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Hiring Decisions That Can Make or Break You

Let’s face it.  The stakes are high when it comes to hiring new employees.  A bad hire can cost your business somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000, or even more.  Since most of the hiring decisions come down to the in-person interview, businesses must insure hiring managers are trained and skilled at interviewing to increase the likelihood the best candidate is chosen for the position.  However, most managers are often promoted or hired as a result of their technical expertise, not their ability to hire others.  This means that companies must provide hiring managers with all the tools they need to effectively fulfill their role in the hiring process.  Here are some ways to improve hiring managers’ interviewing skills.

Understanding their role in the hiring process.  First, it is important for hiring managers to understand their role in the hiring process.  Before candidates are interviewed, companies expend a great amount of time and money creating branding, seeking out, and screening potential job candidates.  Hiring managers will be more successful and will want to improve their interviewing skills if they are aware of all of the effort involved with the hiring process and know what happens before and after they interview job candidates.

Knowing the cost of hiring decisions.  Hiring managers must also be conscious of the costs incurred when hiring a new employee and the impact of their hiring decisions on the company.  By informing those who will interview and ultimately decide who to hire, interviewers are provided with a different view of their role in the hiring process.  Business owners should want their hiring managers to understand the impact a bad hire can have on everyone in the company.  When training hiring managers, have them calculate the cost per hire and compare that cost to other costs, i.e., purchasing new equipment, pay increases and bonuses.  Hence, hiring managers will know exactly how much a bad hire will cost the company and they will be more apt to improve their interviewing skills.

Creating a structured interview.  Although you entrust your hiring managers with the hefty responsibility of choosing new hires to join your company, it’s not a bad idea to provide your interviewers with a preparation checklist.  Items on the checklist may include the following questions:

  1. What is the company’s structure, mission and strategy?

  2. Am I familiar with the benefits and perks associated with the specific position?

  3. Do I fully understand the job description of the position I am trying to fill?

  4. Have I coordinated with my team and read all candidates’ resumes?

  5. Have I prepared a list of interview questions to ask?

  6. And, have the interview questions been reviewed with HR for legality?

It is also a good idea to make sure that interviewers really understand the position they are trying to fill and have a firm grasp on your company’s culture.  Interviewers should not only ask questions aimed to seek out job candidates who possess the required skill sets for the position, but should also look to see whether the candidate exhibits the company’s values and if they can fill a void in the team.  A skill set can often be learned by training; what cannot be learned is how a new hire fits in with the job position or the company.

Conduct interview training with hiring managers.  Most hiring managers will tell you that they don’t need training because they have been interviewing candidates for a number of years and a training session will take away from their primary job. But it is possible that they have been repeating an ineffective methodology for years.  Teach hiring managers to be more effective when interviewing by employing a behavior-based interview model to see how a candidate behaved in specific work situations.  This model is useful because it offers a window into past behavior that, in turn, can provide insight into how a candidate will behave as an employee in your company.  When asking a behavior-based question, an interviewer should probe the candidate with situation-based, action-based, result-based, and report-based questions.   For instance, you will want to get a description of the situation including which players were involved in the situation and the role the candidate played.  Ask about the specific actions the candidate took and what result occurred from their actions.  You should also ask who the candidate reported to, which lets the candidate know you may follow up with that person to confirm what you are being told.   Further, a session on interview training should not merely be a lecture but should consist of interactive exercises in a group setting.  As in sports, you play like you practice.  Asking questions in a conversational manner, active listening, creating a rhythm of questions instead of an interrogation, interpreting body language and keeping control of the interview are all skills that require practice.  More importantly, repetition is key when trying to correct and improve one’s interviewing style.

Use standard forms and processes.  Each interview is like a new experience for hiring managers, since they don’t get a lot of time to practice.  They don’t develop methods to keep candidates on track and to retrieve the information they require to fill the position; they don’t take the time to improve their interviewing skills; and they most likely don’t know what they want to get out of an interview going in.  Instead, make it easy for them and develop a standard form and process that hiring managers can use in each interview.  Include a form based on a detailed job description that will allow the interviewer to measure each candidate based on their skills, motivation, aptitude, attitude and temperament.  This “score sheet” will provide hiring managers with an organized and uniform hiring process enabling hiring managers to choose the most skilled and best fitting candidate for your company.

Know the applicable laws.  Hopefully, your hiring managers have enough common sense not to ask questions like “What’s your religion?” or “How many kids do you have?”  However, we cannot stress enough the importance of all the legal do’s and don’ts involved in the hiring process.  Ensure all of your hiring managers are aware of and understand the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s protected classes, i.e., age, disability, genetic information, equal pay, pregnancy, national origin, race, religion, sex, etc. You want your hiring managers to be certain they can carry out an insightful interview without making any legal blunders or errors.  Train hiring managers to ask questions focused on candidates’ job aptitude and cultural fit.  It is a good idea to be apprised of your state’s and industry’s applicable legal requirements for hiring.  Hiring managers should also know how to extend a proper and legal job offer to prevent any legal missteps.


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