Hunting Purple Unicorns With HR Benchmark Assessments

by | Blog

Have you seen the movie ‘Air’ about Nike’s recruitment process of Michael Jordan, arguably the most talented basketball player of his time, if not all time? He was that rare individual who could do it all being equally talented in offense and defense. Sure Sam Bowie, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley also had the potential to be superstars, but Sonny Vaccaro from Nike went all-in on MJ because he saw Michael’s potential to exceed superstardom. Sonny saw the potential for greatness, or can we call it GOATness both on and off the court. 

In the recruiting world Michael Jordan is what we could call a purple unicorn. He was that rare ideal candidate who exceeded the benchmark for the role. He possessed all of the three critical elements needed:

  1. Skills
  2. Experience
  3. Intangible qualities needed to succeed

Add them all up and they equal the standard or benchmark someone needs to get close to GOAT potential. But how do you know you’ve got a solid benchmark for this success? Seems easy enough to create your own benchmark. The job description has all three of these elements and you can confirm with the role’s manager that’s all they need. Done and done (she says while dry-washing her hands). 

Hate to say it but creating a benchmark is not that simple. 2 things to think about:

  1. How do you accurately and confidently measure all 3 parts of a benchmark?
  2. How do you know your benchmark is proven to find you a winner? 

Let’s look at these 2 issues one at a time. Measuring skills and experience seems relatively simple. You can easily see if a candidate meets the skills and experience criteria on their resume, right?

Wrong.

Candidates Can Lie on Paper

Resumes can be loaded with misleading information, half-truths, and flat-out untruths. They are totally self-reporting and the author is interested in only one thing: impressing you. They’ll go to any and all lengths to do this. An experienced Chat GPT user can make themselves look great on paper.

You might think you’re pretty good at sniffing out lies on a resume, but we have news for you. Some candidates pay top dollar to have a professional write their resume, and those candidates might have been mediocre performers in their previous roles. You might also miss some really great performers who wrote their own resume, but did it poorly. 

Bottom line it’s tough to tell the difference, no matter how experienced a recruiter you may be. Do you really want that one good liar to make it through your recruiting process, get hired, only to be asked to exit after a few months when the manager realizes they presented themselves inaccurately? Just like that, there you are back at the beginning of the recruiting process… again.

As if that’s not bad enough, untruths can be found elsewhere in your recruiting process.  

Candidates Can Lie in Person

Maybe lie is a strong word here. Let’s use ‘misrepresent’ instead. There are some people who are just naturals at the interview process. They’re comfortable and easy-going during every interview. They’re prepared, answer all of your questions with confidence, tell great stories, and share relevant experiences from their past. Their DISC behavioral preferences could be working in their favor. They are likely higher on the I (Interactive scale) and could be considered people people. Higher I’s are typically good at interviewing.

Now let’s look at the reverse. Have you ever interviewed someone who came in incredibly uncomfortable, visibly sweating, or unprepared? Maybe their speech patterns were halting, they had a physical, repetitive ‘tick’, or they were so uncomfortable you wanted to get them through the interview as quickly as possible because it hurt to watch them squirm. You saw zero confidence and when asked to recount stories from their past, they just couldn’t. This individual is likely lower on the Interactive DISC scale and people connections come hard to them.

Does it make sense to discount someone for a role just because they lack people skills, especially when people skills might not be required for the job?

So if candidates can misrepresent themselves on paper and in person about the first must-have in a solid benchmarking process, skills and experience, how could you ever measure the second, those intangible qualities that lead to success in a role?

Use a Proven Benchmark

Pulling random intangible qualities based only on the job description or the thoughts of the manager can provide you a start to creating a benchmark, but we recommend adding in the experience of thousands of other managers. How do you get that? Use a proven benchmark that’s been tested and known to identify other top performers. 

DPP has proven benchmarks for literally hundreds of roles! Everything from admins to sales professionals, to operations, to owners. We’d start by helping you administer a thorough behavioral, motivational, and attributes profile to your applicants and then compare their results to the scores achieved by top performers in the role. This helps you uncover the truth beyond the resume and interview and get you to the heart of the individual. 

Your Michael Jordan’s are out there. Let DPP help you find them.