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How Companies Identify Talent with Stephanie Crowe of the Ingenico Group & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Ingenico Group Human Resources Hiring Strategies

I would spark a superpower revolution where people relentlessly work to discover their unique talents and gifts, and align their gifts with their work, so that each and every one of us feel we are living our purpose.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Stephanie Crowe.

Stephanie went from Vice President Human Resources to her current role as Head of Global Learning. Before joining Ingenico, Steph served in several senior-level global learning and development roles, led worldwide training, and founded her own learning company. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from American University and an MBA from The Wharton School, graduating with honors from both institutions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

I worked my way out of several jobs before discovering that doing just that — multiplying my impact through people — is actually my superpower. As a student, I redesigned a non-degree admission program to make it self-service. In my early career, I realigned the team and process on a help desk so there were fewer escalations. My first consulting gig, I trained the clients on the project so they didn’t need us (the consultants) anymore. And all those things were good things that probably didn’t look like they would benefit me at the time. That’s how I found that my impact is greatest as a talented leader in human resources and learning.

Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

When hiring, you are really looking for someone who’s going to perform well — in the position and in the company. But of course, it can be really difficult to predict future success. I like to use a conceptual equation for this: performance equals competence plus motivation.

PERFORMANCE = COMPETENCE + MOTIVATION.

1. Fight interview bias. Have a panel of interviewers (2–5) with different personalities and different perspectives on the role. It happens to all of us — we have a bias for people who think, look or have the same background or experiences as us. Break the bias barrier with a range of interviewers.

Example: Interview panel includes: Hiring manager (an introverted engineer), HR (an extraverted people-person), Peer leader (customer-facing role), Finance or Strategy leader (provides service to the target role), Operations leader or QA (is a customer of this role). Try to have a mix of ethnicities and genders if you can.

2. Testing for motivation. Motivational fit for a role is critical to ensure there’s a match between employee, job and company that will stick. Most candidates will be gung-ho during an interview. They’ll tell you they want the job, would do anything for the job. Test for motivational fit by checking the ‘edges’ of the role. These could include willingness to travel, difficult times in the business cycle like being available for overtime during closing in the finance and accounting professions, or to get the product out the door at the end of the month. Be realistic about any draw-backs — from office environment to demanding nature of the work. Then, ask them WHY. Why do they want the job? Check the sincerity of the response, as much as how their why fits who you are and where you’re going as a company.

Example: “There’s a significant amount of travel to be in front of clients for this position. And sometimes we keep working until the job gets done, or the deal gets closed. What keeps you motivated in a position of this kind? Why (this role / this company)?”

3. Testing for competence. There are skills-based tests and setting-the-bar types of certifications that can help you screen for minimal skillset for common job roles. Then what? I like to use behavioral interviewing to test for competence that is most likely to predict future success. Your job description should list job requirements. Based on the job, I look for the most differentiating critical skill needed to perform that job, and then ask for an example of when the candidate has demonstrated it in the past. Usually, I’ll ask this in the context of a ‘challenge’ question, and I will listen for the skills they used to solve it, and how they tackled the problem. And don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean they’ve had to do that exact job before, but that the skill needed is present — and may have been used in a different context. For example, if effective employee engagement and teaming-up is needed for a management role, the individual may have demonstrated it in a volunteer context or a different job role, but they can transfer that skill to the new role in order to succeed.

Example: “Can you give me an example of how you transformed a disengaged team into a high performing team, in your past experience?”

4. Read between the resume’s lines. One skill of human resource professionals I admire is interpreting what’s in a resume. Before you proceed to interview, check for these resume gotchas — the durations of roles (job hoppers), big titles without evidence of scope or scale (exaggerators), inconsistency in roles over time (wanderers), and missing information like required certifications or degree (illusionists.) It’s painful to spend the time, find a great motivational fit, and discover someone isn’t actually qualified to perform the role — or worse, you hire them and then end up with buyer’s remorse.

Example: Job hoppers, exaggerators, wanderers, and illusionists.

5. Network interviewers. If you don’t have expertise in what you’re hiring for, phone a friend. Find someone in your network who does have the ability to assess someone in the target skillset and ask them to participate as an interviewer to help select the right person. Don’t let your lack of expertise be your blind spot — you’ll be glad you leveraged your wider network.

Example: You need to hire your first IT professional or HR professional and you’re a CEO or Operations expert. Ask your colleague, friend, or alumni network who are in the field you’re hiring for — most would be delighted to assist with the functional screening on your behalf (and they might even be able to refer someone to you).

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

At Ingenico, we are proud of who we are as a company, and we believe that being true to that is one of the things that attract great talent to us — being true to our leadership in the industry, our innovation focus and the things we’re proud of in our community and with our teams. We post what we’re proud of as these opportunities arise on YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social channels.

Second, networking is key in our industry. We make connections all the time, and staying connected in an industry that has a lot of movement in and out of channels, suppliers, partners, and customers, keeping in touch with talent and where they are in their careers is a big funnel.

I’d like to say we don’t ‘post and pray’ (HR term for posting a job and praying you’ll get the right candidate). We sometimes do. But we also do a lot of outreach, inviting our employees to give referrals, and use recruiters who are excellent at finding their way to great talent.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would spark a superpower revolution where people relentlessly work to discover their unique talents and gifts, and align their gifts with their work, so that each and every one of us feels we are living our purpose.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was young, I thought I was here to change the world. Now I know I’m here to help the world change.

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Steven Cope, Joss Whedon, and Madonna. All people who are living their purpose, and applied completely different gifts. Plus, I’m a fan!

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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