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Hiring Smart

Originally published: 03.01.14 by Lisë Stewart


Have you ever been charmed by an applicant? Hired a friend or family member and been disappointed? Kept poor performers long after they should have been asked to leave? Added up the cost of making a poor hiring decision?

Why is our “gut” such a poor indicator of success? Most of us want to like the people we meet. We naturally look for positive attributes and try to see a “fit” where one may not exist. It is important to remove as much of our subjective opinions as we can – and learn to develop better predictors of future success.

Research supports the fact that past behavior is one of the most reliable methods for predicting future behavior. When we use techniques to uncover past behaviors, we call this a “behaviorallybased” process. Using these methods can help you to successfully recruit new team members that can perform well in the job and who fit your organizational culture.

First, consider a multi-step process that begins with the development of a well-researched position description, and culminates with a behavioralybased interview process.

To create an effective job description, define the following:

• Where the position fits into the larger organization

• The outcomes of the position and the tasks required to produce them

• The physical requirements of a job

• The mental attitudes, unique skills and competencies required

• The expected performance standards

There are two types of competencies: technical and behavioral. We tend

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to hire people based upon their technical competencies, such as how long they have been doing a particular task, how much training they have, and whether they are qualified in a particular skill. However, we tend to fire people based upon their behavioral competencies – how they act on the job. To determine your preferred behavioral competencies, you might make a list of the personal attributes of your top performers, or others who have performed well in the job that you are filling. What were they like? Describe their style, values, and attitudes. Now you are beginning to develop an understanding of their behavioral competencies! 

Job descriptions should be linked to performance – what the new employees are supposed to do and the standards by which they will be measured. Ask yourself, “if my hires were performing well, what results would we see? How would we be able to tell if they were effective?” Now you are beginning to craft some useful performance measures.

Recruitment – Asking the Right

Questions from the Right People

Recruitment is the process of encouraging the appropriate applicants to apply for the job. Make sure that your recruitment process reaches as wide an audience as possible and don’t discount the importance of social media. Many jobs today are advertised on Facebook and Linked-In, as well as numerous on-line sites such as Craigslist and CareerBuilder.com. Research the sites that might draw the best applicants for your opening.

In your job advertisement, be very specific about the competencies you are looking to find. If you are looking for a high-energy individual that is self-reliant, able to work independently and make quick and accurate decisions, then say so.

When you interview don’t be fooled by a charming and friendly applicant! Be prepared with a process that helps you to understand how an applicant has responded to key situations in the past.

It is very important to ask the same questions of each applicant. This provides consistency between applicants and increases the validity and reliability of the interview.

Develop your list of questions – keep them short and realistic. D esign questions that ask for examples of past behavior. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a really difficult customer. What did you do and what was the outcome?”

Be careful not to use leading questions, as this may prime the applicant to give you the answers that they think you want. An example of a leading question may be: “We think it is important to call customers by their first name. What is your approach to addressing customers by name?”

Next, for each question that you develop, be sure that you have determined what you believe is an accurate/effective answer. Judge your candidate against what you have decided is the kind of answer that fits your organization.

Avoid trick questions, or hypothetical questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years time?” These have little bearing on a person’s ability to do the job, unless you are scoring them on creative thinking.

Finally, always respond to all applicants — even if it is just to say that you received their resume, but have chosen other candidates for an interview. Remember, every step of the application and interview process is a taste of your company and a chance to build or tarnish your reputation as a business and leader. The recruitment and selection process should demonstrate your professionalism at every turn

Lisë Stewart is founder and director of Galliard Group, a training and consulting firm specializing in family-owned and closely-held businesses. She is a nationally recognized author and speaker who draws on her 25+ years of experience to share practical advice for ensuring sustainability of family businesses.

Contact Lisë at lstewart@galliardgroup.com

 


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