Hiring funnels make me hungry…more specifically, hungry for Nestle Drumsticks. There’s something about a delicious waffle cone filled with creamy vanilla, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts – all leading to a chocolate surprise at the very bottom. Mmm mmm mmm. It’s a classic summer treat with staying power, my friends. But what does that have to do with employee selection? I’m glad you asked – let’s dig in.
At its best, a hiring process is designed to find the best possible employee for the job. Starting with a large pool of applicants, you pick through the (pea)nuts until you find The One. There are several types of selection tools you can use to narrow your search, but it’s important to know when and how these tools are best utilized. You’ll want to consider the costs, time, and resources you have available. What I mean is, don’t be wooed by the Cadillac model if all you really need is a K car.
Peanuts – aka Screening Assessments
When you have a large pool of candidates, you don’t have the time or the money to vet each of them through a lengthy process – only to find out they’re just (pea)nuts. What you need are simple, low-cost screening tools to weed out who’s not even minimally qualified. At this point in the process, you might consider the following:
- Online Application Screen – quickly classify people as qualified, or not. Federal contractors can take special care to determine who meets their basic qualifications (e.g., 18 years of age or older; work authorization). You may also choose to employ some basic knockout questions (e.g., education level, technical certifications, physical requirements).
- Fit Assessment – screen out applicants who may be a higher risk for certain behaviors (e.g., Impulsivity, Resistant to Change). In this way, you focus on the top 75-85% of applicants who are more likely to “fit” with the organization. Fit assessments are better suited to large or moderately-sized applicant pools, where you’ll see the most utility.
- Phone Screen – this is a good first touch-point with qualified candidates. Keep these short and sweet, around 30-45 minutes. The goal is for recruiters to gather initial information on candidates’ work preferences and career aspirations. Are their expectations in line with the position/organization, and are they worth pursuing further? Fit assessment results can inform the phone screen, too – areas where the candidate scored low may indicate red flags you should probe deeper about, using a structured, behavior-based question or two.
Chocolate Coating – aka In-Depth Assessments
Now onto something sweeter – a refined pool of candidates that have passed your initial inspection. Here, we get a little fancy, and sometimes a little dark. In-depth assessments measure a variety of constructs – from behavioral competency (e.g., Managing Change) to technical competency (e.g., Mechanical Reasoning). These assessments may be online or involve an onsite job simulation exercise. In-depth assessments contain more robust measurement and thus are longer than Fit assessments (upwards of 1-2 hours). As such, these should be reserved for later in the hiring process, when you have a narrowed group of candidates you’d like more detailed information about. Importantly, you should consider what can be learned on the job, as this will affect what you choose to measure up front.
Vanilla Ice Cream – aka In-Depth Interviews
In-depth interviews are anything but Plain Jane vanilla. Here, you can be picky, settling only for the pure, Madagascar vanilla; not that imitation stuff. Structured, behavior-based interviews are most predictive of job performance, as they guide interviewers to ask job-relevant questions. Additionally, utilize the results of in-depth assessments to probe deeper about candidate strengths and weaknesses relative to the job. Competency definitions and behavioral anchors guide the rating process, so interviewers evaluate candidates consistently against established criteria and don’t get sidetracked by fluff. Hosting individuals onsite is costly for the organization and Hiring Manager time is precious, so reserve your in-depth, onsite interviews for the final round of candidates.
Using these tools appropriately will take you down a successful, efficient path to the CHOCOLATE CRUX – aka, someone who is not only capable of doing the job, but who will excel and thrive in it. Someone who you’ve deemed a good fit for the role and the organization’s culture. Someone who doesn’t just want to work, but who wants to work for you.