The Physics of Recruiting- Be a Magnet for Talent


April 30, 2010

Physics has always fascinated me. (stop laughing)


I’ve never been labeled a brainiac, but I certainly have enjoyed learning and studying many of the topics that fall into the physics realm.  I guess I didn’t have enough interest to major in it in college, but Physics was my favorite class in my undergrad studies and I always made A’s in Physics.  One of my favorite studies was magnetism.

To understand magnetism, we have to first understand what a magnet is.  Basically, a magnet is a material or metal that has the ability to attract some metals or it can repel another magnet.  Magnetism refers to the force of attraction or repulsion that is caused by the magnetic field surrounding the magnet.  Something about the fact that it is not just about attraction but about repulsion appeals to me.  So here’s where it gets interesting, magnets have a north pole and a south pole.  In order to have attraction, opposite poles have to be near each other.  If “like” poles are near, the magnetic force actually pushes them apart.  Thus the theory that opposites attract.

From a recruiting standpoint, similar forces are at play.  And, if YOU (as the recruiter, HR, or hiring manager) are being the magnet, then you should be able to attract the “right” candidates and repulse the wrong candidates.  Are you with me?  So, as you go through your slate of candidates, you don’t necessarily want the candidates you think are saying all the right things.  Anyone can practice to do well in an interview.  What you need to be looking for are those candidates who have the experience on paper AND who can bring something different to the organization.

That would be attraction.

I think that idea may be drastically different from what really happens most of the time.  Hiring managers tend to hire like-minded people with similar backgrounds to their own.  And although they would never admit it, they want to bring in little clones of themselves.  The challenge is to bring in someone who will have similar goals to the organization but who has skills that complement those of your current staff.  By doing that , you are ATTRACTING the right talent and BEING a magnet.

What do you think?  Am I right on or completely off target?  Let me know in the comments….


  • I agree with your theory, sort of, although I think it’s more likely that ‘like attracts like’ when you’re recruiting.

    I definitely agree with the idea that memorizing the right answers doesn’t always make someone the right selection.

    • @Krista- Good morning and thanks for the comment. I agree that currently the situation is usually like attracts like. The idea is to act more like a magnet and go for those with complementary skills. That would also help promote a diverse workforce from many different diverse categories. So glad you weighed in. : )

  • Trish! You are right on with the magnet idea! Great post!

  • Trish, I am far from being a physics buff, but I loved your post (another example of magnetic attraction between opposites?).

    The challenge for hiring managers, as you said, is to look for those who complement the organization. But for that to happen, I think the hiring manager must first exercise a great deal of insight, courage and humility — and unfortunately, not every leader/hiring manager has it in them.

    For example, it takes insight and courage to acknowledge the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and humility to seek out those with strengths/background that we ourselves might not have. But the reward for operating this way is a much stronger, smarter, more diverse workforce.

  • Ah….great post. For sure, we mostly find or are attracted like minded people. A huge growth happens when we can recognize that and seek others who are different, more qualified, more interesting even.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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