The Harry Potter saga might seem an odd source of inspiration for a recruiter when looking at job candidates. After all, what does the story of a boy wizard fighting ultimate evil have to do with matching skills for talent acquisition? The truth is, fantasy stories almost always contain lessons applicable to our world. And thinking creatively opens up a different part of the brain, helping us examine challenges or issues under a different lens.
J.K. Rowling’s amazing books, and the iconic movie adaptations, are full of great characters who have many traits that organizations would find valuable. Let me put on my Sorting Hat and tell you about a few:
If you think about it, we don’t actually get to know Dumbledore very well, as an individual. The information we have on his background is gained peripherally, and he is rarely the center of the story. (Although that could change with the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel – yay!) As the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore is a clear example of a servant leader. He empowered Harry and his friends, giving them just enough information to allow them to solve problems on their own. He trusted them to do the work, and he supported them to accomplish it independently. He never “managed”; he never told them exactly how and what to do. True servant leadership takes the risk that employees can and will accomplish the goal and empowers them to do so. As an interviewer, if the role you are working to fill does not require specific leadership but you see these qualities, or even think you do, dig deeper. Listen to how they discuss any mentorship or leadership they may have provided without an official title. If you do hire that person, you must challenge them in their current capacity. No one grows by staying within their comfort zone.
Hermione is often described as a know-it-all or a smarty pants, but those descriptors sell her short. She’s intellectually curious, people! Without a doubt, she has an uncommon drive to be excellent, but there are many times when she does not have an answer and she spends hours in the library searching or studying. Early on in the series, she walks up to Harry and Ron and plops a giant old book down on the table saying that she checked it out from the library for "a bit of light reading." There is a collective eye roll from Harry and Ron – not because she is lying, but because she actually means it! She enjoys learning because she is intellectually curious, and in the end plays a vital role in the (spoiler alert!) demise of Voldemort. Whatever the mission of your business, you will be well served to consider the candidate with thoughtful, provocative questions. The candidate who has answers, and freely admits when they do not but are anxious to learn, has a natural talent that will be an asset to you and your team.
Introverts are often underappreciated, misunderstood and disliked. Americans especially cast a wary glance at their quieter fellows since we tend to be a gregarious and outgoing people. Luna is a completely non-traditional heroine – weird and comfortable being that way. Oftentimes quiet, when she does say something, it is far from what is expected. She makes jokes or references that no one gets, and often makes others around her uncomfortable because of her non-traditional beliefs. Yet none of that could hide that Luna is intelligent, capable, dedicated and loyal – a fabulous reminder that you can be part of a group even if you fit in quite differently. In interviews, introverts are usually on point. Their resumes are typically well thought out and well presented, and they answer your questions satisfactorily and have the experience to back up their answers. A more outgoing candidate might overshadow them, but they are perfect for certain roles and some teams. Look at the role itself and the current makeup of the team. You want balance and an organization that will complement itself by its parts. Introverts are essential to this.
Fred and George are geniuses with potions, short-term spells, gags and all things fun. On their own time, while working on their education, they develop their concepts and bring them to life. They take on their own marketing. They build a customer base. Then they take the plunge into business ownership despite the recession in the wizarding world. Entrepreneurs are veritable work horses, and what they hate the most is being bored. They want to make an impact! This kind of entrepreneurial spirit is often evident on a resume, and if you can demonstrate convincingly to the candidate that they can harness their spirit in your business and actually do as you promise, you both will be in for a mutually beneficial relationship.
While Harry Potter may be fiction, his world can still present some real-world truths, not the least of which is that, as an organization, you will benefit from diversity of thought. This is achieved through the people you hire.
Do you have a favorite Harry Potter character you would love to hire, and why?