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If you have been tasked
with hiring staff for very long, you have undoubtedly made a bad hiring
decision. Maybe you ignored a trait that you should not have, or perhaps you
failed to interview for that trait. Interviewing is such a complicated process
that it is easy to miss important points. Here are five steps you should take to
make sure that your next hiring decision is not a mistake.
More than technology
Technical managers tend
to hire on technical skills. It is natural that you evaluate whether someone
has the technical skills to complete the job; in fact, that is the
prerequisite. However, there is much
more to an employee than his or her ability to complete the work. The employee has to be able to serve customers,
whether internally or externally. He or
she also has to be able to communicate status and, depending upon the level,
manage projects and people. These can be
equally as important as technology skills in your environment.
Despite the diversity of
skills that an employee should have, most technical managers measure
exclusively by technical ability. I have done that. I once hired a candidate who
was on house arrest for a DUI conviction. I failed to measure his commitment to
getting things done and his ability to motivate himself. The clue, which I
ignored, was his commitment to having fun and his lack of responsibility. Ultimately,
he left, but not before I had invested a great deal of time working with him on
his commitment issues.
For more tips, download
this look at illegal
and other risky interview questions.
Personality, not personal
There are many standard profiling
tools that can help you to understand what motivates a person and how that
person may fit into your organization. The
more you understand about these tools and how they measure personality, the
more effectively you can evaluate prospective employees. Perhaps the best known profiling tool is the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This
indicator is designed to identify people on four spectrums: introverted/
extroverted; intuiting/sensing; thinking/feeling; and judging/perceiving. Tools like Myers-Briggs will help you understand
certain aspects of the individual’s personality during the interview. Of course, should you have concerns, you may
want to use a validated tool to address your concerns.
In our interviewing
process, we use validated tools and our own experience to help us position the
candidate for success if he or she is hired.
For more, read how assessment tests
can take the guesswork out of hiring.
Conditions for calm
purposely try to make interviewees uncomfortable, playing games to make the
candidate ill at ease. The result is that the candidate is uncomfortable and
may react differently than under normal circumstances. In other words, creating
unnatural stress on the candidate makes it difficult, if not impossible, to
accurately determine how he or she normally functions.
As a result, you should take
reasonable steps to make sure that the candidate is comfortable. If your office
does not require wearing suits on a daily basis, you may tell the candidate
that he or she may dress business casual for the interview. Avoid using large
groups to interview your candidate unless public speaking is a part of the prospective
Your goal in the
interview process is to evaluate in a short period of time how the candidate
may perform in your organization. Creating unnecessary stress during the
interview will not accomplish that goal.
Ideally, you will have
more than one interviewer conducting the interview process. You will have
several people evaluate the same person (one at a time) to get the perspective
of each interviewer on the candidate. While having multiple people evaluate the
same candidate is advisable, it can sometimes lead to frustration if members of
the interview team are not in agreement.
The solution to this
problem is to educate the interviewers on the most important aspects of the role. By building a common understanding, you can ensure
that everyone has a similar perspective on the candidate and that the team
members who interviewed the candidate are looking for the same qualities.
In our group, we
typically have four people interviewing each person. Because we have a common set of criteria, we rarely
have problems coming to a decision on a candidate. When we do not agree, we
have terminology that gives us a common language for addressing any differences
of opinion or unresolved issues.
During the interview
process, you should also watch out for the seven signs that a job
candidate won’t work out.
Part of the hiring
process is giving the candidate enough information to “opt out” of the process if
the potential job may not be a good fit. In our business, travel is part of the
job. No matter how much we try to minimize it, we have to expect that there
will be some. Part of our process is exposing the candidate to what a typical
day might look like and what our expectations for the candidate will be.
We lose a large number of
candidates due to the amount of travel, the fear of learning new technologies,
or a fear of public speaking. However, we would much rather that the candidate “opts
out” of the process before being hired. When candidates start a job and then
leave shortly thereafter, the organization and the employee both lose out; this
also creates a negative perception in the community regarding your
expectations and making sure that they match up with the candidate’s expectations
is critical to a long-term hire.
Hiring decisions are
necessarily made on incomplete information. You will never truly know someone
from a few hours of discussion; however, by learning to clearly understand what
you are looking for, seeking out personality traits, making candidates comfortable,
and setting appropriate expectations, you can make better hiring decisions.