By: Larry Fish, President
For some odd reason, many of my fondest memories in life surround the Thanksgiving holiday and my nine years living in Southwest Ohio. It was a great time in my career, I met a lovely woman from Tipp City who chose to marry me (she stands firm by that decision after 38 years), and there was a real sense of pride in our community (do you remember “WKRP in Cincinnati?”). I always have thanked my good fortune in relationships for my spouse “checking references,” and for us not becoming a divorce statistic that is fast approaching 55% of all marriages.
Transferring this line of thinking to a business viewpoint, how many business owners know the exact reasons why so many managers and supervisors at their respective companies leave shortly after they are hired? And what about those situations that seem to get off on a very positive note and then veer quickly to a negative end? If you have been in this situation before (or still are), consider the up-front effort you have invested in defining the hiring criteria as well as the inattention and subjectivity that often invades the interviewing process. As in any problem solving analysis, by examining the reasons a bad hiring decision was made can help identify common errors in the selection process. The following points may help you avoid this vicious circle of ongoing replacement hiring in the future.
Define the Role
A business owner must develop a specific picture of what they want from the position that they want to fill. This would include investing the time to:
- Develop job specifications– those items such as certifications, background and experience desired.
- Develop a job description – the primary duties and responsibilities of the job.
- Develop Critical Success Factors– those inherent behavioral characteristics that a candidate must possess to be successful at a particular employer (This is the key!!).
Achieve A Consensus On Qualifications
Make sure that the business owner and the other managers who will work with the selected candidate are “on the same page” in terms of the aforementioned specifications, description and Critical Success Factors. It is most common that the hiring principals differ in agreement regarding these key elements. As a result, confusion exists among the management team and mixed signals are sent to the newly hired individual about their responsibilities and span of control. By doing an internal “double-check,” a greater degree of consensus is achieved prior to the commencement of the recruiting and selection process.
Establish An Interview Plan
Sounds too simple doesn’t it . . . but how often does this phase of the process have any real organization or flow? All we mean is to make sure the most appropriate internal decision makers are talking to the candidates. This requires sufficient time to be allocated for the interview and discussion about job expectations, company philosophy, etc. It would also help to supply each interviewer with a rating sheet that would be filled out immediately after the interview. These notes would then be used by the team after the candidate has completed their round of interviews to gain agreement on next steps leading toward a selection decision. It is important at this point to stress the objective, observable characteristics that the candidate displayed.
Check Their References!
I cannot underscore enough the value garnered through performing reference checks. Getting in touch with a candidate’s past supervisors who can comment on their work quality and job performance is most valuable. Do not be dissuaded from performing this step because you may feel “their employer won’t tell me anything anyhow!” This is not true in most situations, especially if you are well networked and respected in your industry, are known to check references, and have mastered the technique.
Make sure not to omit verifying educational achievements, salary history, and industry certification credentials as these are the most common for candidates to knowingly exaggerate or misstate. Finally, if you feel you do not have the time or are otherwise uncomfortable performing this task yourself, there are many third-party services who specialize in this task.
Give it your all in this regard by developing good hiring practices so fewer turkeys will fly in your door. Happy Thanksgiving!
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