(comic is from Andrew Wales, who drew it for a class assignment: http://andrewwales.blogspot.com/2009/08/curriculum-comics-multiple.html)
Welcome back! We are here again with MI theory. In my last article, I promised you 12 recruitment tips using the wonderful, the amazing, the highly-complex-yet-super-simple-theory-of-multiple-intelligences. For a summary, link back to Monday’s article. If you are familiar with the theory, let’s move ahead.
Personalize Your Applicant
These tips are best applied in an interview. All of them involve an element of discovery. Discover a learning style, discover a personality, discover effective skills.
7. Discover an Applicant’s Personality
Main Point: use interpersonal intelligence to dig beneath the surface and discover an applicant’s interests and character.
Because of the seriousness attached to an interview, candidates often build facades around their personalities. Thinking they need to be proper and formal and “business-like,” candidates don’t think to reveal personalities. They would rather hide what makes them tick, what makes them smile, what makes them sick, what makes them happy, what makes them stay up at night. They would rather conceal their identities.
This can make recruitment troublesome. When you have two candidates that equally qualify, how do you determine which one is hired?
Personality matters. Digging beneath the surface, then, is a necessary component to any recruitment strategy.
Thus, have a strong interpersonal intelligence involved in your recruitment. The interpersonal are good with people. They can interpret other’s feelings, discern attitudes, and pinpoint personalities. And while this may undercut the manager’s “power,” consider asking your interpersonal to help with all the hiring.
This happened to me in one of my first interviews. The manager came in, introduced himself, and then introduced me to the associate manager, who “does all the hiring.” When asked why, the manager responded,” he’s just really good at reading people.” The manager left and the associate began the interview.
I don’t suggest you leave all the hiring to someone else. You definitely want to be involved with the recruitment process. But use your employees well. If someone has a strong interpersonal intelligence, ask him or her to help recruit.
8. Discover an Applicant’s Effective Skills
Main Point: put your employees where they work most effectively.
As stated above, recruitment involves digging beneath the surface to reveal personality. In addition, recruitment involves uncovering effective skills. With these two, you shed light on who they are as a person and what they do best.
To reveal effective skills, you must ask well-informed questions.
Using knowledge from both MI theory and your candidates’s applications, you can form questions that penetrate facades and reveal some juicy information.
Below are a list of questions that may help you do this. I am recycling these questions from an article on Business Management Daily. For one, these questions are just awesome. Two, many of them implicitly use MI theory. In other words, these questions try to uncover the mindset of a candidate. For the full list, please check it out here.
- What do you do differently than other people in your occupation?
- Describe a work-related problem you had to face recently. What procedures did you use to deal with it?
- Describe when you had to pitch a proposal. How did you do … and why do you think it went that way?
- Have you ever done any public speaking? How did it work out?
- Tell me about a time you had to gain the cooperation of a group over which you had little authority. How effective were you?
- What strategies have you found work best when trying to sway someone to your point of view?
- How do you develop short-range plans for your organization? Long-range?
- Describe your toughest sales experiences. Did you make the sale?
- How did you gain the technical knowledge you need to do your job?
- What is the most important development in your field today? What impact do you think it will have?
- To what job-related organizations do you belong? What seminars have you attended
- What skills do you enjoy using?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What makes you stand out?
- Are you familiar with our corporate culture? How would you fit in?
9. Discover an Applicant Learning Style
Main Point: learn what to expect from applicants by recognizing how they learn.
This tip works especially well for jobs that require lots of training: discover how an applicant learns. In turn, you can more effectively train your employees based on their learning style.
Is your applicant a better listener? Does she learn better when she sees diagrams and charts? Does he learn better when he physically tries out the problem? Does she need to think before approaching the problem?
As I said before, when I was a freshman undergraduate, I needed a job, and my friend’s Valvoline was hiring. I was terrible with my hands: I couldn’t tell a wrench from a winch.
So I was physically unprepared to work as a service mechanic at an oil-changing garage. And when the first day came, I showed it, too.
We changed oil in ten minutes or less. Like a fast-food franchise, we were always on our feet, serving customers, getting our hands dirty, stopping for nothing except injuries. I had no idea what to expect. So when that first car of the day rolled into our shop, my manager Marcus showed me his method.
“Ight, first ya check ya fluids, brake fluid, washer fluid—always remember to top ya washer fluid—power steering, transmission fluid—this needs to be a strawberry pink. If it’s black, document and try to sell a service to the customer. Okay, now we check our tires, pump em to 32, just like this. Then check the belt, the battery, and the lights. Then put ya oil in. Any questions?”
No I didn’t have any questions. I was still trying to figure out what he meant by “transmission.”
The next car came into the shop. “Alright,” Marcus turned to me, “your turn.”
That day was a disaster. Now, not to self-justify my ways, but had Marcus known my learning style, he could have more effectively trained me. Marcus should have written down the steps—lingustic—or showed me diagrams—spatial.
So, knowing your applicant’s learning style is indispensable for recruitment, as it informs your expectations.
Conduct Creative Interviews
MI Theory opens so many avenues for creative hiring. Inspired by Gardner’s own suggestions, this section explores three ideas for better recruitment through MI sensitive interviews. Of course, many more ideas can come from this theory, and I am interested in what others have to say. What creative interviews can you imagine using MI theory? Have you tried to change your interview process with MI theory? If so, how effective was it?
10. Recruit with Representative Objects
Main Point: use objects that represent different intelligences to test applicants.
This one comes straight from Gardner’s test experiment, “Spectrum.” Now, remember: MI theory is not first and foremost concerned with recruitment. Gardner created the theory to change standardized education models. In Spectrum, Gardner placed children in a classroom with “rich and engaging material that evoke the use of a range of intelligences” (Multiple Intelligences). Instead of tests that implicitly measured linguistic skills, Gardner used “representational objects” to measure all intelligences.
The same can be applied to recruitment. Instead of usual “sit and talk” interview, you can place your candidates in a room full of objects that represent different intelligences.
As an example of this method, consider this procedure recommended by Gardner himself. The following paragraphs are found in Multiple Intelligence. I quote him in full:
- Put a job applicant or an employee in a room stocked with a variety of materials and tasks that appeal to different intelligences. Materials might include books or books-on-tape for linguistic intelligence; CDs for instruments or musical; a self-development journal for intrapersonal; a coworker (or put two applicants together) for interpersonal; model-building materials for bodily-kinesthetic; and drawing materials or maze for spatial. Tasks might include writing a story or giving a speech, solving business math or logic problems, reorganizing a file drawer, interpreting or drawing an image. This list only provides examples; it is not intended to be exhaustive. 0
- The objective is to observe the person in the room for an hour or so. What does the person gravitate toward on his or her own accord? How does the person interact with the different materials? Which tasks seem easier or harder to complete? Toward which problems does the person gravitate, and which materials does he or she deploy?
- After the allotted time has passed, ask the person what the experience was like from his or her perspective; the person’s answer should supply additional clues about intellectual preferences and abilities.
11. Recruit with Advanced Test Scenarios
Main Point: use virtual scenarios to rest the strength of your applicant’s intelligences.
In the previous section, we talked about using representational objects to discover an applicant’s strengths. This objects are physical, placed in a room, and observed by you.
But do the objects have to be physical? And do you have to be present during the test? Absolutely not. We are all tech savvy these days, right?
Now, this may sound crazy, but it could work. Use virtual scenarios online to test candidate’s intelligence.
For instance, before my interview with Valvoline, I took a test. In this test, I was placed in hypothetical scenarios. Each scenario asked me to count money, or talk with a customer about a service, or apply an adequate method to solving a problem. No matter what the scenario, the point was clear: Valvoline was testing my intelligence.
Using virtual scenarios to test applicant’s intelligence is a brilliant idea. Create a space where the intelligences are tested for. Online.
Since no one is doing this just yet, you can be very creative with your approach. For instance, last week, I saw a YouTube commercial for “MineCraft.” As I watched, I noticed several of the intelligences being used. Building houses enacted the spatial intelligence. Gathering followers enacted the interpersonal intelligence. Communicating to others enacts linguistic intelligence. Using MineCraft—or something like it—for hiring may prove beneficial in future years.
12. Better Interpret the Role of “Experience”
Main Point: use stories—and storytelling method—to better evaluate a candidate’s “relevant experience.”
Many times, recruiters use “relevant experience” to evaluate an applicant. But what does this mean? And why do we use experience to evaluate our candidates?
Fortunately, Gardner touches on “experience” frequently. Gardner says, “How can managers conducting job interviews or performance evaluations learn about experiences that are meaningful, and how can applicants or employees convey them? One powerful way is through stories; both the content of narratives and the ways in which they are conveyed can illustrate experiences” (Multiple Intelligences).
Gardner offers a potential interview guide for evaluating stories. Again, I quote him in full:
- Avoid general descriptions of past work, as are often given on resumes. Instead, focus on events. What happened? Then what happened? What worked or didn’t work? Why do you think that is so? What did you think about the event at the time? What do you think about the event now? What would you notice or do differently if you could relive it? What’s the “bottom line” or key theme of this event?
- Listen now only to what the person is saying, but also how he or she is saying it. Does the person tend to convey details that are visual (“I saw…”) or auditory (“I heard…”) or kinesthetic (“I felt…” or “I grasp that…”) or logical (“I figure…” or “I infer…”)? How and how well does she spatially orient herself in relation to objects or others who were there? Is she more concerned with her personal meaning (intrapersonal) or the event’s impact on others (interpersonal)? How elaborate is the language used? How rhythmic is the narrative? Does the story proceed logically, or from different people’s perspectives (interpersonal and/or spatial), or according to larger themes (existential)?
- In the telling, does the person include a lot of body language (kinesthetic) or diagrams (spatial or logical) or word-picture descriptions (spatial)? How do these different aspects of telling enhance, balance, or conflict with each other (how integrated are the person’s intelligence)? What are the changes in the perception or evaluation of the event since it occurred? What does the bottom line emphasize?
Multiple Intelligences Enhances Recruitment
This theory has so much to it. Educating your staff on MI theory, or having them take a free MI test, may help. But most of all, take these tips to heart. Practice them, use them, brood on them. Most importantly, tell us what you think. Are these helpful? Is there too much theory here? Can this theory be used to enhance recruitment? Also: have you used MI theory in your recruitment? If so, how did it help? How can it be improved?