A decade or so ago another hit song started another hit meme.

The phrase ‘Am I more than you bargained for yet?’ might ring a bell.

Like many memes it has finally found its way onto clothing and bags, signalling a gentle decline in its currency.

But perhaps the sentiment, with its original potency, is still relevant.

Many workplace conversations currently revolve around the shortcomings of various recruitment processes.

A sense of disappointment connects these conversations.

Too much conformity, too much ‘ordinary’ amongst the candidates that make it through these dull and risk-averse processes is the conclusion.

The notion of a bargain is at the root of this: pinning down so precisely what is expected, demanded and offered that no surprise or development is possible.

Imagine two scenarios.

Scenario one has the recruiting team recognising a candidate’s qualities and noting that the candidate will ‘fit right in’.

Scenario two has the recruiting team recognising the candidate’s qualities, noting how unusual and special they are, and resolving to use them despite having (as yet) no idea where or how.

Sounds better, doesn’t it?

To get more than you bargained for – in a good way – then Scenario two is the way to go.

Bargains are so predictable.


What sort of process does your company use to recruit new team members?

More and more organisations are outsourcing their recruitment to ‘test centres’ and relying on a raft of psychometric tools to categorise and profile applicants.

Good luck with that.

(A parallel industry comes to life of course to train candidates how to ‘pass’ these tests.)

At a recent team day, we all fell to imagining more helpful ways of recruiting people you would really enjoy working with.

Interestingly, only half the team felt that checking on essential skills was necessary.

This sub group thought that skills could, largely, be taught.

But character traits in certain situations? Hard to change.

Here were some of the suggestions for successful recruitment to a team:

Imagine being trapped next to the candidate in the corner of a large boisterous table at the Christmas party. How does it feel? Want to chat and drink when there’s little chance of escape?

(A build on this idea was to imagine the party on a boat)

From sporty members of the team came the idea of playing any sport where personal performance over time is visible – golf or snooker perhaps – and note temper loss or quick-to-frustration tendencies.

And then the team became quite power mad.

Why not travel together with the candidate on public transport routes that are uncomfortable, crowded, prone to cancellation – under time pressure?

Look, it was all light hearted and during a break.

Yet I can’t get that last idea out of my mind.

If you find yourself asked to an interview on a rush hour station platform….

You heard it here first.