After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hire Education 101

Category: Tips for Hiring Managers
I am frequently asked why I sit in the interviews with my clients and candidates.  Many think it is so that I can hit the candidate in the head when something inappropriate is said.  Though that is a daydream of mine, the primary reason is that many clients do not know how to effectively conduct an interview.  One of the most valuable tools I provide to my clients is moderating the interview process. 
As Cindy and I have noted in our book, during my first ten years in the business, I often sent candidates off to interviews assuming that my client would interview the candidate in a very professional manner.  Over the years, I found that this is not always the case.
My candidates related experiences including the following:  the interviewer had not read the candidate’s resume before the meeting; the interviewer spoke for the majority of the time; the meeting consisted of asking the candidate 30 canned questions unrelated to the position; no questions were asked; and on goes the list.
Interviewers can be executives, business owners, engineers, CPAs, doctors, sales managers, foremen, secretarial barn bosses - or the only person available at the time.  While possibly very good at their responsibilities, they may have no clue how to interview a very important person, that person being you.
From the company side of the interview, it is critical that someone develop a plan for the hiring process.  It’s not hard to do, but this process is often overlooked by smaller, resource-challenged organizations.  Some simple preparation/planning will greatly increase the odds of a successful hire and decrease the likelihood of a bad hire.  The following simplified steps can enhance the benefit of time spent interviewing.
1.      Prepare a position description that covers at least 80 percent of the job. Be as specific as possible. 
2.      Identify a salary range for the position.
3.      Determine who will screen the resume flow and what objective criteria will be used.
4.      Determine the process.  Will there be two face-to-face interviews before a hire is made?  Several?  How many candidates will be invited for a second interview?  When will benefits be discussed?  Who will make the offer?  Are we going to negotiate?
5.      If one person will handle the entire process, that person should be up-to-date on interview basics.  Dozens of resources are available on the internet and in book form.  You do not need a PhD to conduct a good interview, but you do need to prepare some questions that will extract the information you need about the candidate.
6.      If there will be a team of individuals (no more than three, please) initially screening candidates, each member of the team should be assigned a different aspect on which to focus during the conversation.  The company’s selling points and the focus of the questions should be different for each interviewer. For example, “Our training programs are outstanding!” should not be hammered home by four interviewers.  One will do nicely.
7.      Balance the time spent with the candidate among three priorities:  educating the candidate as to the role; selling the opportunity; and allowing the candidate sufficient time to relate his/her qualifications and ask appropriate questions.
8.      Grade each candidate against preplanned objective criteria immediately after parting with the candidate.  Memories begin to get fuzzy almost immediately.  Your instincts are strongest right after the meeting.  Document them.
9.      Provide feedback as soon as possible.  In the case of a negative outcome, a phone call is ideal, but a promptly sent letter or e-mail will suffice. (Wait a day or two.  An e-mail arriving before the person exits the building may be a little too prompt.)

This is a bare-bones listing of what should be considered before initiating the hiring process. 
In today’s economy, it might seem that candidates are plentiful, but finding and attracting the best candidates is still a challenge.  The individuals you want on your team will be making judgments about the company as you are making your judgments about them.  They have choices also.  If your process is organized, informative, crisp and exciting, your chance of landing a significant asset increases significantly.

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