Never settle when it comes to hiring.
I read in a recent CLO (Chief Learning Officer) Newsletter, that according to a survey done by Development Dimensions International´s (DDI), one in five hires is a bad decision.
I think the average of poor hiring decisions might actually be higher than this 20% number. Either way, companies are losing billions and managers and teams are suffering.
Hiring and promotion tend to be two areas that I try to be pretty tough – it´s so important! In my humble opinion, there are two things that are often lacking:
1. We are not defining what we want and need accurately.
While some responsibility certainly lies on the hiring manager’s shoulders, I also hold HR professionals accountable for this happening (and I was HR once). Too often, HR managers let the hiring managers post crummy job descriptions, and hold crummy interviews.
2. We are not interviewing well enough and not holding ourselves to a high enough standard for the hiring decisions we make.
It should not be OK to make the decision to hire the wrong person when everyone can see he or she is not a good fit for the position (or even one or two people see it). Again, I would like to see more HR professionals taking a stronger stance on this and help coach managers on how to make better hiring decisions.
What do we need?
When defining a position, we often stick to the basic job description stuff. It is worthwhile to take some time to really think about our goals for the position. I would recommend considering:
1. What are the most important management and leadership skills needed? Project management? Process improvement? Creativity? Team-building? Financial management? Planning and organizing work? While it is easy enough to say that they are all needed, each position will have unique needs at the time an opening occurs.
2. What skills, experiences, and talents will the ideal candidate possess and bring to their peer team? Each management team is different. The mix of players is unique and the cumulative strengths and weaknesses should be considered.
3. What skills, experiences and tendencies are the best fit for the corporate strategy and culture?
4. Consider why past incumbents have succeeded or failed. What does this tell you about the unwritten job description.
5. Consider the level of proactivity, creativity, and results orientation that is desired. Again, it is easy enough to say that they are all important, but too often our interview questions are not designed to assess these things.
How do we assess if the applicant has what we need?
Aahh, this is the tough part. Personally, I think it is the fun part. Fun, because it is neat to discover a person who is the perfect fit for a role and satisfying to be able to discern when an applicant is not a good fit.
Most interviewers are too easy on applicants. They ask leading questions and let candidates get away with not answering questions fully. Hiring decisions are among the most important, and you need information to make a good judgment.
I recommend using well crafted behavioral interviews that assess for the skills, abilities, experiences, and tendencies that you are looking for. Most HR professionals will be able to help hiring managers create the right questions and there are dozens of books on the topic.
Follow-up questions are critical too.
And don´t be afraid to ask direct questions about why someone wants to leave his or her job and why they made each career transition.
If you know you are not a very good interviewer, ask someone who is to do the interview with you. You need to hear the answers to the questions and process the information the candidate is offering.
I am also a fan of references, but not like most people do them. I think you can get valuable information, even from the people that candidates offer up as references (their work buddies) if you ask the right questions in the right ways.
If you define the position correctly, and take time and care in the interviewing process, you will improve hiring decisions. And we all know that great people make a significant difference. With the right team members, managers can spend less time handling performance problems and more time helping the business grow and prosper.