Do you have the information you need to make the best hiring decision?
As industry landscapes continue to shift, the requirements and expectations surrounding successful team roles are evolving. Even if you consistently receive top-notch resumes and stellar references, you need to find other ways to identify the most basic components necessary for job success.
While people have been taking career surveys for generations to help guide their career paths, employers often fail to use the same information to help them decide who to hire. Thanks to Christopher Nye, professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, there’s a clear connection for both sides of the equation via Holland Code theory.
Holland Code Theory
Dr. John L. Holland was a psychologist in the mid-1900s. He is best known for developing a system of career classification in the 1950s. Proposing that there are 6 broad categories that can be used to classify careers, the Holland Code provides a way for people to describe their work interests or motivations in the same set of categories–allowing them to find careers that match their interests.
Why is that important? Because employees who are interested in their jobs have been shown to consistently outperform their less interested counterparts. This fact may seem obvious at first glance. Unfortunately it highlights a very significant oversight most of us have in our hiring processes. How do we know which candidates are interested in the job opening and which are not? Most of us assume that if they applied, they’re interested. But are they? Or are they more interested in having any job over no job? While this value sort is appropriate for the individual, it can be destructive to the organization because it frequently leads to the poor work performance and high turnover rates companies are desperately trying to correct.
A 2011 Robert Half Survey found that the two most common factors suspected in failed hires were (1) a poor skills match, and (2) unclear performance objectives. Implementing the use of the Holland Code can address both of these factors. There is more to a candidate’s skill than functional or cognitive abilities, and for an organization to know what skills they are really looking for in a candidate, they must first identify the performance objectives.
Adding an assessment based on Holland Code theory into your hiring process can make powerful improvements in your hiring decisions. My guess is that the Holland Code is often overlooked as a useful assessment because of its simplicity. People are complex. Jobs are complex. It stands to reason that interests should be measured in a complex way. And that is actually where the hidden power of the Holland Code shines. To return to Nye’s study, the key is in the idea that no one is just one category–Realistic, Investigative, etc.–and neither is a particular job. Both people and the roles they fulfill are made up of a combination of interests, and different interests draw from different aspects of a job for satisfaction.
Matching candidate interests to the interests required for job performance within a specific role is a smart move. Just look at the clarity this information can bring.
These are the “Doers” of the work world. They are motivated by their interest of using physical skill in their work. With a drive to increase their dexterity and mechanical ingenuity, this interest group has a strong desire to solve concrete problems with masterful physical skill. As a result, they tend to be quite skilled in mechanical ability or ingenuity, problem-solving with tools and machines, and physical strength and aptitude with outdoor adventure activities. Building, repairing, using machines or tools, and taking action to produce tangible results can keep them happily engaged in work for a very long time.
When paired with other interests, the physical skill takes on new focus:
- Realistic – Investigative: uses physical skill and intellect to acquire and apply specialized knowledge to challenging problems through innovative solutions
- Realistic – Artistic: uses physical skill and an original idea moving from project to project, working in a hands-on and creative capacity to turn one thing into something else that serves an important, yet delightful purpose
- Realistic – Social: uses physical skill and service to interact with a wide variety of people on a regular basis
- Realistic – Enterprising: uses physical skill and influence to lead the group to accomplish the mission
- Realistic – Conventional: uses physical skill and structure to tune in to how things are supposed to work, patiently figure out why they don’t, and see the fixes through to their solutions
This group of people are the “Thinkers” of the workforce. They are motivated by their love of intellectual challenge and analysis. Genuinely desiring to understand and explore ideas that may lead to new solutions for complex problems, they are always driving to increase their knowledge. As a result, they tend to be quite comfortable in areas of math, science, technology, or other logical systems of thought. Analyzing data, conducting research, interpreting the results, and finding other sources to investigate can provide great job satisfaction for this group.
When paired with other interests, the intellectual skill takes on new focus:
- Investigative – Realistic: though similar to the Realistic-Investigatives, this combo leads out with the intellect and supports it with the use of physical skill to explore the unknown, test hypotheses, and find new solutions to reach important goals
- Investigative – Artistic: uses intellect and an original idea to understand and explain how the world works
- Investigative – Social: uses intellect and service to make a difference for others
- Investigative – Enterprising: uses intellect and persuasion to size up complex challenges, apply strategic solutions in a way no one has thought of before, and then lobby for support to make it happen
- Investigative – Conventional: uses intellect and structure to dig into a clearly defined research project, compile pertinent data into a format that allows it to be carefully analyzed and studied for significant decision making
These are the “Creators” of the work world. They are motivated by their love of ideas and self-expression. With a drive to relate to the world through creative expression, this group has the ability to challenge common assumptions, think outside the box, and try something original. Often they are skilled in areas of visual art and design, performance, music, writing, or language. It is the opportunities for creative expression that keeps them engaged day after day.
When paired with other interests, the creative skill takes on new focus:
- Artistic – Realistic: though similar to the Realistic-Artistic, this combo leads out with the original idea and supports it with the use of physical skill to see things as they should be and work tenaciously to make it so
- Artistic – Investigative: though similar to the Investigative-Artistic, this combo leads out with the original idea and supports it with the use of intellect and analysis, using language to persuade, inform, enlighten, and entertain
- Artistic – Social: uses an original idea and service, loving both art and people, using one to develop the other
- Artistic – Enterprising: uses an original idea and influence to capture the audience’s attention, deliver an engaging presentation, and persuade everyone on the big idea
- Artistic – Conventional: uses an original idea and structure to apply their sharp eye for detail, strong desire to organize, and intense drive for perfection
The Socials are the “Helpers” found in every industry. They are motivated by the desire to help others. Teaching and caring for people comes from a genuine desire to strengthen the interpersonal connections that can make the world a better place. As a result, they tend to be quite comfortable in areas of teaching, counseling, human resources, or other personal care industries.Teamwork, sharing responsibilities, teaching or training, community service, and solving problems through discussion of experience and feelings can boost their engagement, satisfaction, and longevity in your organization.
When paired with other interests, the service skill takes on new focus:
- Social – Realistic: though similar to the Realistic-Social, this combo leads out with service and supports it with the use of physical skill to evaluate individuals, push them just beyond their physical limits, yet know when to stop because of legitimate limitations
- Social – Investigative: though similar to the Investigative-Social, this combo leads out with service and supports it with the use of intellect and analysis to solve problems and help improve the lives of others
- Social – Artistic: though similar to the Artistic-Social, this combo leads out with service and supports it with the use of original ideas to be the most help to the person right in front of them at that moment
- Social – Enterprising: uses service and influence to collaborate with people–solve meaningful problems, create a purposeful experience, or tackle an exciting project–in pursuit of a common goal
- Social – Conventional: uses a service and structure to be warm and welcoming while managing the details and enforcing structure, order, and process
These are the “Persuaders” in the workplace. They are motivated by their enjoyment of persuading, influencing, and often leading. The drive to increase their influence comes from a genuine desire to be the ones who make the tough decisions and lead others to accomplish big goals. As a result, they tend to be quite comfortable in areas of business, politics, entrepreneurship, or other areas of leadership. Motivating, leading groups, strategizing, giving speeches, persuading, entertaining clients, marketing, and finding sources of profit can keep them focused, satisfied, and productive.
When paired with other interests, the influence skill takes on new focus:
- Enterprising – Realistic: though similar to the Realistic-Enterprising, this combo leads out with influence and supports it with the use of physical skill for powerful deal-making ability
- Enterprising – Investigative: though similar to the Investigative-Enterprising, this combo leads out with influence and supports it with the use of intellect and analysis to see the possibilities, design a plan, and then work hard to bring it into reality
- Enterprising – Artistic: though similar to the Artistic-Enterprising, this combo leads out with influence and supports it with the use of original ideas to dream big and passionately sell others on a winning plan, key players, and necessary funding
- Enterprising – Social: though similar to the Social-Enterprising, this combo leads out with influence and supports it with service to bring people together, connect with them, and lead them to work together for the collective good
- Enterprising – Conventional: uses influence and structure to bring dreams into reality by getting the project organized, developing a detailed plan of attack, delegating responsibilities to others, and pushing it all forward until the goal has been achieved
The final group are the “Organizers” in the world of work. They are motivated by their love of creating order and structure. Excellently delivering predictable and accurate results that meet expectations is the drive behind their organizing skills. As a result, they tend to be quite comfortable in all areas, industries, or fields as long as the company or group is structured–or truly desires to be so. Analyzing data, working with numbers, managing systems or processes, and creating order can keep them actively producing for your organization far into the future.
When paired with other interests, the organizing skill takes on new focus:
- Conventional – Realistic: though similar to the Realistic-Conventional, this combo leads out with structure and supports it with the use of physical skill to pay such attention to detail when organizing and tracking physical inventory or processes that abuse, waste, and inefficiencies are eliminated
- Conventional – Investigative: though similar to the Investigative-Conventional, this combo leads out with structure and supports it with the use of intellect and analysis to scrutinize charts, contracts, maps, numbers, or records to find the information everyone else missed
- Conventional – Artistic: though similar to the Artistic-Conventional, this combo leads out with structure and supports it with the use of original ideas to appreciate beauty and creativity while feeling a strong pull to impose order and structure on it
- Conventional – Social: though similar to the Social-Conventional, this combo leads out with structure and supports it with service to care for others by keeping things organized and managing important details
- Conventional – Enterprising: though similar to the Enterprising-Conventional, this combo leads out with structure and supports it with influence to use a strong attention to detail when directing or coordinating programs in which management challenges and flaws are identified and fixed for optimum efficiency
With these descriptions, it’s easy to see that an interest assessment like the Holland Code is a key part of evaluating Person-Environment fit. Common sense and research supports the idea. With so much at risk in the hiring decisions, checking rather than assuming or ignoring interest just makes sense.
We want to hear from you! Have you considered using the Holland Code in your hiring process? Tell us about it in the comments.