Too often, a hiring manager approaches the interview process without a clear idea of the ideal traits required for the position they are looking to fill. Inevitably, the “interview” turns into a friendly conversation with the candidate, and whoever has the highest likability in the process ends up with the job. The “emotional buying” takes over…sound familiar?
Yes, it has happened to me, too. While I would never hire someone when something doesn’t feel right, making relationship-based hiring decisions has backfired many times. The lesson: Skills first, relationship second.
Here are three simple strategies that are sure to reduce “impulse buying” in the talent department:
- Compare Apples to Apples: Take an internal audit of the attributes that are consistent among your top performers in the department. Then create a standardized interviewing template. Ask EVERY candidate the same list of questions for at least part of the interview. By asking candidates the same questions, hiring managers are able to assess all candidates objectively, and ultimately hire the most qualified person for the position.
- Ask “What Have you Done?” Why is it important to ask questions in the “what have you done?” format as opposed to “what would you do?” format? It’s simple. In a hypothetical world, we can answer questions asked to our hypothetical selves (who are often a bit more awesome than our actual selves). Asking about real time situations will give you a more realistic impression of how a person actually thinks and executes when the pressure is on.
- Candidate Projects: Specifically for customer facing positions, it is important for top candidates to live a “day in the life.” Field rides and job shadowing are a start, but candidates should also be required to submit a formal report reflecting on their experience. The write-up will give you clues about many things if you pay attention. This is what to look for:
- Quality: The amount of time and effort a candidate puts forth to a well thought out and meaningful report will tell you how serious they are about the position and how much effort they will put into their work once they are on the job.
- Writing Skills: An employee’s written communication skills become an extension of your company’s brand the day they start communicating with internal and external customers on your behalf. This is something that should be evaluated before someone is hired, as it can cause detrimental effects to customer relationships and teams.
- Critical Thinking: I’ve read dozens of write-ups in which a candidate simply “reports” what they saw that day. These resumes go immediately into the trash. Consultative positions require a tremendous ability to read between the lines and assess the needs of any given situation. A candidate that can successfully articulate what they gleaned from the experience and how it might inform their strategies once they are on the job is something extraordinary and…Now we are on to something!
Regardless of industry, company size, or service, formalizing and continuously fine-tuning the talent acquisition process is critical to long-term success. As CEO of MV Transportation, Brian Kibby, often cites when discussing success, “Talent, Culture, Strategy.” We could have the best technology, bulletproof processes, and excellent strategies, but without the right people in the right positions…we limit our outcomes.