But now it’s time for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – otherwise known as NASA.
Founded in 1958 by the government of the United States, this agency has been at the forefront of civilisation’s quest to discover the vast galaxies of far away.
From the moon landing in 1969 to their more recent developments to land on Mars by 2030, there’s no doubt that NASA requires some of the most intelligent people in the world to make their innovative campaigns tick.
In fact, getting into NASA’s astronaut class is reported to be 74 times harder than getting into Harvard University. To put this into context, in 2017, 18,300 people applied for less than 15 highly coveted spots.
The question is; how can you generate the same interest and attract the star candidates to your business?
1. Understand your team
What a lot of businesses make the mistake of doing is rushing into the hiring process and forgetting to analyse what they have already. It’s kind of like if you go to the supermarket without checking the fridge or cupboards beforehand.
NASA has created a 4D system to help encourage diversity, openness and understanding within their agency.
This system consists of running assessments, workshops and coaching to get a better grip on the behaviours and performance of their current workforce.
This way, they can see where there is a gap in skills before they start their search for a new employee. After all, you wouldn’t want to hire a team of extroverts who all specialise in a similar field. Diversity and a broader spectrum of personalities and knowledge will only help NASA to make positive progress going forward.
With this in mind, try running quarterly workshops with a specialist trainer or the tools to analyse personality types. Monthly reviews should also be used to actually gather honest opinions from employees, instead of a simple tick box exercise on performance to keep HR happy.
Invest in the work culture, and you’ll create a more diversely successful team.
2. Get everyone involved
Leaving a recruitment agency to make all of the decisions on candidates doesn’t always work out very well.
Instead, try adopting NASA’s hands-on approach. According to a spokesperson of NASA, Stephanie Schierholz, they get everyone from HR to the astronaut office to help during the hiring process.
This will include narrowing down the pool of candidates by reviewing their attributes, education, decision-making skills, leadership abilities and much more.
Naturally, you may think involving a larger fraction of the business could significantly impact productivity. However, if you leave it to a couple of people who might not completely understand the dynamic of a team or the way other employees want to work, you could end up with the wrong person.
So you may find yourself repeating the same process a few months down the line when the wrong employee fails to make it past their probation period.
A larger panel of application reviewers could also eliminate bias and enable you to get a better understanding of the wider business as a whole.
3. Ask probing questions
The NASA recruitment process can often take two years to complete due to the many levels of complexities and requirements that are needed to fulfil a role.
However, when it does come to the face-to-face interview stage, they don’t hold back.
They usually bring in a psychologist to try and unlock the real thoughts of the candidate. “It’s challenging to pick astronauts for a lot of reasons, primarily because we are predicting behaviour so far in the future,” psychologist for NASA Kelley Slack said.
Adding: “We’re looking for the ‘right stuff,’ but we’re also trying to get rid of people with the ‘wrong stuff’”.
She suggested that businesses looking to adopt this way of recruiting should ask candidates about their past experiences with other colleagues and managers.
You can then take them out of their routine comfort zone and see if they remain positive throughout the process. If they are negative or clearly scrambling for an answer, you know there’s a red flag or bigger story to be told.
4. Put them to the test
One of NASA’s final stages of the recruitment process is the assessment day.
After cutting down applications to just 120 candidates, they will invite them to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston for interviews, medical evaluations and orientation.
After which, the 120 job seekers are usually further reduced and the remaining applicants are asked to complete a number of physical evaluations, additional interviews and team-building exercises.
In your business, you should always set candidates a test or carry out a group interview stage. These will give you a better understanding of whether their personality fits the bill and they are capable of producing the quality work the specific vacancy requires.
Recruiter pro tip
When you get to the interview or CV assessment stage of the recruitment process, try to stay as open-minded as possible. Judging a book by its cover or making a rash decision could easily cost you a top employee.
Silly reasons not to employ someone can include:
- Too many tattoos
- Job hopping/gaps in the CV
- The wrong location
- No degree
You can read more about this in our recent blog.
Due to the technicalities of NASA’s job openings, following this exact recruitment process in your business probably isn’t possible or even required.
However, their no-nonsense and team effort approach provides a fresh and innovative way of finding the ideal candidate.
Create an environment in your business where all personnel feel involved in the new appointment and you may well improve the work culture and establish a dynamic that sends productivity levels to infinity and beyond.
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