As recruiters we’re in daily contact with a host of hiring decision-makers, from company owners to C-suite executives and mid-level managers. What we often hear is that it’s not just about finding qualified candidates, it’s about hiring the right qualified candidates, and the resulting costs of making the wrong hiring decision.
Hiring great people who are both skilled, and who fit your company’s core value system, is and will always be the most important, and difficult issue you face as a small business owner.
When hiring qualified candidates you need processes that enable you to assess how well a candidate will do the job for you?
How will you know whether or not a candidate will actually perform to your expectations? How can you go beyond what they tell you, to really knowing if they are the best fit for the job and your company’s future? You’ve met the candidates, passed them around to your trusted advisors to get their input, even talked with some references, but is that enough?
We can’t guarantee 100% pain free, but these 5 steps will help you to navigate the maze of candidate evaluation and hiring, without being overwhelmed in the process. It’s easy to manage, follow and, no matter the size of your organization, will help you travel safely through the most common bad hire pitfalls.
#1 Watch Out for Emotions.
It’s easy to rush the evaluation process when you’re excited about hiring someone you really like, vs making an informed decision about who is actually the best fit for the job. If you find yourself on this slippery slope — STOP! Yes, a likable personality is always important and is always going to sway people in the hiring process. But the danger here is that this is often at the expense of overlooking someone who may be better qualified – in terms of attitude, ambition, demonstrated behaviours and competency – for the job you need done.
So what are the steps you need to take to ensure you’re staying off the slippery slope of emotional hiring?
#2 Define Your Performance Benchmarks.
Design and follow a consistent evaluation process. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, what’s important is that you have one and use self-control and discipline to follow it. What are the specific deliverables you expect to see, and over what period of time, from the person you hire?
An increase in new accounts?
Better customer retention strategies?
Faster reporting processes?
Once you have clarified your desired outcomes, think about what these deliverables look like. Think in terms of what doing the actual job well would look like in terms of daily activities. Then you can see the list of soft and hard skills evolving that you’ll be looking for in this hire.
#3 Determine the Behaviours & Competencies
Personal skills are transferable and technical skills are usually more job or industry specific. To find the ones you need there are a many great assessment tools available. We highly recommend them before hiring and use them in all our searches to measure competencies and predict behaviours. The key is knowing which ones are required or mandatory vs desired or nice to have. Keep in mind that technical skills and personal attributes are both equally important.
Personal attributes can run the gamut from goal achievement and personal accountability to problem solving, conceptual thinking, decision making, diplomacy and tact, planning and organizing, empathy, teamwork, persuasion, resiliency, conflict management, leadership, creativity, and many more. Ranking these from essential to desired helps you to create an accurate yardstick so you can then evaluate candidates accurately and consistently.
#4 Have Everyone Use the Same Yardstick
Now you’re ready to design your candidate evaluation spreadsheet or grid, which you can then use to rank and screen each candidate on the basis of how well their demonstrated competencies measure up to the job requirements – the focus here is on ability to deliver, how they achieved similar deliverables to the ones you expect, or would plan to achieve them given a similar set of circumstances, in their past or prospective employment.
Have each interviewer use this same benchmarking process for every candidate. Then you can compare notes, select your finalist candidates, and prepare more indepth interview questions that drill down on the strengths and weaknesses you have identified.
#5 Tell Them & Then Listen Carefully
The number one cause of failure in hiring is misalignment of values. Relationships, personal and business, fail because of unmet expectations which are always to do with values. Failing to meet expectations is a direct result of failure to communicate values.
Hearing what candidates are saying about their motives and interests, instead of what we want to hear is critical. Once values are understood, expectations need to be carefully articulated, verbally and in writing. Candidates need performance benchmarks so that they know what criteria they are being evaluated on, and what happens when they achieve your goals and expectations.
Try including this in your career ads, and you’ll see a significant improvement in the quality of candidates applying for your role. Also be sure you include performance benchmarks in every new hire’s employment contract, review this with them and have them sign off on each item. That way everyone understands what is expected as a direct result of their being hired.
When the hiring process involves clearly communicated expectations with all parties, and a process is consistently followed to evaluate candidates based on anticipated outcomes, you are well on your way to hiring right.
We’re here to help you hire people who will contribute in a relevant and meaningful way to your team’s success. That alone is your guarantee of a strong bottom line.
Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.
Ashton & Associates Recruiting … Helping you hire right. Every time.
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