Why Can’t I Hire the Right Person?
Do you find selecting a new person for your team to be an exercise in futility? Do you rely on your “gut feel” or how much you liked that charismatic candidate, only to be disappointed with a nightmare of an employee?
Perhaps it’s an employee you’ve trained and leaves shortly thereafter; a new hire that wreaks havoc on your existing team members; or an imposter who claims to be best thing since sliced bread, but turns out to be all “puff” and no results.
The bad news is that recruiting and selecting candidates will continue to be one of your more challenging leadership responsibilities because of baby boomers departing the workforce. The good news is that there is a solid way to improve the outcome of your hiring decisions.
What are the steps you should take before you create and disseminate the position posting?
After a recent interview, a coaching client told me about their experience with a Fortune 500 company. The interviewer, a high-level manager, shared that he had not had time to look at the candidate’s resume prior to the meeting.
The manager may have thought he was just showing how much responsibility he had, but he came off as winging it and being poorly prepared.
Worse than the actual interview, he left the candidate with this perception: If the manager spent no time prepping for the interview or reading a resume, what level of importance was he placing on the decision to have someone join his team?
In the bigger picture, this Fortune 500 company exec was competing with other organizations that will take the time, do the prep, and woo the candidate.
I realize that leaders have more responsibilities than they may know how to manage; however, other than the financial and process leadership that is so essential in management, what could be more important than who will join your team and how their talents will strengthen your department and organization?
In terms of the steps to improve your process, the devil is in the preparation and details.
If you want to improve something, look at how you are doing with the current selection process. This will provide a baseline for the future. Looking at the last 12 months, what is the annualized turnover rate for your area? If people left the organization, why did they leave?
What can you learn from this quick scan of information? As you devise your new selection approach, what needs to be considered?
The simple truth is that you can’t hire the right people if you don’t know or aren’t sure what the absolute success factors are for the open positions. What behaviors, knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes do existing “successful” employees possess?
If you wanted to clone your best employees, what critical success factors (CSFs) do they possess? These characteristics should support your organization’s mission and workplace culture.
Notice the first item listed for competencies—behaviors. Today, leaders cannot assume that everyone understands what is expected relative to individual behavior.
Technical competencies are learned through education or on the job, whereas behavioral competencies (such as self-awareness, work habits, and values) are usually learned through life experiences. It is important to articulate and define seven to nine competencies that will support the performance and team effectiveness within your organization.
These competencies, along with a current job description, will be your best resources for developing solid questions.
The Hiring Team
Determine who is participating in the interviews and hiring decision. Agree on the criteria or competencies you will use to make your selection decision.
Whether you are interviewing internal or external candidates, by using a structured behavioral-based interviewing (BBI) process and determining the criteria up front, you can make an “apples to apples” comparison of the candidates instead of an “apples to pomegranates” comparison.
When you firmly establish your hiring criteria and properly weight each specific competency, you are leveling the playing field for all candidates, whether they are current employees or external applicants.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to complete this step before you have someone initially screening the resumes and the interviews begin. Otherwise, if you determine your criteria for the selection decision during the process or at the end, my experience suggests that now the entire decision process is tainted to suit a candidate’s background that someone may prefer to hire.
Design a selection criteria form with definitions of the agreed-upon criteria and a simple rating system to evaluate each candidate’s prior work experience and their actual responses.
Develop specific questions that will shed light on the candidate’s competencies and talents. For example, with a supervisory candidate, you may want to learn about their team-building skills and may ask: “Describe how you have promoted an environment of mutual trust in your work unit.”
If there are multiple interviewers, coordinate the questions for each interviewer in advance so that you are not asking the same questions, thereby using time most effectively with each candidate.
The Actual Interview Process
You have the resume to review in advance, so don’t waste valuable meeting time rehashing the resume content. Set aside one-third of the interview meeting for the candidate to share their relevant employment history. Listen for what motivates the candidate in their current and prior positions.
Explore the reasons provided for changing employment. Secure the reason for any gaps in the employment history.
Two-thirds of the interview should cover behavioral-based questions developed to draw out substantial information on the candidate’s work experiences. Remember that past behavior is often the best predictor of future action!
When the candidate answers a question, delve into their experiences. If someone cannot answer a question with substance, it may be that they have no relevant experience to share with you.
As you enter the interview to learn more about the potential candidate for your team, you will have reviewed their qualifications and you will be more confident because you will have done the work (the prep) to lead an excellent meeting and ultimately make a solid hiring decision.
After all, what really could be more important for you as a leader than selecting your team! BW
LuAnn Aument, SPHR, owns Aument Coaching & Consulting, which specializes in providing HR services in South-Central Pennsylvania. Her passion includes leadership and employee development, conflict resolution, and outplacement career services. Aument is a self-professed “competency” geek and an expert at developing highly successful behavioral-based interviewing processes and workshops. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.