In these days of psychometric profiling, assessment centres and all the other sophisticated methods now at the disposal of firms to identify what makes a critical hire, there are also several alternative means by which to identify that perfect new recruit.
And more forward-thinking investment banks and fund managers are increasingly using some of these techniques to bring on board top talent.
The use of calligraphy is making a comeback. Firms like the old SG Warburg and Mercury Asset Management would often use handwriting analysis to gain insights into the personality of a candidate. Interestingly, this method is said to have been introduced into Warburg as old Sigmund himself is believed to have enjoyed a very close and longstanding relationship with a woman who ran a company which provided handwriting analysis for corporates.
Now many firms are also using the signs of the zodiac to identify top talent. An Aries, for example, is a can-do person, someone born under Cancer will usually make a good team player, whereas a Scorpio will generally be straight-talking and might not always get on well with others.
Using an ouija board is also becoming a quite popular recruitment tool. The dead often have a better perspective on the suitability of a new hire than the living, but this method does need to be used somewhat selectively. It is not always advisable talking to those on 'the other side'. Some of the spirits that come through are deceased recruitment consultants, trying to get back in on the action. And they are about as good in death as they were in life - ie absolutely no good.
And, for those really heavyweight hires, some investment banks are literally getting out the scales. There is now a school of thought, backed up by scientific research which recently came out of the US, which suggests that there is a direct correlation between the weight of a candidate and his/her suitability for a senior role. The theory goes that the fatter you are, the more likely you are to successfully hold down a big job.
Firms are also using a variety of other faddish recruitment tools to identify new talent - including assessing the strength of a candidate's handshake, the size of a candidate's feet and, that old chestnut, tossing a coin. The game of musical chairs is also a popular means to identify new staff. This involves getting a batch of candidates in a room with the on-site recruiters, who will operate the music and provide the chairs. The candidate who is seated when there is but one chair remaining is hired. Rumours that some firms are selecting staff by means of a 'blind man's bluff' recruitment game are thought to be a little wide of the mark.
Although a little cranky, all these recruitment methods are thought to be just as effective as those used by many investment banks and fund managers these days, especially firms who simply line up countless untrained line managers and other staff to pick holes in candidates at 'interview'. And the process is a whole lot quicker too.