Hiring the right person in the right job, whether through recruiting from outside, internal transfer, or internal promotion is, by far, the most difficult and rewarding challenge facing most organizations. It always will be. It is also the greatest opportunity to increase the effectiveness of any organization. Here are Ten Steps any organization should take to improve their batting average in this most critical part of their enterprise.
Step 1. Start with the end in mind. Start by answering the question ” What would be the perfect match of candidate to job requirements?” Get specific – talk about the job, not the person. Determine the best possible skill, experience, industry knowledge, education and accomplishment combination that would make the best possible candidate. Ask the people with knowledge of the position – the stakeholders – to provide that information – in a structure where it can be captured. Don’t let the applicant pool create the job requirements.
Step 2. Get to the heart of the matter: since success is most often created by the right mix of behaviors, attitudes and values, and personal skills, get the stakeholders to identify what mix of those three elements are needed for success in the job. This step becomes increasingly important at higher job levels. There may be a Job Description, but most of those documents simply aren’t designed to capture that kind of information. And few are dynamic enough to reflect changes in content. This requires a structured approach to identifying those elements. It can be done – and done well. And if it is done well and becomes a part of the process used to select, it will increase success – a lot.
Step 3. Expand the pool of applicants: the Wall Street Journal ran a first page article on symphonies that had been plagued with a shortage of qualified musician candidates. One symphony started a ” blind audition.” The candidates played the audition music from behind a screen – the interviewers couldn’t see them – but they could hear their music. Funny thing happened – lots more qualified candidates were identified. No more knockouts on gender, race, brand of instrument, hair style, school ties, appearance, fat, skinny, et al. Make sure your organization isn’t knocking out people that can “play your music” at the beginning of the selection process.
Step 4. Train a team of stakeholders so they can effectively evaluate candidates in the interview phase of selection. Most organizations do no training in evaluation skills – big mistake. If you have had more than your share of mistakes in selection, continuing to do the things done in the past and expecting a different outcome doesn’t make much sense. Provide the interviewers with full information on the position, and assign each interviewer specific areas of evaluation.
Step 5. In 99% of cases, no applicant will be a perfect fit. Define the “must haves,” “good to haves,” and “nice to haves” before the interview process. Don’t let the interviewers rationalize those requirements based on the available applicant pool.
Step 6. Supplement interview evaluations, reference checks and other information with assessments to help define fit. If you currently use assessments, audit their effectiveness and the degree of trust and application they really have. There are great assessments and assessment processes available – the status quo is not a good reason to continue to use what was used in the past.
Step 7. Act quickly, decisively and with purpose in the selection cycle. Nothing impresses top candidates more than a process that communicates organization, purpose and decisiveness.
Step 8. Should the hiring manager say the candidate selected for employment is “the best we could find, ” continue to look. That rationalization has caused more selection failures than any other.
Step 9. Select the person that the organization, based on objective measures and intuitive feelings, is convinced is the right person. Then help them succeed – but stay close – no people decision is ever 100% accurate. The best thing to do in a mistake situation is act on it as soon as it is evident that a mistake has been made. People in the organization will know within two weeks to three months if a mistake was made. Unfortunately, in many organizations, it takes a year or more for the “leadership” to acknowledge the mistake and act.
Step 10. Create a final feedback step in the selection process to evaluate what could have been done better or differently. Have successful hires participate in that evaluation.
Ten steps – sounds like a lot – it isn’t. The organizations that use the Ten Steps in this process are much more successful in their selections than the ones that don’t. If you can see ways to improve your own process by using all or some of these Ten Steps, then get rid of the status quo and change – today.