduce special needs. Another area of focus will be universities looking at how to take themselves to students. That may look like offering more courses online or increasing our presence outside of Australia with international campuses and transnational partnerships.'
'Sustainability and working towards carbon neutral will be a big focus for institutions. At the University of Canberra, we have academics that are leaders in the field of sustainability, and by embracing their expertise to do what is socially demanded, we will create opportunities to make our operations more effective, and our financial ability to respond to future needs more effective. Institutions are champions for change, and, as large property owners and developers, it's time we move away from debate about carbon offset and invest in new tech and renewables to make our operations more resilient, cost-effective and efficient.'
Laurence sees the first half of 2022 as a time of business getting on with business, cautiously optimistic and investing in their growth plans. 'Assuming there are no new COVID-19 variants that change the game, I think the second half of 2022 is when we will start to see things normalise,' she says. 'The first half of this year will be about finding our way with RATs, easing restrictions, and dealing with some uncertainty. I think the next phase in 2022 will be about the recovery, reconnection and repair that needs to happen. We have successfully worked from home over the past two years, but that has come at a cost to mental health for a lot of people, and navigating lockdowns has added stress to the situation. People are social creatures; we need to be around others, and we crave that sense of community and connections. I'm optimistic that in 2022 we will have more of that social connection, which will have flow-on benefits for health, work, productivity and community'.
Lessons from 2021 That Are Relevant Today

As the focus shifts to living and working with COVID-19, it's also a good time to reflect on what has been learnt over the past two years that can help individuals and organisations to build resilience. 
    'Don't plan too far ahead, be prepared to pivot, and adapt quickly as needed,' Laurence says. 'We've all had to let go of the old ways of doing things, which hasn't been easy. Leaders need to learn to trust their team to do their job while working remotely. 
That has been challenging for many leaders, but those who embraced it will retain their teams and attract talent that can work around flexible arrangements.'
    'With many people looking to change jobs this year, there is an opportunity for the FM industry to embrace the opportunity to look for different types of people who aren't necessarily from FM backgrounds. Be open to industrial, manufacturing, problem-solving and solution sales environments. It's a tight market, be open and try a different approach from the traditional "must have experience in xyz" to attract different candidates who can bring a fresh approach. Look for a great attitude with transferable skills and a keen desire to learn. I'd also suggest engaging a specialist search firm that can save you time and budget with targeted search to introduce the right person with the right attitude and cultural fit for your organisation.'
    The pandemic response has given many people in the FM industry an opportunity to demonstrate the skills and value of facilities managers in a range of settings. 'We've all gone through the unknown of the pandemic, and I do think we are getting closer to coming out of it,' Mowbray says. 'I do hope there is an upside to all of this in that we have better collaboration, and the FM industry has an enduring stronger voice with the C suite and government. The pandemic response has highlighted the value of the FM industry as both an enabler and an active leader in providing healthy and safe built environments, and we need to leverage these gains and opportunities for the benefit of all the industries we work within, and for.' 

After two years of disruption, returning workers expect more from their employers.

Economies the world over are fighting to recover from the massive disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as the doors of long-dormant offices reopen, many employees have other thoughts.
It turns out your employees have been doing more during their time at home than just working. They’ve been thinking about their career goals and work-life balance – and their needs have changed. Around the world, millions have decided that it’s time to change the way they live and work.
Employee attrition surged during 2021: in the United States alone, business consultancy McKinsey recently noted that over 19 million people – nearly 12 per cent of the country’s entire workforce – quit their jobs in the six months from April. That’s the number who quit, not who were fired or furloughed! No wonder it’s being called the Great Resignation.

Even those who stay may be weighing their options, with 40 per cent at least somewhat likely to leave their current job in the next three to six months. Meanwhile, 47 per cent of employees want a hybrid work environment – and will favour organisations that will give it to them.
Experts anticipate similar trends in Australia, where workers are emerging from mind-numbing lockdowns with new lifestyle expectations and a willingness to change careers that don’t have the same primacy that they used to.

Foster a sense of purpose

After 25 years working in facilities management, and 11 years in executive search and recruitment, I’ve learnt that employees long for investment in the human aspects of work. They want a renewed sense of purpose, social and interpersonal connections, and to be genuinely valued by their organisation, colleagues and managers. Each of your employees has their own lived experience of the pandemic, and you must be positive and responsible to employers than ever. Forget waving big salaries in front of star performers: after two years of unprecedented mental health and wellbeing challenges, employees want a renewed focus on inclusion, wellbeing, empathy and high emotional quotient (EG).

Think about how your organisations demonstrates it’s values and empowers it’s people, teams and culture, despite ongoing challenges. Consider how you can better support employees with formal wellbeing programs and flexible work policies: think extended annual leave, volunteer days, and family-friendly flex days.
Trust people to do their jobs. Evaluate new employees based not just on a checklist of experience, but on transferable skills, ethical behavior and integrity, humanistic skills, and a great attitude and cultural fit.
Engage with employees so they are committed, and not just compliant. If they feel part of the vision and purpose of the team, they will be part of the solution, not the problem. Organisations that can balance all of these goals will emerge from the Great Resignation with committed and engaged employees that see you ans an employer of choice – and a reputation that will ensure that you keep attracting the best employees in the future.

Resilience is about the ability to cope with the ups and downs and bounce back from downs.

In a workplace culture, this can be applied to an employees’ abilities to manage anything from a challenging workload to frustrating colleagues. It is said that those with greater resilience are better able to mange stress, which is a risk for conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The ability to build resilience is a skill that will serve you well in an increasingly stressful work world. Companies stand to benefit from a more resilient workforce. Building an organisational culture that encourages and supports resilience training just makes good business sense.

5 ways to Increase Resilience in the Workplace:

1. Exercise Mindfulness – Mindfulness is highly useful for managing stress, improving collaboration, and enhancing wellbeing. Integrating mindfulness into core talent processes such as onboarding, manager training, performance conversations and leadership development is crucial.

2. Compartmentalise your cognitive load – be deliberate about compartmentalising different types of work activities such as emailing strategy or brainstorming sessions, and business-as-usual meetings.

3. Take detachment breaks – Mental focus, clarity and energy cycles are typically 90-120 minutes long, so it is useful to step away from our work for even a few minutes to reset energy and attention. This can enable you to grow your capacity for resilience throughout the course of the workday. The long-term payoff is that you can preserve energy and prevent burnout over the course of days, weeks, and months.

4. Develop mental agility – Stopping and labelling emotions has the effect of activating the thinking center of our brains, rather than the emotional centre – a valuable skill in demanding, high-performance workplaces everywhere.

5. Cultivate compassion – Compassion and business effectiveness are not mutually exclusive. Rather, individual, team and organizational success rely on a compassionate work culture.

While it’s exceedingly difficult to remove bias from an individual, it’s possible to design organisations in ways that make it harder for biased minds to skew judgment. We should stop wasting resources trying to de-bias mindsets and instead start to de-bias our hiring procedures.

Forming an opinion about how people of a given gender, religion, race, appearance, or other characteristic think, act, respond, or would perform the job without any evidence that this is the case.

Inconsistency in Questioning
Asking different questions of each candidate leads to a skewed assessment of who would best perform the job. Questions designed to get information about a specific candidate are only appropriate in the context of a core set of questions asked of all candidates.

First Impressions
An interviewer might make a snap judgement about someone based on their first impression positive or negative that clouds the entire interview. For example, letting the fact that the candidate is wearing out of the ordinary clothing or has a heavy regional accent take precedence over the applicant’s knowledge, skills, or abilities.

Negative Emphasis
This common occurance involves rejection of a candidate based on a small amount of negative information a common occurrence. Research indicates that interviewers give unfavourable information about twice the weight of favourable information.

Halo/Horn Effect
The “halo” effect occurs when an interviewer allows one strong point about the candidate to overshadow or influence everything else. For instance, knowing someone went to a university might be looked upon favourably, thus everything the applicant says during the interview is seen in this light. (“Well, she left out an important part of the answer to that question, but she must know it, she went to XYZ University). The “horn” effect is just the opposite allowing one weak point to influence everything else.

Cultural Noise
Since the candidate wants the job, she or he will provide the words the interviewer wants to hear, even if those words are not entirely truthful. For example, an applicant might say that he has no problem reporting to someone younger, or working in a team setting, when this is not the case. Interviewers should prepare questions that probe for specific examples and stay away from questions that elicit “yes” or “no” answers

Nonverbal Bias
Undue emphasis might be placed on nonverbal cues that have nothing to do with the job, such as loudness or softness of voice, or the type of handshake given.

Contrast Effect
Strong(er) candidates who interview after weak(er) ones may appear more qualified than they are because of the contrast between the two. Note taking during the interview and a reasonable period of time between interviews may alleviate this

So you want to hire for attitude. We’ve all interviewed candidates who appear to be great. Their CV looks good, they interview well, their psychometric results indicate a strong match, references check out, and yet after a short time and often towards the end of the so called honeymoon period, cracks start to show. They start to go AWOL, lack urgency, not playing well with others, a lot of noise around them, lack of outcomes, and the excuse book comes out.

You start to think what is going wrong? What did we miss at appointment, and what are we still missing, what did we not do etc…We have all been there!

So here are a few tips and interview ideas that have helped many a hiring manager to cut through all the “noise” and actually hire talent with the technical skills, and with a great attitude and cultural fit.

  1. Standard interview questions do not assess attitude
  2. Don’t ask leading questions – They give the candidates a lead in to highlight strengths and hide weaknesses.
  3. Be aware of problem bringers V solvers* – Bringers talk about the problem all day and do nothing to fix, problem solvers are the ones who create a solution or find others who can. A possible sign of a candidate being a “problem bringer” is the number of times they have changed jobs without plausible reasons.

Even though we would naturally believe new hires fail due to lack of technical experience, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons. In some cases they were not coachable, or did not possess sufficient emotional intelligence or motivation, or they just didn’t sync with the organisation. Whatever the particulars, having the wrong attitude is what defines the wrong person the majority of the time.

So, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Look for positive past business relationships from background checks
  • Look for flexibility around time for interviews and meetings
  • Responsiveness (e.g. they promptly return calls, sms, and email)
  • Looking to learn new skills and happy to pass on their own
  • Trust your instincts.

Even the best checks and research can result in cultural misalignment, so if you have the slightest doubt, don’t hire.

Are we working with them to bring out the best of their ability, are we getting the best out of them by the way we support them, again this goes back to cultural fit. Once we hired the person, the on boarding and the development and embedding must continue. This will look like kicking small goals, and some larger ones along the way, developing the internal relationships with the new employee, to embed company values and DNA into their mindset and behaviors, to build trust to enable a safe way for them to develop, and introducing them to other team support to help educate them in the ‘nuances” of the business.
Remember employees leave their managers not their companies, and as a Manager hiring the right people is probably the most important aspect of your job.
Good luck and above all have fun!


We receive applications from candidates every day, we speak with candidates every day, we interview candidates every day, and it never seems to amaze me, no matter what level of seniority of candidate the lack of preparation, interaction, awareness and commitment to the process.
So here are a few tips to help along the way…. The interview/evaluation commences as soon as any form of contact is received. That can be how you engage with our team, how you present yourself, your Resume, punctuality, follow up, and overall engagement and attitude.
When it comes down to decision making time, and a client has two excellent candidates that can equally do the job and have equal remuneration expectations, who equally fit the culture, the decision will come down to the candidate who has a great attitude and easy to be around.