“Changing the culture by not advertising that you’re changing the culture” -Jonathan Fraser
As Praescient continues to grow and expand capabilities, the company is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to vet prospective employees to potentially become a part of our collaborative, diverse team.
To gain more insight into the best practices of vetting, looking further into current recruitment procedures, Praescient conducted an interview with two participants of the Analytic Exchange Program (AEP) at the Department of Homeland Security: Jonathan Fraser and Keith Smith. The two were on the “Best Practices of Vetting Current and Prospective Employees” research team, continuing the Phase 2 of this line of research following 2019’s AEP.
What is the Analytic Exchange Program (AEP)?
“The AEP Committee enables U.S government analysts and private sector partners to gain a greater understanding of how their disparate, yet complementary, roles can work in tandem to ensure mission success. Participants work to create joint analytic products of interest to both the private sector and the U.S. Government” AEP Overview
Introductions- Jonathan Fraser and Keith Smith
Jonathan Fraser is the Chief of Staff for the Counterintelligence Directorate at the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Fraser has over 19 years of experience conducting counter reconnaissance, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism operations for the United States Army and DSS. Keith Smith is currently working within the private Sector for Veritas Security Advisory, but has been working in the Intelligence realm since 2007 from positions in Air Force Special Investigations to DoD Special Agent CI collections.
Smith has participated in the AEP in previous years, whereas this is Fraser’s first time on the team. The emphasis of this line of research was on building company culture and hiring the “right person” for the “right position”. There were 8 team members in total on this project. They formed 3 Key Intelligence Questions (KIQs) initially to drive the development of research:
How can small businesses use employee lifecycle models to manage personnel risk as part of an enterprise risk management approach?
What are effective, efficient, and inexpensive solutions leveraging national training platforms that can be operationalized in an employee lifecycle model for enterprise risk?
What tools and resources do human resources and others involved in an organization’s hiring process require to get the right person in the right organizational role?
Implications related to Praescient’s values and Future Pursuits
While Praescient appreciates all the implications of this research, the following recommendations were found to be particularly relevant to us: modifications and enhancements to vetting processes–assessing a candidate’s “beliefs, values and behaviors” and screening through personality assessments as well as social media checks.
Leveraging Social Media Checks were found to be a crucial component of initial recruitment
“Pay a little now or pay a lot later”
This notion was strongly emphasized throughout the findings. During the interview, Smith emphasized the absolute importance of social media checking stating that this check can be “extremely valuable” and it is not expensive. Keith shared an anecdote about his father’s business in Ohio and how social media checks were found to be a crucial component of initial recruitment.
Leveraging Personality Assessments
Another recommendation from their research was to leverage personality assessments to provide a more holistic picture of the candidate’s potential to integrate with the existing company culture as well as the specific role they’re applying for– again, right person but wrong position is very possible. Fraser shared his experience of interviewing Dr. Gallagher for the project who works for the DoD Special Operation Unit and noted the usefulness of the MMPI. Fraser continued by stating that it is arguably the most appropriate or rather most accepted measure by psychologists. (*however AEP does not endorse any one test). In this vein, Fraser also noted that these assessments should not be viewed as the “ultimate deciders” of whether or not someone gets the job, but rather as measures that provide further insight into if the potential candidate would fit well with the company as well as the specific unit within the organization.
When discussing the importance of screening for one’s alignment with company values, Fraser noted that, especially with small companies, culture was found to be hugely important for employee engagement at large. Fraser stressed how the staff needs to feel a part of the company’s values and organizational responses need to be consistent.
Transitioning back to the Office
Praescient notes that during these unprecedented times finding ways to improve company culture and to cultivate a positive work environment, after transitioning back to the office environment, is key to productivity. Fraser said the best way to improve culture often is “changing the culture by not advertising that you’re changing the culture”. He noted in his own personal work as the Chief of Staff that it’s the executive involvement and seemingly small changes that make the largest impact.
Praescient strives to continue to actively consider new ways to develop organizational culture. For example, interns have the opportunity to be involved with executives every week during daily news briefs.