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A talent scout for a professional baseball team discusses spotting talent with a VP of People from a San Francisco Tech Company. We talk about finding diamonds in the rough, evaluating for future potential, and combatting bias in the hiring process. Hear what Dr. Heather Doshay, VP of People from Webflow, and Ryan Leake, the Southwest Regional Scouting Supervisor for the Houston Astros take into account when they’re looking for fantastic people to join their teams.
Katarina Jones: An organization is only as good as its people. So it’s important to be able to find great team members who are excited to be there and motivated to do their jobs. On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about spotting talent. And as always, we’ll be looking at it from two diverse perspectives. We’ll be speaking with an athletic talent scout for professional baseball team.
Ryan Leake: My name is Ryan Leake. I’m the Southwest regional scouting supervisor for the Houston Astros. 2017 world champions.
Katarina Jones: And we’ll be comparing and contrasting his perspective with someone that has been in the business talent world for many years.
Heather Doshay: My name is Heather Doshay and I’m the VP people at Webflow, a software distributed around the world, where I lead our people, team operations, IT, EA and of course for this topic, talent and recruiting.
Katarina Jones: Both of these people have to recognize natural talent, think about transferable skills, build a pipeline, and get people excited about their organization. So let’s see what the two of them had to say.
From a business perspective of recruiting people and from an athletics perspective, what are some of the similarities? What are some of the differences?
Ryan Leake: I’ve done, quote unquote, “recruiting” on the collegiate side of the sport before and now my title or my role is more entrenched in observing and being an objective scout. So I’m essentially charged with looking at what we call the five tools of the sport.
So you’re trying to keep it objective and look through a certain lens to see what kind of objective talent these kids have. I would surmise that on your side of things, you have to sort of pare things down. When you have this large pool of people that are vying for a job that you have to whittle it down somehow. You can’t get too deep with a thousand different people and really get down to the nitty gritty of who they are, because it just takes too much time. So we have ways of thin-slicing talent, thin-slicing what we’re looking for. We essentially call those five tools and it’s, not to get too baseball dorky, but how they run, how they throw, how they hit, how they defend, and how much power they have.
Through an objective lens, you can sort of get a picture of what kind of profile this person has. That’s the criteria that we work off of this sort of pare down thousands and thousands of names down to a pool of a couple of hundred to then get deeper and deeper into who that person is and how they might fit into our vocation, which is a sport.
Heather Doshay: It’s really interesting. The way you framed that just now, because I had written down some notes of what I assumed, and my answer has changed, even just hearing what you described. So my thought originally was at the very highest level that we both just have these teams and our teams need to be balanced by having certain skill sets that are stronger or whatever than others and balance everybody out, and every skill set or competency that we’re looking for to fill a gap on that team, we can then go ahead and find people. And so I felt like at a very high level, it’s pretty similar, but when you dial in how you get there might look very different. And so I think our, how might be different, but hearing that it actually wasn’t that different.
It’s just probably, one click further, a little bit different.
Katarina Jones: It’s interesting to hear what you were saying about getting really specific about what you’re looking for, the thin-slicing as you were talking about. And that’s pretty similar Heather, in terms of recruiting, like getting really specific, like what do we really want and how do we then go out and find that?
Heather Doshay: Totally. Yeah. I mean, there’s. You know, tons of different roles at a tech company and there’s different departments, different kind of skill sets that you’re looking for, but ultimately to be able to find great talent, you have to identify what those main core skill sets are or else you’re constantly going to be just comparing people without really a basis for what your rubric is. And so it’s interesting to hear that you have sort of the five things that are the same for everybody, no matter what their role is on that baseball team, because on our end we have different skillsets for everything, which makes it a little bit complicated. We have to decide first, “what are we even looking for?” and then go out and find people who might be able to fit those things and also balance with a lot of inbound applications, which I don’t know that you have the same kind of level of ability for baseball players to come in inbound and say, Hey, I want to be considered for the team. It seems like it’s a little bit more proactive, which, in the recruiting world, we call it sourcing. So we go out and we find the talent, which I assume is similar to scouting. And then we have this additional dynamic of people applying at the same time. Not necessarily with what we’re looking for, but they could be a good match in many ways. And so that’s where the real key comes in is being able to recognize the skillsets amongst a non traditional profile that’s applied.
Katarina Jones: I’m curious, when you are looking for talent, what’s important for people to think about as they’re kind of going through that process? And then also, how do you see people getting it wrong?
Ryan Leake: You can’t get married to the idea of just getting people to have people. Just getting a guy, to have a guy. The ego gets involved and the ego gets in the way quite a bit because, you know, I’m Ryan, I want my boss to know that I’m supplying a job force to my company. That I’m bringing players to the Astros, and so I get valued. I think that’s a huge problem in our world where, you know, there’s 40 rounds in a typical draft. This year’s draft was a different dynamic, but you’re sort of fighting with yourself to value and evaluate these players, not just to force your directors, to take somebody because you panic into thinking you need to prove your value. I think that’s probably the most glaring obstacle that I see people trying to overcome. And I apologize. I forget what the first part of your question was.
But I had to get that one out there that I think there’s this big push just to get somebody. If I don’t get somebody, I might not be able to function or I might get fired because I didn’t get anybody. And you end up getting someone you don’t really need or somebody that’s not a really good fit for the organization.
Katarina Jones: Yeah. The first part of my question was what’s important for people to think about as they’re looking for talent.
Ryan Leake: The objective factors. In our world, keeping that in mind and at the utmost developing a bare bones profile for what that player could become at the highest level of the sport. Or the highest level of our vocation. And not getting too muddled and too confused with, you know, where’s he from, what are his parents like? You know, is he a nice kid? Is he a bad kid? Like, what’s the makeup like? Like all that stuff you can figure out on down the road, if the organization deems him a fit for the team or for the system. So at the, at the very, very outset of the draft process and evaluating these guys, you just are trying to put profiles together.
And some of the profiles I’m talking about are is he an everyday center fielder in the major leagues? Is he an everyday catcher? If he’s a pitcher, can he fit into a starting rotation or Is he more of a guy that pitches at the backend of a bullpen?
You’re trying to put them into buckets so you don’t, you know, you don’t spend too much time on the ones that you don’t think have a very high ceiling, and then you get much, much deeper on the ones that carry some ceiling that can really push you towards the championship level at the highest point of the sport, which is the major leagues.
Heather Doshay: It’s so eerie. It’s so similar in so many ways, if you just change out some of the words, basically, you know, it’s funny. So I thought about this question as you were talking, and my first thought was like, okay, it’s really important to decide what you need before you start evaluating people because human biases are so strong.
And so when you meet someone, who’s super charming or dynamic versus someone who’s not a great interviewer, but that good kid versus bad kid kind of concept, like, your biases get in the way of what you’re actually looking for, which is a very specific skillset for somebody to do a job. And you have to start there and recognize that these other ones pieces may add to who the person is, and they might contribute, or they might detract in some ways, but those can’t be the basis for hire and or else you end up with some pretty tricky things.
Like I never want to consider what college somebody went to. In fact, I don’t believe maybe this is different for baseball, but I don’t believe someone for like 95% of the jobs that I hire for has a need to have a college degree to be good at the job, but it’s so easy to see like Harvard and be like, Oh, that’s flashy.
And then suddenly you’re like interested in this person, when you don’t actually know if there are good skillset match to the job. So the most important thing I think is , know what you need in advance. Decide why are we hiring this role in the first place? What is this role going to offer the company and think about who could fit that profile outside of even what the traditional, person might be.
So, you know, there’s certainly like skill sets and experiences that are acquired by being in a certain job over time at a company over time. And you can say, Oh, that’s really easy. Like maybe picking someone from a different major league team, you know exactly how they would perform on your team because of how they performed elsewhere.
But there could be someone who’s super scrappy. Who’s got all these great skill sets and they’re really raw, but they’re completely unrelated to the exact profile you typically hire for. And you sort of miss that profile if you’re looking at sort of the comfort of certain little indicators that you’ve liked in the past about somebody.
So I think it’s just so interesting because ultimately, I don’t really care if someone has a computer science degree if I know that they can code really well. Cause I know that college doesn’t even teach some of the languages that we’re working with at my company. And so what does it mean and how much biases sort of get in the way, if you sort of go with like, who do I like? Who do I connect with and all of that, which you kind of mentioned too. It’s easy to get sucked into who their parents are or whatever, which is I think sort of a weird parallel.
Ryan Leake: Yeah. Yeah. And, and background matters. But again, when you’re initially evaluating these kids and trying to put them into buckets and trying to, again, thin slice them, that’s all the nitty gritty of whether or not you think they’re gonna hit their ceiling. And try to figure out on down the road if we’re going to invest in them.
But, you talk about degree programs and colleges and our industry is guilty of the same exact thing where there’s a power five bias. The power five conferences at the college level. There is an inherent bias to just take the player from the high information school, where the resources are the best, where they’ve been proven against, quote unquote, “the best talent.” And then we’ll forget about the division twos, division threes, the NAI schools, because they’re just lesser known commodities.
And, you know, while Ryan has a good report on one of the players from a division three school, we’re just not comfortable taking that kid because the context isn’t there. Now, like you said, we can get deeper and we can try to sell that kid more. It’s just a longer process.
And that’s, that’s why getting it up the chain, getting people seen and trying to try to throw a flag like, Hey, this guy’s a priority. Like you need to go talk to him, you need to go see him. You know, that’s where your, your monetary evaluation of them and your valuation and the draft matters so much, is you’re that first point of contact, like I said, and the people up the chain need to know that regardless of where this kid goes to school, regardless of what other teams think about him, I think based off my personal projection models, that this kid could be a very impactful, big leaguer. He could eventually be a guy that, that carries us to a championship.
And that’s one of the beautiful things about what my position is. We can ignore where they go. We have to see everybody at every level. Because there’s diamonds in the rough everywhere. And one of the top picks in the draft this year, ironically went to Chapman, which is a division three school in Orange County.
And, some teams wrote him off because he was at a D3 school and other teams didn’t. So, I like that I’m in a group that enjoys dipping their tethers into a lot of different waters.
Heather Doshay: I think it’s actually more, fulfilling almost when you see someone succeed and they weren’t set up.
Like they didn’t go to like the very best school for baseball. Right? Like, Clemson, or I don’t remember. I’m trying to –
Ryan Leake: that’s a good one! That’s a really good one. Kudos.
Heather Doshay: I know, I know a little bit, but like, let’s say they went to Clemson and like, well, yeah, like they’re going to be successful no matter what.
And then when they are like, cool, gosh, we predicted that, you know? But then there’s someone that you find it like at like a Chapman or even like a UCSD, which was a D3 school. Right? And then suddenly you’re like, wait, this person’s actually like really talented, but they’ve never been cultivated or invested in a certain way, but they have like this very raw talent.
And if they join our team and they’re managed well, well guess what? Like they could actually be very successful and maybe more so than anyone else . And that’s what I really love about recruiting is, it’s like great when you can win over the talent from like Google or Airbnb or any of the top places where you know the talent’s been really vetted and they’ve done a great job and succeeded, but it’s so much more refreshing when you find someone with a super non-traditional profile and you watch them really thrive, and they have a career- defining moment with you because they didn’t have that chance before. And I think that’s just such a special feeling and I get the chills just thinking about what you can do for someone’s life when you make that a possibility for them.
It’s even more grand stakes in your world, because if in the minors versus the majors, it’s like a factor of like 10x the salary. Like for us, they would have found another job, but maybe they get a little bump, like 30, 40%. It’s a huge quality of life boost to be able to join a tech company from say a non-tech company.
Ryan Leake: Yeah. And, you know, piggybacking off of, off of that, so anecdotally speaking, one of my greatest successes in this side of things, cause I’ve worked in a lot of different sides of the sport of baseball, but I’ve been in scouting for six years now. And the best success to this point was exactly one of these kids that we’re talking about, where it was still a division one player there, but he was a fifth year senior. He had to go to three years of junior college. He went all the way from Phoenix to Hawaii to finish his eligibility. So he’s at the University Hawaii, and we were the only team that called him about a draft workout and then subsequently maintained interest throughout the draft.
And so in a 40 round draft, we took him to the 27th round, maybe the 26th round, but late. And got a thousand dollars. That was it. So essentially a plane ticket to go play. And he was in the 2017 draft class, which was a really vaunted, talented, deep pool of players. He was the first one to play in the major leagues.
We traded him. He didn’t get there with us, but he made it there with the Arizona Diamondbacks, his hometown team, his name’s Josh Rojas. And, so it’s yeah, it is. It’s one of those really, really intriguing, exciting, heart-warming moments that, hey, this was a totally non traditional pick. Nobody foresaw this kid doing anything and he’s the quickest one to reach the highest level in his entire draft class. So, I’m with you on the reward.
Heather Doshay: I wonder if you did see it. Cause I think like going back to sort of that original question, which is like, what do you look for? Like how do you find it? I think back to all the non-traditional picks that I’ve led in my career when I’m hiring people from my own team. And almost every time what it is,
they apply or they’ve applied to a completely different job or, and I just find them somehow. And they’ve been passed over. And I look at their resume, like, did you click into this? And what I love is that at least in our role, we have LinkedIn, which a resume can only tell the story that they’ve told. There’s no interaction. Whenever I can’t really understand what something is, I don’t know what that company is, like, sort of move on to the next. Right? But on LinkedIn, I can sort of click in to the company, understand the story, like make connections, look at the website for the company where they come from.
And that’s where I found some of the best folks is like, it’s sort of like, if I can tell the story in my head about why they’re right for this role, even if they haven’t been able to articulate it for themselves and to see that it’s like this magical moment where I think back to like, okay, so on my team now, or in my broader department, we have a recruiting coordinator on the team who, he applied for the job and recruiting coordinators are like the first level in recruiting.
It’s like the junior level. You do all the interview scheduling it’s sort of like sometimes straight from college it’s a role. Sometimes it’s a career changer who’s looking to get into tech and this person was a career changer. And, when you have a role that’s entry level, maybe this is something that’s different between baseball and the business world, but entry level roles get way more applications than everything else, because it’s just a broader pool of people who could be qualified.
And so you get like sometimes a thousand applications at a company my size, which is not a huge, huge tech company. A thousand applications for a role like that. And it’s very easy to get exhausted looking through. And it’s very easy to say like, okay, let’s just take all the people with recruiting coordination experience written in their resume and just go with them and X out everybody else. But if you take a little bit of time and you actually click through each person, I just go to their LinkedIn profiles directly. Because I can understand more of their story that way. Sometimes they have an interest that’s at the very bottom of their LinkedIn and I’m like, Oh, that’s super relevant.
Like, you love the space that we’re in. And that’s probably why you applied. Let’s talk, you know? Sean, I looked at his profile and this is a person on our team, he applied and it wasn’t really obvious. He wasn’t super junior in his career. He’d been working for maybe five, six years in public health administration doing project coordination for public health, like nonprofits.
And I thought, random, but like, I see the hard skill set. Like somebody like this coordination of projects in a super structured area is going to be very consistent and able to schedule stuff. So like, I get like that they could do it, but we have a whole different tool set. And like, why jobs specifically? Like, what do you care about recruiting?
And then I looked down to the next thing and I realized, Oh, he’s been doing this part time job that’s also, one is LinkedIn. And if you didn’t look at the dates, you wouldn’t even think it. And it said, “Let’s eat, comma, grandma.” And I thought. What’s that? Like, that’s a weird name for a company. Let’s Eat, Grandma?
So I clicked into it and it was a resume review company. And he had been part time for the entirety of his career in project management, doing resume review for fun on nights and weekends, basically for like extra money and with his friends. And I thought, wow, he has all the soft skills , which is like, you know, the scheduling, the coordination, being able to be organized and all that, like it’s proven from the other career, that’s totally different than this one.
And he has a passion for recruiting because he’s kind of doing it in a very different world, but he’s helping people with their interviews. Like he’s looked at a million resumes, you know? And so I thought, okay, I think this is the person. And I didn’t even meet him. I didn’t know anything about him.
I didn’t know a single drop of anything, but I saw those two bits and I’m like, Here’s a story and it makes sense to me. And then, you know, you flash back and he got the job across a thousand, like it was, maybe it wasn’t a thousand, but maybe like 600 applicants for this job. And he stood out against people who had recruiting coordination experience over and over and over again.
But because like, you could see the story and then you bring him in to interview and you’re like, wow, like you are awesome. And we would have never known it having not taken a chance on you and that’s, to me so much more exciting than just like hiring someone who’s been a recruiting coordinator before.
Ryan Leake: I mean, there’s a lot of parallels to how this Rojas situation came about. And the draft is the same. So you’re talking thousands of applicants or hundreds of applicants. And that’s the way that the draft pool works, is at the very top you have obviously a very specialized skillset and you’re talking about the highest end commodities, but throughout the minor league level, you’re trying to fill out five to nine more rosters of 35 players and so there’s a lot of people vying for those jobs. And they’re essentially entry level jobs like you’re talking about. So there’s a lot of qualified players. There’s a lot of qualified people and it’s hard.
When you’re at games every day for about five months in the spring, it’s hard to sift through and really focus on, well, what differentiates this guy for an entry level job versus the other one? Cause everybody wants them. There’s no question. They want them, they want their foot in the door. Because like I said, you climb that ladder and you get to the ultimate payout.
It’s worth it. It’s worth the five to six year journey to get there. But, like in this kid’s case, drawing off of what you’re saying and finding that little differentiation in a resume. Well, this kid is boiled down to how competitive he looked on a really non competitive team, in an essentially unwinnable environment.
He was the only kid that had a standout makeup characteristic, where, the whole group looked dead in the water. He was the only one who seemed invested energetically. He had a mind for it. And so it’s just one of those little things that piques your interest. And then you dig a little deeper. You invite him to a workout and he’s in this non-formal setting with other draft applicants or other, you know, draft potentials.
And that characteristic carried over where he looks like a man on a mission and he’s determined to make a difference and look different than the rest of them. And so we ultimately get down to draft time two weeks later, and his name popped up when, you know, a hundred other ones didn’t, because he differentiated himself just based off of a couple of traits.
Katarina Jones: It’s like an athlete training in a low oxygen environment. Right? So that then when they go perform in a different environment, they actually are faster, you know, perform even better.
Ryan Leake: That’s interesting! That’s interesting you bring that up because the performance metrics or performance measures of this particular player, they weren’t gaudy. They didn’t stand out. There were a couple of things that we look for: what’s called walk to strikeout ratio. He’s a hitter.
And so the, if you’re familiar with baseball statistics, the walk versus the strikeouts, so three strikes, you’re out four balls you walk to first base. He was very good in that particular measure. but in most other measures, he was really pedestrian. Physically, he wasn’t very imposing. Whereas most guys that you watch play on TV, they have some sort of physically imposing characteristic. Not overtly strong.
He was just kind of instinctual and skilled. And that’s kind of what differentiated him, is he didn’t fall into the same traps that hundreds of other players fall into. But yeah, it’s funny, like, performance-wise, he didn’t do it amongst a group of peers that tried to bring him down, but his energy level never changed.
And so then when he got into our system and he was pushed by people of like talent or even more talent, his performance just skyrocketed. And that’s, that’s why like, like I was saying earlier, he was the first person in his class, which is, it’s an unbelievable feat for a 26th round pick to be the first person in his class to reach the highest level. Like going from, you know, Heather, one of your, your entry-level applicants to, a GM in, in a year and a half. It just doesn’t happen. But his performance was, his performance curve was so steep that there was no stopping him. Like you couldn’t keep him back. You brought up the point of being pushed because he needed it. He needed it, and he didn’t. The push just made him realize how good he could be.
Heather Doshay: You know, I didn’t start in recruiting. I didn’t start in the people space and I didn’t start in tech. I spent about eight and a half years working in higher education university systems and like student affairs, for a long time, because I really wanted to help people succeed. And I didn’t know any other way cause I wasn’t in the workforce yet.
I didn’t realize that like a people operations, HR function could actually be dynamic. And so I was like, well, I’m going to go help college students. Cause I was just a college student. And so I know what that means. And I got a master’s degree in it and I worked really hard, but it was very structured. It held me back. It was too slow. I just didn’t feel empowered. I was at some point, just like phoning it in, you know, and I, my metrics wouldn’t have looked successful either.
I was just sort of like on this path and I was doing fine. But switching to tech was like this huge thing for me, because I first joined a very small startup where I didn’t have any support. I couldn’t really learn from the best of the best. It was tiny. And I just sort of like threw myself in as like a challenge and I completely failed.
And had I given up, I probably would have been back in higher education, but luckily, I applied to the company actually, where I met Katarina, called Hired. And I was able to learn from this wonderful man named Matt Greenberg, who basically saw something in me and my resume, despite how weird it looked.
Right? Like he saw my story just like I saw Sean’s story, and he brought me into the company and I was able for the first time to learn from people that would help me grow. And I was sort of like left free to do things and given opportunities I was never given before. And I grew so fast in that organization, so quickly that, you know, the next job I took, even though I’d never been an executive before and it was my first tech company, really, because that other one was 10 weeks long before I left. But I was able to move into executive roles right after. So suddenly I was a VP two times after doing this one opportunity. And it was the place where I give like my career defining credit to is like the chance when Matt gave me the chance to grow,
and I was set free and I was able to work with great people, like Katarina and other folks, it really helped me find myself. And I feel like I became this better, better version of me each time when you don’t expect that. And so I think growth can happen at any time. Like I didn’t join tech till I was 30.
But here I am and you know, three years later, so I joined tech at 30, at 33, I was a VP. And that’s pretty fast, right? To go from an entry level role alongside 22 year olds. And I’m like, I mean, I joined tech to three years later being a VP. It’s not common, but I think it’s sort of like people who take a chance on those diamonds in the rough.
Katarina Jones: What you said earlier, Ryan around I can’t remember exactly how you phrased it, but it was something about like seeing the potential or seeing the ceiling in somebody. Saying okay, well, where are they now? But then it’s not just can you do this role right now? It’s also, where will you grow to, if we give you the support and the growth opportunities, the sky’s the limit for you, right?
Ryan Leake: Yeah. Yeah. And that probably from an evaluative standpoint is the most important job that we have, is you know, you’re free to develop your own, method of projection or your own projection models. They still have to fit within the construct of a certain grading system that we use, which is an arbitrary 20 to 80 scale.
You could call it one through 10, but we use 20 through 80. And we do present grades relative to a major league population. And then we do future grades relative to a major league prop population. So hypothetically you’re going and watching a 17 year old kid, and you’re trying to look at him now and figure out what can he be in five, six years when he’s on a field full of grown men?
What’s he going to look like as a grown man? What’s that initial tool set that we evaluate and assess? What’s that gonna look like when he’s a grown man? Because I was actually doing some of these before we got on this call. I’m up in Ventura scouting some games. And so seeing kids and being like, Oh, well, his fastball is 88 miles an hour.
Major league average is up around 94 miles an hour, but there’s underlying physical traits that the frame that he carries, the way that his arm moves, the way that his body moves there are, there are ways for this kid to ascend physically to eventually reach and, you know, that’s where the projection come in, to eventually reach a certain velocity ceiling of closer to major league average.
And so that’s where our context and the time you spend around the game of baseball and the time you spend around different people, it helps you build that perspective and sort of give you confidence in your projection model. And that’s where we become important because you’re sitting around in a room full of other Scouts, talking about a kid that, well, you’re describing something presently that’s not that attractive, but then you’re saying that he could end up being the best player on our major league team.
Like tell us how he’s going to get there. And so you get to fill in all those blanks and that’s where, like I said, you build this profile early and then the process starts. Like I’m actually really interested in this kid, so I’m going to go talk to him, I’m going to talk to his coaches, I want to meet his parents.
I want to develop an understanding of his background. Is he intelligent? Has he studied? Like, is he not going to overthink things like those sorts of things really matter. You know, I was the opposite. I was an over-thinker and you know, I was a good player, but I had no ceiling because I was getting in my own way.
And you have to know those things about kids. Once you decide there’s a certain level of interest. And then you dig deep into who they are and whether or not it’s realistic that they reach that ceiling.
Katarina Jones: Heather, do you evaluate for potential? I mean, I guess you do, especially for those kind of diamonds in the rough you’re looking for, like, what could they do?
But I, you know, in the business world, you don’t have like a they’re 16, what can they be when they’re 30 sort of evaluation.
Heather Doshay: It’s so much more short term. Yeah.
Ryan Leake: But I assume in a sense, you’re looking for employees that desire Ascension or they have a little bit of a determination to get to another level or to develop personally, and professionally. I mean, in a sense, I guess that’s a similarity.
Heather Doshay: Yeah. I mean, it’s, well, it’s interesting. You don’t meet their parents, right? Like we don’t involve in their lives. Like it’s very much about them and the skill set. We want people to bring their whole selves into work, and we do encourage that once they’ve joined, but it’s sort of like, that’s not the evaluation cause that leads to so many, at least for us, like so many biases that are outside of the, I mean, I guess there is like psychology, you know, and, and performance in both the workplace and in athletics, but we just haven’t been trained to really think about it in that way. But what I sort of look at is they’re sort of like, you know, everybody sort of has like a bell curve in their career where they sort of don’t have the experience, then they start to gain it. And then once they have it, if they don’t continue to challenge themselves, they might kind of fall back flat again.
And so just because somebody has done the job six times doesn’t mean they’re actually the best person to do the job because they could be actually on their way out. So that passion and that desire and that drive that psychology is so important. And you can sort of get that, that in an interview, like there’s really simple things like,
even just how they treat people throughout the process. Like there are some things that you don’t necessarily measure in a formal sense in a scorecard, but they are on your mind. Like, I’ll ask always the same question. Typically when I kick off the very first interview with a candidate, because I want them to have a chance to tell their story.
And so I always start every interview with why Webflow, why now? Right? And previous companies, why that company, why now? And I want to know, like, why do they want this? Like, why is this the right opportunity for them? And if I see sort of like some flags in their resume that make me think maybe there is something that they don’t want about this opportunity, or maybe it’s like a backup choice or something.
I’ll try and test for that at times where, I mean, you know, I don’t typically put like passion as a competency on the scorecard. They’re usually soft skills and hard skills. Like, do they know how to do X thing? And do they have these like basic attributes that would make them good at the job. For example, like great writing skills or something.
And there’s always this missing piece, right? Some companies might do this, but I don’t ever really put this as a factor in the decision. But what I want to know is like, do they have passion and do they have drive? And are they going to approach this job like it’s an exciting opportunity that they can really, like, show, you know, their own growth board.
If they don’t see the growth for themselves, a lot of times it doesn’t work out in my experience. Like when people feel like this is a job, that’s like a step back, or this is a job that isn’t actually what they were going for, sometimes you make mistakes in the hiring process when you sort of just go on the skills, because what ends up happening is that person wasn’t really happy there.
And it’s important that they’re making the choice as much as you’re making the choice. It’s like, it’s a mutual fit. And so I do think, I wish we would infuse more in some ways, if we could find a way to do it without adding too many biases, I wish we could include more of the whole person and the personal to really understand the whole story of this person.
Because unfortunately, you know, there’s way too much bias from the evaluation side to really do that in an effective way. But I do think there is some benefit to it, if it can be figured out.
Ryan Leake: Yeah. And that goes back almost full circle to the first part that I was talking about in terms of avoiding getting your ego involved in liking a guy, just for the sake of liking a guy. Cause you go out and you evaluate them objectively to get their hard skills like you’re talking about and get that skeleton of a profile going. And if that looks really, really exciting when you’re projecting the ceiling on that skeleton profile, you want to avoid just going in for confirmation bias. Like, everything the kid says is gold. I’m not even really listening because I just want the player so bad that I’m not picking up on the red herrings that are all indicating that he’s not going to get there or vice versa. I’ve been guilty of the opposite where I really don’t like the player that much.
It’s just like an entry level profile for me at best, which you need them. But, there’s not a whole lot to really sink your teeth into when you’re talking about ascending and becoming a really valuable asset. But then if the organization identifies him as a potential asset, you have to give that kid the same amount of attention as the one who you really want, because the indicators might suggest that you’re missing something.
So, I guess, that’s where in our roles, we have to be so self aware that we’re not just doing things to pacify ourselves. And that we’re not just looking for the same thing over and over and over again, that we’re constantly looking for signals in a bunch of different static, you know?
Heather Doshay: Everything you just said is so true. And I wouldn’t change a single word of it and it would apply to my job like verbatim. So that’s fascinating.
Katarina Jones: So there you have it from the experts, a few key takeaways:
People often conflate background or pedigree with a person’s potential.
To combat that get really specific about the skills that you’re looking for, and what your team needs. And then use that in your hiring outreach, as well as your scoring rubric for interviews. That can help you reduce human bias, not to mention, find the right person for the job.
Don’t be too eager to fill a seat just because you’re short-handed. It’s tempting, but it’s worse to hire someone who doesn’t fit the role or the organization than not to hire someone at all.
Don’t fall prey to the idea that just because someone has, has done a job before that they are the best person to do it again. Instead, try to find the person that’s most excited and inspired by the job as they’ll be the most motivated.
And finally try to evaluate people on their growth potential, not just their current ability.
A huge thank you to Heather and to Ryan for sharing their wise insights with others.
If you liked this episode, please leave us a review. We’re hoping to bring these conversations to as many people as possible, and every review helps us do that.
Thanks for listening. I’m Katarina Jones and this has been OtherWise Insights.
Adventures by A Himitsu