I was reading an article in The Economist on the wasted talents of people who have autism.
The article described the strengths of autistic adults, highlighting their analytical skills and ability to spot patterns or errors in data. It describes their extraordinary capacity to focus and an eye for detail. It explained that they excel in roles that require precision and repetition, and yet so many autistic adults are unemployed.
The article alluded to the fact that high unemployment among this population could be because they interview poorly (lack of eye contact, taking questions too literally, etc.), and because they lack work experience.
My point in writing this isn't only to educate regarding an untapped talent pool, but also to show that a candidate should be judged based on more than a one hour interview or presentation.
In running a business, leaders need to look beyond the obvious.
Twenty years ago when I entered the recruiting and staffing industry, and before software was common place and the ability to export data was integral to every company, there was a need for data-entry people. Companies needed ten thousand keystrokes. They needed a specific skillset, meaning experience.
Today, it's different, but the same.
We place people in jobs ranging from inside sales to computer programmers to accountants to human resources, and the majority of our clients initially ask for specific skills.
Today it's also about analytics. Companies want high growth potential people, who can also be off-the-charts analysts. However, people don't always come in perfect packages.
And when they lack a certain skillset, clients make excuses and sometimes will say, "I just don't know if we have a career path for him/her."
Our response: if your company executes on the vision and grows, there will be opportunity.
As entrepreneurs and executives, we think about hitting goals, raising money and obtaining clients. If those things happen, the company will grow, and as a result those individuals will grow, too.
Don't put your potential employees in a box before you even hire them. Let the employee execute and create their own career path.
Instead of always hiring candidates based on a skillset or experience, hire people based on their desire, intelligence, passion and work ethic. Ask questions based on the failures of others - find people who won't make the same mistakes as others have.
Perhaps it's finding people who don't always fit the "norm," that of society or your company's.