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What's Our Best Piece of Hiring Advice? One Team's Perspective

May 19, 2015

chat-bubblesAs a group of human resource consultants with a variety of backgrounds we often find ourselves disagreeing on certain topics. The positive is that those disagreements can incite new knowledge and ways of thinking about a particular problem or issue. Thus, the objective here is to provide a variety of perspectives that have the potential to help organizations who find themselves trying to answer this common question: How do we make sure that we hire the best employee for the job?

My advice to any organization attempting to hire for a specific role is simple, know the role. It doesn’t matter who filled the role before, if he or she was successful, or what you hoped the role would be. To hire the right person, one needs to know what the specific knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics are required to successfully perform the functions of the job (and no, looking at the job description is not sufficient). A recruiter in a large organization may find this difficult because s/he is not familiar or intimately related with the day to day activities, but I’m sure someone in that organization does have that information. Interview individuals who know about the role, review job descriptions, discuss any future changes in the role that may affect the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities. Once you have all this information, make sure that the selection criteria you are using will provide you and the decision-makers with all of the information one will need to make an informed decision. This is particularly true for jobs requiring high degrees of technical knowledge. We can often get blinded by the right degree and background, but if the person cannot work on a team, that job (or worse other jobs) will be available again shortly.

Steven Jarrett, Consultant

No matter how urgent the hiring need is, do not allow hiring managers to rush the staffing process just because they feel they need someone right away. Too often this results in cutting corners when trying to find the most qualified person for the job. Even if a hiring manager says any “warm body” is better than having the role remain vacant, the fact is that hiring a poor fit or unqualified person causes much more harm to the company. That person will not be productive and possibly even lower the productivity and morale of other employees. In some cases, they will either get fired or leave the company within a short period of time, leaving the manager back to square one with the vacant position. Staffing teams are much better off taking the time to thoroughly evaluate all candidates on the capabilities needed for success in the role so that they can make the best, most informed hiring decision possible. This takes extra time and effort, but the return on investment is well worth it.

- John Fernandez, Consulting Manager

My recommendation would be to make sure that you are considering multiple pieces of information on each candidate before making a hiring decision. The best way to learn about the candidate, and to determine whether he or she has the necessary skills for the job, is to gather this information from different sources (e.g., application, assessment, interview, etc.). It is the culmination of evidence from multiple tools or steps that can allow you to be more confident that you are making a correct decision. Tools alone can be a valuable source of information, but the system as a whole will allow you to better distinguish between your candidates.

- Alissa Parr, Consultant

I would say that keeping the recruitment process consistent is very important. Sometimes HR team members may be tempted to skip established, and sometimes validated, steps in the hiring process for a variety of reasons. It could be because a current employee recommended a friend or family member for a position, but the candidate does not meet the minimum requirements. Or, maybe an individual is a temporary employee who feels that he or she has proven themselves and does not need to take an assessment to demonstrate their competency in the position. More commonly, there is pressure placed on HR to fill positions due to immediate business need. In all cases, the HR staff should avoid making exceptions to aspects of the company’s hiring process, whether it is an interview, assessment, or any other established step, both for fairness and legal defensibility reasons. Once an exception is made, it is a slippery slope that can eliminate the rigor and thought put into a structured selection system. Although it may seem difficult at the time, it is better to contend with an unhappy supervisor or candidate than a lawsuit that could cost the company a lot of time and money.

- Vicki Marlan, Consulting Associate

When looking for a new hire, make sure the candidate is a good fit with the culture, organizational values, and expectations of the organization. When interviewing or reviewing a candidate’s resumes, hiring managers often get very excited when they see a candidate with all of the right qualifications and experience and may be tempted to bring them on board regardless of exploring their wants and desires. Even though a candidate has the right skill set and likely will be able to perform the job duties, be sure to find out what motivates them and determine if it is in line with what your organization has to offer. For example, if your “perfect” candidate is a real go-getter and wants to quickly excel in their career and you know that there is not much room for advancement, this will likely lead to a dissatisfied employee. Also, if the company culture is one where teamwork is expected by everyone and your “perfect” candidate is more of an independent thinker and prefers to work alone, no one will be happy. When looking for a new hire, be sure to go beyond qualifications and experience and really explore how that candidate will fit into your organization.

- Megan Why, Consulting Associate

There is much value to streamlining one’s selection process. As examples, streamlining a company’s selection process can remove bottle necks and save you both time and money.

  • Removal of bottlenecks: Streamlining a selection process is a great way to identify bottlenecks. For example, maybe your company now provides legally defensible interview training because you were able to uncover that hiring managers are not using a consistent, structured approach when they are conducting interviews with candidates.
  • Time: By streamlining your hiring process, let’s say by simply using an online application and an online screening tool, you can eliminate all candidates who do not meet the requirements of the job and the riskiest of candidates with little to no manpower.
  • Money: It is costly to recruit candidates, especially when you are wasting money entertaining candidates that are not going to be a good fit for a particular job. It is also costly to waste time on poor candidates (time is money!). Using a streamlined and valid hiring process, you can ensure that you are bringing on candidates who will be a good fit for the particular job and company, and not bring on those who are likely to turnover and ultimately cost the company money.

Lindsey Burke, Consultant

When setting up a selection system, I think it’s important to include at least one step that’s truly objective. Often times hiring managers rely heavily on interviews and resume reviews to make decisions about who to reject and who to hire. The potential issue with this approach is that interviews are relatively subjective. Even when candidates are scored against standard, behaviorally anchored rating scales, personal bias can still impact the scores that a candidate receives. Being aware of the different types of biases can certainly help reduce their influence, but it’s still a good idea to include another step in the process that ensures an objective measurement. Something that we often recommend including is a job relevant assessment that identifies high potential candidates. Choosing an assessment that has been shown to be a valid predictor of success will not only help you identify the best candidates for the job, but it will help ensure fairness for all candidates by reducing the amount of subjectivity in the process.

- Christian Spielman, Consulting Associate

Did we miss anything? Let us know your best piece of hiring advice!

The Ultimate Hiring Manager’s Guide

Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. He has extensive experience developing, implementing, and validating legally defensible selection solutions for organizations. Steven has worked in a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and education.