Jul 10 2018| Human Data

Lessons Learned: Appointing the Right Person to the Role

Using Science to Optimise your Recruitment

by Dr Kaaren Welsby, PhD Senior Associate

In the past, I know that I have probably been recruited into positions for which I was ultimately unsuited and in which I did not thrive.

The end result was a situation in which the employer probably wondered how they could have been so wrong. For my part, I wondered how things could have been so unlike I had expected.

The key to why things didn't work out is probably somewhere in between personal and professional expectation - and a lack of comprehensive human data.

Headhunted - badly?

I believed that I had been headhunted for the innate skills that I possessed. Meanwhile, my employer believed that they had found someone who fitted their model for the role. A lack of clarity and communication - and the absence of some really insightful human data - resulted in both of us feeling sorely disappointed.

Looking back from the distance of very many years now, I can reflect that I felt flattered to have been headhunted. I had already created a potent image in my mind of what the job entailed - in line with the things I liked to do, my behaviours and my values. I also assumed that my prospective employer had similarly identified my preferred ways of working, and by intimation, my values and what mattered to me.

Both of us saw and heard only what accorded with our pre-existing views and the unelaborated criteria for a great professional fit. When reality intervened a short while later, there was mutual disappointment and frustration.



I found myself trapped in what I perceived as a role built around unwelcomely restrictive practices and processes - literally light years away from the freedom of movement and autonomy that I had envisaged. Meanwhile, my employer saw someone wishing to move forwards without having mastered the basics.

Being trapped in a professional relationship of some kind can result in a number of different reactions, ranging from frustration and anger to depression, disengagement and even openly disruptive behaviour. All of these are mutually toxic.


Anticipate the Problem with Human Data

Could this situation have been avoided?

Our use of human data is key in making brilliant appointments - connecting great employees with great employers. We can do this because data does not lie. It will show us unequivocally where people’s strengths lie and most importantly what their values are. Our family backgrounds and how we are brought up points us unflinchingly towards what truly matters to us and where we really belong in life - both personally and professionally.

Our data also goes deeper into the patterns and the habits that we create and how different elements of our lives are balanced. Knowing this means that we are able to move forward with renewed confidence; it is an incredibly powerful way to refresh our practice and to realign us with what really matters most.

And, so back to my previous example of an unsuccessful alignment of role and employee. Perhaps my lesson has been to listen more carefully; to hear what people say and to read into what they really mean. There is an art to interpreting others in various contexts - a little like estate agent speak - for ‘character cottage in need of some updating’ we should read ‘falling down, requires total renovation’. Job roles are no different. While I could have listened better and asked more probing questions, so should my employer.

Hindsight is both a gift and a terrible thing sometimes. It can highlight the decisions we should have made but didn’t. It can also remind us that each experience moves us on to the next and that while we are all fallible, we are also capable of great strength and resilience. Age and experience helps. But only human data can guarantee great results - and really happy employees.

About The Author | Dr Kaaren Welsby, PhD

Dr Kaaren Welsby is a charismatic communicator and academic achiever with 20 years of front-facing military, education and training experience. She is energetic and creative, with the ability to motivate and inspire others. Kaaren possesses a first class BA (Honours) degree in English Literature, an MA (Honours) degree in the written word and the visual imagination and a PhD in English Literature and Art History. She also has a PGCE in secondary English teaching. Kaaren is a Major in the British Army Reserves; she has undertaken two operational tours and is a trained media officer. She has worked extensively in the field of army recruitment, education and programme delivery, before becoming an education adviser for the Army Officer Selection Board, part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst group. She now specialises in the educational and psychological assessment of potential army officer candidates. Kaaren has a breadth of experience in working with people from a variety of backgrounds, including intensive one-to-one support for young people in education and care. She is an experienced coach, assisting others to fulfil both their personal and professional potential.

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