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What Gold Miners Know That Hiring Managers Don’t


Gold mining and hiring the best have a lot in common: you have to do a lot of digging, prospecting, and searching while using the right tools. With the right tools, your chances of finding nuggets are much greater and by using the right tools when hiring, you have a much better chance of finding the right fit for an open position.

Experience/Education: The Look-At-The-Ground Method

gold-minerSparking the Gold Rush of 1849, James Marshall found gold nuggets near Sutter’s Mill that were simply lying on the ground. No real effort was needed other than looking in the right spot, bending over, and picking them up.

“Spotting” the right candidate using their experience and/or education is a lot like trying to find gold lying on the ground. You may find it; you may not. Experience and education are still important factors in talent selection, but their dependability as the sole methods of finding great employees has severely diminished.

Interviewing: The Gold Pan

After all the gold lying on the surface of the ground had been scavenged, miners began using gold pans. They’d scoop up a pan full of creek sediment and water, swirl it around and by shaking the pan, encourage the heavier gold to sink to the bottom. By carefully sloshing the water and lighter material out, only the gold and some heavy black sand would remain. Miners, were “interviewing” each pan and each miner had his/her own technique.

Gold-miner-2But interviewing job candidates is an extremely imprecise science. Humans are horrible at evaluating other humans, particularly ones they’ve only read about on paper (resume/application) and actually met just 30 short minutes ago. The interviewees are better prepared for the interviewers MAGIC QUESTIONS than ever before and interviewers are notorious for allowing social constructs, bias, and personal preferences influence their ratings and decisions. Research has shown that, even when the interviewer KNOWS they’re being tested on bias, certain physical features or characteristics still influence their ratings. Other research shows that interviewers tend to prefer certain characteristics in ALL interviewees whether those characteristics have any relevance to the job or not.

Mark Zuckerberg got LinkedIn all in a tizzy with his idea that he would only hire someone if HE HIMSELF would work for them. For starters, how does he know? He’s never worked FOR anyone so he has absolutely nothing to base that on. Second, he’s depending on his own ability to evaluate a human and every piece of evidence we have says that humans are horrible at rating another’s ability to perform at a job. Mark needs better tools than just trusting his gut. I have a feeling he has them, it was just the Internet that got all abuzz with his claim because everyone wants a shortcut.

Assessments: The Sluice Box

sluiceOnce miners realized panning was a slower and tedious process, they invented the sluice box. A sluice box is an elongated tray that is open at both ends. The miner would divert water to run through the sluice box and then process buckets of stream sediment or other dirt through the sluice. A good sluice box will have riffles, small barriers to the water flow which create eddies in the water, and allows the heavier material (black sand and gold) a chance to drop to the bottom, behind the riffles. The more riffles, the more gold a miner can catch. Virtually all gold mining today, regardless of size, uses some form of a sluice box.

What is a riffle in terms of hiring? It’s a single assessment. Many employers and assessment companies today use a single riffle. Just like a poorly constructed sluice lets a very large quantity of gold pass right on through the sluice and back out into the stream, a singular assessment may cause you to pass on fantastic candidates that could be ideal for your firm. But just like you can count on another miner eventually finding the gold you passed up, a great candidate will be found by another employer … maybe even your competitor?

A Key Point – You Still Need To Interview

Once all the material had run through the sluice, the miner would rinse it into a gold pan and delicately coax out every little flake of gold. A fully structured interview that follows the law and is fair to each candidate is a vital part of the hiring process. But it can’t be the only part either.

The Difference Between Mining and Hiring?

And there’s the biggest difference between gold mining practices and hiring practices. Gold miners use more riffles to catch more gold. Hiring managers cannot be content with the STATUS QUO, trust their gut, use outdated interview schemes and questions, or rely on a single assessment product that gives them a one-deminsional view of a job candidate. The stakes are too high.

The more riffles (assessment sciences used), the greater your chances of finding the golden candidate you’re looking for:

  1. DISC assessments. Measured in four proportions: dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance, DISC behaviors reveal how an individual will perform, including what value he or she will bring to a team, his or her ideal environment and possible limitations he or she may face. (As me about the 15 differentiators between DISC assessment companies)
  2. Motivators AND De-Motivators assessments. (the driving forces behind every decision). Motivators are the windows through which an individual views the world, thereby driving his or her Behaviors. Motivators reveal why an individual acts a certain way – what motivates one to perform a job.
  3. Acumen Capacity Index. Acumen is assessed using all three dimensions of thought, analyzing both world and self-views:
    • extrinsically
    • intrinsically
    • systemically

    Acumen, or a person’s keenness and depth of perception, will identify how a person thinks and makes decisions and will clarify one’s natural abilities or capacities.

  4. Core-skills and Competencies. Measuring 23 research-based personal skills directly related to the business environment, Competencies are defined on three levels: well developed, developed, moderately developed, needs development. Applied in conjunction with a job benchmark, Competencies ensure the inherent skills of each individual match the soft skills required by the job.
  5. Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Measured in five areas within interpersonal and intra-personal intelligence, Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EQ) is an individual’s ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity.

Using all FIVE sciences to give you the full picture of a job candidate, whether internal or external, will help you figure out who is the best fit for any position. It will help you uncover whether that person will be a mediocre performer. It will help you decide if this person will be a good cultural fit.

And in the end, it will help you understand how best to retain that golden candidate you searched for.

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Certified as a Professional Behavioral, Motivators, and Emotional Intelligence Analyst, Ron Haynes specializes in using the science of TTI’s TriMetrix HD to help companies select and develop their top talent, create job benchmark solutions, and implement succession planning.

He has recently developed an auditing process to help organizations more accurately calculate true cost of employee turnover. It’s staggeringly higher than you think.

Need a solution to your employee challenges? Contact him at or at 870-761-7881.