What Einstein Can Teach Us about Recruiting

I know that sometimes it feels like we are all moving at the speed of light while dealing with massive amounts of info and expending a great deal of energy. We have requisitions needing attention, candidates wanting updates and upper management looking for better talent and quicker results while spending less. But Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2 is not what I am referring to.

In a recent blog, David Lavinsky of Growthink (www.growthink.com) talked about Einstein’s early career in the Swiss Patent Office where he was responsible for granting patents to inventors and budding entrepreneurs. Einstein’s feeling was that “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it.” If the inventor could explain his invention simply, Einstein granted a patent, if they could not explain it simply then no patent.

I started to think how this same concept could be applied to the whole process of Talent Acquisition.

Too often recruiters are attempting to fill job orders that have little to do with the actual job, attempting to source and screen candidates based on an ideal set of requirements and sometimes unrealistic salary/experience ratios. The hiring manager or HR can’t explain the job simply. The result, not often pretty, is that the recruiter presents a slate of candidates that he/she feels should be a fit but are often rejected by the hiring manager because they are not a fit, and often with little or no explanation.

To avoid this, our company uses our QS4 process of staging, sourcing, screening and selection. In the staging step we make sure that the hiring manager can explain the job simply, has a good understanding of the job requirements, is realistic about salary, education, experience, can sell the opportunity with the company and is open to interviewing candidates based on our filling his/her schedule, not on resume review.

Einstein’s approach can also be used with candidates. Candidates need to be able to simply explain who they are, what they have done, why they are looking, why they left their last job, what their references would say, what value they could bring to their next employer, what their near term and long term career goals are and why a company would want to hire them. If they can’t do any of the above, they don’t understand themselves.

In the screening and selection steps of our QS4 process, we make sure that all candidates who are presented to a hiring manager understand themselves; otherwise we do not present them.

So, what about Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2 ? It turns out that while working at the Swiss Patent Office, Einstein was doing some recruiting on the side. The formula was actually used to demonstrate what attributes to look for in hiring great talent and it initially looked like this.


Which stood for Great Employees = highly Motivated + Continuously learning + great Communicators. I think Einstein was on to something and who knows; he could have become a great recruiter.


One response to “What Einstein Can Teach Us about Recruiting

  1. Nice read! I totally agree with explain it simply. I have spent many years asking managers to forget their wish lists and tell me the three most important skills they want in their next hire. If they see these three skills they will interview. Most managers find it very difficult to eliminate the clutter in their job descriptions. It is almost as if they are so proud of creating such an incredible list they really want to believe there is a fit out there with all of their requests. If this were the case E = M+C+C would mean Employee=Miracle+Convincing+Con-man. There is a lot of truth to make it simple and understand what you are after.

    Thanks again for the read and happy blogging!

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