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“Are the interview practices used by search firms and HR departments really the best there is or can we learn from others?”

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Tom Armour is a cofounder of High Return Selection™ and is also a developer of Guided Instinct Interviewing™. Tom has been an executive in leading global companies and has worked for several of the ‘Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For’. He has led the implementation of leading practices in talent and recruitment, compensation, incentive design, performance management, TQM in addition to other areas. Tom has established leading edge practices at all levels in Pharmaceutical, Life Sciences, Medical Products, Networking, High Tech, Finance etc.

High Return Selection brings small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) the practical solutions needed to Attract, Engage and Retain high performing employees.

Tom Armour, High Return Selection - President

MO: What inspired you to launch High Return Selection™?

Tom: Kristina Vohma and I originally worked on a project to improve talent and selection in a large company. The company guarded their reputation and could not tolerate hiring people who lacked integrity and they were losing sleep over this.

Their hiring teams used the very best assessment and interview tools but still missed some key flags. We asked why and realized applicants had become more interview savvy and could access answers for traditional interview questions. Many were also coached to succeed in interviews. To address this issue, we realized we needed to think outside the box.

In response, we researched and developed interview methods based on best practices from non-typical professions. The results were outstanding and we quickly learned the method could be used to identify high performers more consistently.

Since inception we have developed better methods to engage, improve performance and retain high producers.

MO: What are the biggest obstacles companies face in attracting and retaining high performing employees?

Tom: This is a good question. As we work with companies we find the biggest challenge is not recognizing that times have changed. Candidates have changed and so have the tools we use to attract and screen them. Companies that haven’t revised their recruiting methods are being left behind. Here are some examples:

The search for highly skilled and high performing employees is very competitive because the unemployment rate for this group is surprisingly low. Companies need to understand this and make sure they have the current methods for finding talented people.

Companies often don’t know how to look for high achievers! When screening candidates, you get what you go after. Unfortunately many hiring managers don’t realize that high performers are similar to elite athletes, what separates them from average contributors are unique inner characteristics. As an elite athlete, Wayne Gretzky was always known to be several moves ahead of others. This inner trait is exemplified by his famous quotation “I go to where the puck will be”.

Candidates have changed, they are much more interview savvy and through the web can access answers to every conceivable interview question. Many applicants can be better trained in job interviewing than are the company interviewers. This makes selection far more difficult.

Very good candidates are much more selective. We find most high performers will screen each company to determine if it is a company worth working for. They generally look for companies that are known for their integrity, good leadership and a commitment to their employees. This can be good news for SMB’s that no how to approach the candidates but a real problem for employers who are using the ‘same old, same old’ methods.

MO: What are some of the innovative methods you use to improve organizational performance?

Tom: We find it is best to regard performance as a dynamic process that begins well before hiring and becomes part of every employee’s daily routine. Similar to a well-functioning family, mutual expectations are part of daily life! No family would ever rely on an annual performance review to build a healthy environment.

For almost half a century companies have been reworking the traditional performance review. The result is an annual document that is often cited as a frustration for employees and managers and when the cost of lost time is calculated, companies realize very little for their efforts.

We find it is important for companies to understand their ‘winning performance characteristics’ and to embed them in their company’s daily routine and culture.

MO: Can you explain the advantages of being employed by several, ‘Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For’ before starting a company of your own?

Tom: Another good question, world leading companies can implement brilliant initiatives but also many complete bombs. You learn what works well and also the fads you should quickly run away from. In general what separate smart moves from costly mistakes are two things: timeline and motivation.

We’ve taken this learning into our own startup company. It will probably sound dumb but we place trust and relationship before profit. We also enjoy working with companies that are passionate about building a company that will last; one that will benefit customers and provide good employment. I remember one very successful founder who said ‘Tom, my proudest accomplishment is that when I get up in the morning I know I have helped create good jobs for more than 2,200 families’

MO: Can you tell our readers why you developed Guided Instinct Interviewing™ tool, how it works and what the advantages are in using it compared to more traditional interviewing methods?

Tom: Guided Instinct Interviewing™ evolved in response to a need. Several years ago we found ourselves in a situation where it was becoming much more difficult to find and select good people. Our dilemma was: although we were using world-class interviewing methods and assessment tools, we weren’t getting a good return for our efforts. We were still suffering from the hiring mistakes the vast majority of companies experience.

In response we did what most companies do, we looked to see if there was something better out there. We soon realized there wasn’t. Although times had changed and so had applicants, employment interviewers were still using interview methods and assessment tools that were repackaged but decades old.

Finally and out of frustration we hit on the key questions: Are the interview practices used by search firms and HR departments really the best there is or can we learn from others?

Anyway a long story short this put us on a path where we researched and developed totally new recruiting practices based on the methods used by professionals in non-employment fields. We learned from litigators and psychologists as well as police and neurosciences.

How it works.

Guided Instinct Interviewing™ is customized to each company’s unique culture. It is natural and easy to use and goes beyond traditional behavioral and competency based interviewing etc. It can be aligned with leading assessment tools to provide a better picture of the authentic candidate’s character. Hiring managers take to the process quickly and enjoy using it and candidates are often quoted as saying “that is one of the most professional interviews I have ever had, this must be a great company to work for “

The advantages.

The advantages are: it’s easily implemented and has shown that it can substantially improve the quality of those hired while reducing those costly hiring mistakes. In addition when quality improves other costs improve, most notably: time to productivity, reduced internal conflicts, reduction in absenteeism etc.

In addition companies who have implemented Guided Instinct Interviewing™ have indicated its techniques can also improve their ability to build stronger relationships with employees and with customers.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for High Return Selection™?

Tom: As mentioned we love helping SME’s become more successful, it’s good for the company, its employees and the communities in which they reside. We find that each business is quite unique and that working with founders and their management teams is a privilege. So we’re going to do a lot more of that.

As a snapshot, one of the new areas that we have been introducing responds to the need for SME’s to have cost effective ways to engage and retain their value to employees. However we’ll save that for another article.

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