Chasing Unicorns

Part 1: Causeway Connect: The Early Days  

There is one moment in every person’s life when it comes to their career that they look back on after a while, realizing at present, that that was the moment which shaped how they spend each day at their work and the challenges they undertook.

For me it was a summer afternoon, one of the hottest ones we had all summer, and as I was finishing up an interview with my soon to be new directors and CEO and shaking off the last of my nervous butterflies, the CEO asked me to follow her outside the restaurant next to the (now old) Causeway Connect offices. We took a few steps and she stopped, slowly gazing at a dark dusty window pane. She asked me to move closer to the window and take a peek inside, with a cheeky smile. I took a look and saw a long empty space followed by a hallway that was blending with more open space.
My impression was stiff and I probably looked dazed at the time, searching for the reason why we were both staring at this empty huge room. ‘’All of this will be full of our new coworkers and clients, that you and I will somehow have to find ‘’ She said, in a completely calm tone, as sheer panic was taking over every fibre of my brain. Have I bitten off more than I could chew? I thought to myself. I mean my new boss just met me and she expects me to somehow be able to dive into the deep waters of recruitment and help her generate the best talent to fill In an entire office building !!??? But something in the way she glanced at the empty space and saw an entire company, a workplace, a mixture of dreams and fears being accomplished, was quite reassuring. A few minutes later my signature was on this small but monumental piece of paper, and so it all begun.

Almost 2 years, more than 1000 square meters and over 120 employees later, in between the ups and downs, the 4 am brainstorming sessions and the flights back and forth to London, we found ourselves reminiscing about that very occurrence, having a coffee break overlooking our new offices, filled with people of all backgrounds, and skills all eager to show us what they got.

So how did we do It?

Simple. We set ourselves on a quest to find the best.

On Recruitment and Finding the Best Candidates

One of my biggest decisions that even today is always in the back of my mind is: do I trust my gut when it comes to hiring new employees? 

Our instincts tend to make us form an opinion about someone within the first 10 seconds of us meeting them. From the moment a candidate walks in the conference room, the handshake and their introduction to the moment they sit down and get ready for the interview, a brief prediction of the outcome of the interview is already formed in the head of a recruiter.

But are these predictions supposed to dictate our opinion on what we as recruiters take out from the interview, and even on shortlisting the candidate?

In psychology, a first impression is an event where one person interacts with another for the first time and forms a mental image of that person. ( To a couple of psychology majors in our office, you know who you are, please try not to be too judgemental about the following, I am only starting to nibble at psychology J )

The rate at which different qualities are detected in first impressions may be linked to what has been important to survival from an evolutionary perspective. For example, trustworthiness and attractiveness were the two traits most quickly detected and evaluated in a study of human faces. But if evolution is about change and growth, shouldn’t we have grown and learned that something isn’t quite right about first impressions. Can they be easily manipulated with and tampered with?

Richard Nisbett, a psychologist from the University of Michigan concurs the following:

‘’The basis of illusion is that we are somehow confident that we are getting what is there, that we are able to read a person’s disposition…When you have an interview with someone and have an hour with them you don’t conceptualize that as taking a sample of a person’s behaviour, let alone a possibly biased sample which is what it is. What you think is that you are seeing a hologram, a small and fuzzy image but still the whole person.’’

So does that mean that most of the times on interviews is being spent in trying to confirm whatever first impression you had about the candidate in the first 10 seconds? And if that is the case then can you ever find the best candidates or are you just conforming with the image that you created of them being the best in those few seconds? What is the right strategy?

At Causeway Connect we tend to stick to these few steps:

  1. Do not give in the to the pressure, always fight for quality of candidates not quantity 
  2. Be Hands-on: you make sure you find your candidates, search your networks, expand the, join new online groups and societies, use your Linkedin and job boards
  3. Be objective: ask for a second opinion on the candidates, and have your team members assess them as well
  4. Look for the reason why your candidates decided to apply for your organization

So shall we examine each step in detail and see how we find our unicorn?

Stay tuned for PART 2


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