Foolproof hiring

18 Mar 2014 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Hiring for attitude, capability and potential means we need to be able to spot high performers. That comes down to asking the right questions and putting a 'ninja-like' recruitment process in place to make sure you hire high performers and make wise decisions.

Over the years, I have hired a fair few people and I can't say I have always got it right. Who has? However, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback and it makes you learn quickly. No one wants a bad egg in the business. They sour the whole team and taint the atmosphere in an instant. Out of ten hires, the averages are that 5 will fail, 3 will be okay and 2 will be fantastic. So how do you ensure you always hire from the 20% comprised of high performers?

Here are a few strategies on how to get it right and make your hiring process one step closer to foolproof:

1. Define Attitudes
To get the people you really want, you must first identify the critical characteristics that define what you need in a top-notch team member.

Interview all your managers about their 3 best and 3 worst performers over last 3 years. Managers often find it fairly easy to identify these employees and to list the attitudes that they share. Once they have their list, however, they are usually unsure about what to do next.

Given this list, you need to clearly define each attitude or value. Managers frequently use words like “flexible,” or “open to change” to describe what they are looking for in a good job candidate. These words can, however, mean different things to different people. Ideally, the definition of an attitude should include some concrete, specific behaviour. After the attitude is clearly defined you can then develop interview questions that will provide information about the candidate in these areas.

For example, “flexible” could be defined as “is constructive and positive in their approach to change” and the interview question could be “Tell me about a major change you had to deal with at work.”

2. Use Competency Questions
Structure interview questions around the core competencies you have identified. Then ask candidates for specific examples of past performance to predict future performance. This will give valuable insight into an individual’s preferred style of working and help predict behaviours in situations the candidate is likely to face in the role.

For example, you want to assess a candidate’s interpersonal competence. The more collaborative a candidate is, the more likely they will thrive in a workplace which functions on project teams. A typical question for the interview might be: “Describe a situation where you got people to work together.”

This style of interview can be as much as seven times more accurate than a traditional-style interview for selecting higher performers.

3. Ask the Right Questions
Let’s face it; asking, “What’s your greatest weakness?” isn’t going tell you whether a candidate is fit for a role. Knowing the right questions to ask is key to making savvy hiring decisions. Avoid questions that are leading, closed-ended, hypothetical, arbitrary and of course illegal. Base your questions around the skills required for the role and you’ll be on the right track to ascertaining whether the person sitting in front of you is well suited to the job.

4. Test Skills
Candidates don’t mind doing this as long as it feels relevant. It’s a simple and effective way to see how an individual performs under pressure and check the various claims they’ve made on their CV. There are a number of different types of test you can use. A writing test will help evaluate if an individual possesses the minimum knowledge to be proficient in a specific position. A presentation on a brief will show the amount of knowledge a candidate has on a given subject and how they perform under pressure. Psychometric tests will help identify a candidate’s aptitudes, personality and ability.

Remember the aim is to give you a clear indicator of future job performance or success so make sure that the test matches the criteria you want to measure.

5. Build a Rapport
While it’s important to scope out how a candidate has handled difficult situations or copes with an on-the-spot skills test, you should also be mindful of building a rapport and being nice to them! Remember that they will talk about their experience and it could reach the ears of someone you know or do business with.

Your aim is to engage them in a dialogue that encourages open communication and understanding. Let them do as much talking as possible. Use an 80-20-rule approach. The interviewer should talk for 20% of the time, the interviewee for 80%. Keep the focus on them by asking relevant questions and listening to their responses. The more space you give the interviewee to talk, the more they will relax and the greater chance you have of earning their trust.

If you would like to know more about how to pick the cream of the crop, I can sit down with you; it takes about four hours to put a concrete recruitment process together for you. Finding the high performers isn't a dark art; a process is necessary.

If you are interested in me helping you put one together, just let me know and you can book a session:

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