Solving the Hiring Mystery

Your boss just told you to fill the requisition you submitted to him three months ago. You want to shortcut the agony of last week when you terminated a fairly new employee whose skills didn't match his resume. With your workload, you need to overcome the mystery of hiring to assure top talent. Your last effort wasn't exactly stellar and now you need two people, not just one.

What can you do to prepare?
If you are like most managers, you rarely spend time on hiring, thinking that human resources or the recruiter will come to the rescue when you finally have an approved opening. Wrong! Your recruiter is part of your team and needs your input to source for the talent.

Hiring is a bit like getting married. Using the same ad time after time is unwise. Each time, you should refine the details, similar to finding a second wife or husband!

Unless you are one of the fortunate few, HR has no clue what you mean by a financial analyst or detail engineer. The first step begins when you ask the person, currently in the job, to specify the actual duties. He's about to have a heart attack from overwork.

While this is happening, you select the number of years of experience and salary range. Be realistic. If you're fortunate enough to have a compensation analyst or manager, s/he can assist.

For managers, hiring isn't a frequent task. So navigate the  mystery by playing detective, by yourself and with your team.

For managers, hiring isn't a frequent task. So navigate the
mystery by playing detective, by yourself and with your team.

What about the ad?
You may need to seek assistance to write a compelling advertisement. Lou Adler is the “Prime Minister” of hiring in the United States. He's packaged the hiring process to avoid all mystery. He tells you clearly that writing a boring ad attracts boring people.

What about the interviewing process?
Candidates are more skilled in interviewing than a few years ago, due to online and other resources. You must train your team, even if they have hired people for years. Each opening affects your bottom line. You don't want to make a mistake.

You must prepare an interview guide in advance for your team. HR may have a basic screen, which would include “reason for leaving,” salary, house to sell, but you will need to add the technical skills or new dimensions for the preliminary screen. You don't want to waste time if crucial skills are missing, but if the candidates have three out of five requirements, you should see the resume. Other pertinent experience may be discovered with your eyes.

Personality plays a key role. Does your team need an extrovert or perform better with a quietly confident, yet energetic individual? Great interviews contain both technical questions and the “softer” skills, such as integrity, meeting deadlines, and decision making. In a future article we will discuss the difference between behavioral and traditional questions.

Have you tried team interviewing?
Team interviews are expeditious. You can assign each team member one of the skills with responsibility for “drilling down” to discern the candidate's accomplishments on a particular aspect of the job. In a team interview, everyone hears the answers simultaneously.

Sequential interviewing by your team is more common. What is the difficulty with having your direct reports interview the candidates for 45 minutes each? By the time the candidate answers the same question five times, s/he is quite adept with the last interview. Your data integration meeting may be full discrepancies. You might reject the best qualified person unless each team member knows his or her role.

Why are the first 30 minutes critical?
In another piece of Adler advice, he says, “Don't make the decision for at least 30 minutes.” Too many times people hire people like themselves without digging deeper. He suggests putting yellow “stickies” on the resumes reminding the interview team NOT to decide for at least 30 minutes. You try to balance the team, not hire clones!

You can solve the hiring mystery or lack of confidence in hiring. You simply must adequately prepare for better results. No matter what the industry or the jobs, your success rate will flourish if you follow the plan!

— Ruth Glover owns Career Consultation, which provides career advice and training. She is the author of MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change.

6 comments on “Solving the Hiring Mystery

  1. SunitaT
    March 14, 2013

    Great interviews contain both technical questions and the “softer” skills, such as integrity, meeting deadlines, and decision making.

    @Ruth, thanks for the post. I agree with your opinion. I think its also important to understand the attitude of the candidate because sometimes a candidate who is very good technically may not have the right attitdue. Its also important to ask qeustions to identify whether the candidate is a team player or a independent contributor.

  2. Ruth Glover
    March 14, 2013

    Excellent response.  That is the reason for not making a quick judgment to hire or not hire.  You need to get to know the candidate before making the decision.  I've heard hiring managers say, “He doesn't quite have the right skills, but I like him.” Asking behavioral questions to determine “fit” is incredibly important.

    A team needs to be balanced.  The quietly confident contributor is as important as the talkative manager.  I don't particularly like the word “fit,” but I don't have a better word for it.  Right personality + right experience/technology=good hire.

  3. t.alex
    March 20, 2013

    I have seen people who stick to their 5-minute rules instead of 30 minutes. Any take on this?

  4. Ruth Glover
    March 20, 2013

    If the hiring manager decides to hire within five minutes, let's hope s/he and the candidate worked together previously to understand strengths and weaknesses in both.

    Reseach shows that delaying the hiring decision truly assists with hiring the right person for the right job.  Hiring a neighbor you like may not result in a “good hire.” I wish more hiring managers took the time to prepare everyone on the team, too.

  5. Ruth Glover
    March 20, 2013

    I certainly agree that you need to ask the technical and soft skills questions.  Asking for examples of prior experience helps the interviewer and interviewee determine whether to move forward or keep looking.  

  6. Brian Fuller
    March 20, 2013

    Ruth, this is great stuff and humbling too. I've found in my career that you learn a little bit every time you make a new hire. But you also learn a lot every time you lay off an employee during down cycles. 

    You learn about the qualities and characteristics that given certain people longevity in the work force.

    You also need to trust your instincts to a degree and least to the “humanity” of the person you're interviewing. The more human a person seems, the more adaptable and teachable they'll be in the work place. A candidate who waves his/her resume around with flash, may not be so adaptable. 



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