Hiring for intercept versus hiring for slope

When we’re hiring for a role, we could choose to hire for slope or intercept.

Hiring for slope means foregoing a bit of goodness in the short term for someone who you believe will learn quickly and deliver good long term results. Intercept, on the other hand, is looking for someone to solve the current problem well.

Most organizations experience this conflict when hiring for new roles. Often, they ignore internal transfers because they believe the candidate with the perfect experience is out there somewhere. However, in the long run, a high potential internal candidate may be a much better choice as they’ll ramp up quickly while also deliver great performance within the context of the organization’s culture.

There isn’t a right answer here. I think the right mix is likely going to be somewhere in the middle. However, many organizations like to believe that they’re always on the look out for potential. But, more often than not, hiring managers are encouraged to look for intercept over slope.

A question for every hiring manager and organization then – how often do you hire for slope versus intercept? And, is it the mix you desire?

Achievement vs. potential – The 200 words project

Researchers tested two different Facebook ads for the same comedian. Half the ads said the comedian, Kevin Shea, “Could be the next big thing.” The other half said, “He is the next big thing.” The first ad generated far more click-throughs and likes than the second.”
Studies around candidates applying for new jobs showed that applicants had better chances emphasizing potential.

People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain, the researchers argued. That uncertainty can lead people to think more deeply about the person they’re evaluating. The more intensive processing that is required can lead to rationalizing by generating more and better reasons as to why the person is a good choice.

The implication? When selling our skills, we should consider emphasizing our potential as much or more than our past achievements. Potential is interesting.

The potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing. – Dan Pink, To Sell is Human


Source and thanks to: To Sell is Human by Dan Pink, Original study by Michael Norton (HBS), Zakary Tormala (Stanford), Jayson Jia (Stanford)

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

Seeing yourself as you could be

If you want to be calm under pressure, just start describing yourself (to yourself) as someone who is incredibly calm under pressure.

This transformation won’t take place over night. But, the next time things go wrong (and, don’t worry, they will), you might catch yourself reacting to the mishap. When you do, write down what you learn about yourself. After a few such experiences, you will feel the psychological trigger coming and start learning to take control of your response. And, a few more such incidents later, you will actually feel very calm under pressure. After all, you are one of those people who is calm under pressure.

As human beings, we care about being consistent with who we think we are. This makes labels incredibly powerful. Some of the smartest coaches of sports teams are very quick to label their players as the “best in the world.” It doesn’t matter if they are. It just matters that they begin behaving like they are the best in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson was famous to label Manchester United players as those who had the strength of character to snatch a victory in the last minute of a game. It didn’t matter if a player showed up at United yesterday. He’d suddenly find himself capable of doing exactly that. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

A big part of being a great leader is bringing out the best in people. For that, we have to learn to see people, not just as they are, but as they could be. And, we’re best served if we begin doing that with ourselves.