In other words, we set out to describe the job that we thought needed to be done and the skills and qualities we wanted the person to have. Of course, we all know that a job description is never fully comprehensive and a person specification assumes that only superheroes will apply.
"However, it's a good starting point for both the recruiter and the candidate!"
What we found, though, was that our vision of the role was intrinsically shaped by the person in front of us. Each candidate brought their own experience, attitudes and opinions.
Although the interview format was the same for all and we asked a standard set of questions, nonetheless the conversation took a different form each time. Each candidate took us off down a different avenue and made us look at the role through their eyes.
Even though our essential needs remained the same, they all had their own take on how to approach the role depending on their experience and personality. You might have thought that engineers would be very similar, after all, they have similar training, similar skill sets and a similar approach to problem-solving, but no; personality, character and - perhaps most of all - experience, exert a massive influence on the individual.
Once we'd interviewed, the next step in our selection process was to shortlist the candidates who had demonstrated that they had the essential skills to do the job.
That narrowed the field down a little further, but then we had a tough choice to make. Who was going to fit in best with the rest of the team? Who had more potential for development? Who could contribute in other areas? Who would bring innovation and who might be disruptive?
"Eventually, we selected someone who we believe will grow into the role, even though he didn't tick all the technical knowledge boxes!"
We took a long-term and a broad view, falling back on the old maxim that has stood recruiters in good stead before: select for the personal qualities you want (attitude, personality and character), then train for the skills you need.