Should you look beyond tried and tested talent pools?

Disney is casting the net wide for lead roles in the new ‘Star Wars’ film


Disney has been holding open auditions for lead roles in the new Star Wars film. When recruiting for important jobs, is it wise to cast the net wider than normal or should you focus on a more familiar cast of actors?


‘Non-exec roles offer the biggest opportunity to cast the net wide’

In general, one should always try to look beyond the obvious. But if a company is seeking a finance director, for instance, then an accountancy qualification or an MBA is almost mandatory so there is a limit to how wide the net can be cast. For a chief executive’s role, the candidate would be expected to have substantial business experience at a senior level. Of course, one can keep an open mind on the sector and also whether it will be somebody’s first chief executive role or not. Non-executive roles offer the biggest opportunity to cast the net wide.

The writer is chairman of Buchanan Harvey & Co

The author: Paul Falcone

In most instances, stick with a proven talent pool. You will benefit from a new hire who understands the ins and outs of your industry, the key players, and the culture that makes your industry unique. Casting the net too wide can lead to lengthened learning curves and stepping on landmines – too high a price to pay when talented labour is abundant. While it is true that restricting labour pools to industry rehires may feel limiting because of a lack of fresh ideas, hiring proven performers who think outside the box will help you find the balance you are looking for.

The writer is author of ‘96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire’

‘Information on unproven talent is limited and incomplete’

Hiring proven talent is advisable. Casting the net wider is risky because information on unproven talent is limited and incomplete, making it difficult to assess whether individuals are well matched to the demands of the job. Disney’s open auditions appear specifically intended to generate publicity by involving and engaging film fans. The risks of appointing unproven talent may be partly offset by appointing more experienced talent in support roles.

The writer is professor of human resource management at Cass Business School

The academic: Julian Birkinshaw

The only parties who benefit from focusing on a proven talent pool are the people already in that pool. So if you care about challenging the status quo and bringing fresh ideas into your company, cast a wide net. And keep your eyes open for the applicants with non-traditional CVs. Without this enlightened view, Sir Richard Branson would have been turned down for funding when he decided to launch an airline.

The writer is professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School

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