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Gamification of Talent Acquisition (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 1)

17 November 2016

This post is part of the Q&A Series: Agile Leadership Webinar «Agile HR | People Operations». 

We recently hosted Agile HR expert Fabiola Eyholzer for our Agile Leadership Webinars. In response to the high interest, Fabiola is answering an aggregation of the great questions we received from participants during the webinar.

In this part, Fabiola is answering your questions on hiring for Agile teams. If you have a question you would like featured in our Q&A Series, please submit to chudson@scrumalliance.com


How do you encourage recruiting managers to "go agile" with their hiring approach?

Building a vigorous workforce starts with identifying, attracting, and hiring the right people. But finding top people is increasingly demanding: 8 in 10 organizations already have difficulties finding great talents and unfilled positions cost the economy around US$ 160 billion a year. [Source: Insight Foresight 2015, Bounty Jobs]

Hiring professionals are familiar with these challenges. That is where Agile comes in: Agile is the new way of working - and the success rate of Agile speaks for itself. That makes Agile a strong magnet for talented people; and a company can build on that to create a strong employer brand and a high-quality recruitment process.

What is the difference between a job ad and a value description and why is it important?

An agile team is an interdisciplinary team that thrives on people from different backgrounds and characteristics working together. They bundle their collective strength and embrace diversity of thought. It is their experiences, skills, and mindsets combined that make them successful. The team becomes more important than the individual player and that must reflect in the way we advertise a job.

Traditional job ads focus on individual tasks as well as the individual and their background and skills. Agile value descriptions are different: They focus on the purpose of a team and tell the story why it was created. They talk about contributions and value; and reflect the behavior and attitude you are looking for.

How do you interview candidates for agile teams?

We have all heard (or even had to answer) traditional interview questions like these: Why should we hire you over the other applicants? If you were a superhero, who would you be? How honest are you? Etc.

The problem is: None of these questions help you understand how the attitude and cultural fit of a candidate – nor does it give them a good sense of your organization and what you stand for. Instead make sure to use questions that give you a better understanding of their agile fit and shows them what you care about. Here are some examples:

  • How successful have you been at partnering with others to generate creative solutions and plan collaborative strategies for success?
  • How did you course-correct when encountering roadblocks?
  • Were you able to flex your behavior when you realized the path you were on was not working?
  • What have you learned from success and failures in your career?

 How can we assess if a candidate has an agile mindset?

Professional expertise is important. But Agile teams prosper when they hire candidates with the right mindset. After all, their success depends on the collective and collaborative skills of the team.

The best way to test that, is by getting the team and the candidate together and have them work together. Hiring hackathons (with or without coding) are a great way to see your talents in action and experience first-hand what it will be like to partner up with a candidate.

And if you have several teams looking for new hires, join forces and organize something on a larger scale. This helps team building and boosts your employer brand. Because participants (internal and external alike) will leave (exhausted, but) energized and tell their friends about it.

Why do you suggest the hiring decision to be taken on team level?

Hiring in an Agile Enterprise is no longer about finding people with the right resume, but the ones who can match their expertise with the ability to thrive in a self-organizing responsive team. Talent acquisition must become a highly interactive and team-based approach.

That means, no hiring decision should be made without the backing of the team. After all, no employee can thrive without team support. It must be a shared responsibility; and the team must actively be involved. Or in other words: Agile is a team sport; consequently, recruitment must be a team sport too.

When the hiring authority is at the team level, what does HR do?

Creating a winning workforce is a core HR assignment. And even though they are not making the final hiring decision, HR guides and supports a hiring and onboarding process that is in line with agile thinking. They create a strong employer brand and act as people liaison to candidates.

As talent scouts they proactively (and continuously) connect with internal and external talents. HR has a deep understanding of the organization and its changing needs; and knows about upcoming vacancies and opportunities and match that with the talent pool.


Fabiola Eyholzer (CSPO, SPC 4.0) is an expert and thought leader in Lean | Agile People Operations – the 21st century HR approach – and CEO of Just Leading Solutions LLC, a New York-based consultancy for Agile HR.

Feel free to connect with Fabiola Twitter (@FabiolaEyholzer) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/fabiolaeyholzer). 

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