Four Things Companies Do To Shoot Themselves In The Foot When Hiring – Part 1

I recently asked over one hundred CEOs and their key executives, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprising everyone replied “Yes.” Not simply important, but critical. So then I asked,”If it is critical, then how many of you spend time each month focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprising, only three people raised their hand.

WOW, something that is critical to the success of the organization, gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need. Is that the way most critical issues are handled in your company? No strategic planning. No thought or action discussed or taken until the problem arises? Only once the problem arises is it dealt with it. Until then it is that famous management strategy, “Out of sight, out of mind?” or “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

I believe this management style only happens with hiring. Most other critical issues are regularly discussed, on-going programs such as, cost reductions, product development, increasing sales or market share, customer service, improving operational efficiencies are all constantly discussed and often major components of the company's strategic plan. In fact, I have seen many strategic plans that all have great plans for growth. Yet few ever include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. Strategic hiring is rarely part of a strategic plan.

I believe companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four major land mines when hiring:

1) Untrained Managers – Hands down the number one reason hiring fails. This is the biggest problem with hiring in most companies. Few managers are actually properly trained on how to hire. Most managers have never even attended one course or read a book on hiring. For the few that have had training, it is usually limited to interviewing training. Granted this is better than nothing, but interviewing is only one step in an effective hiring process. If you aren't finding qualified candidates, all interviewing training will do is validate they aren't qualified. If the job isn't properly defined then where you look for candidates may not be the right place, resulting in unqualified candidates.

The fact is the vast majority of managers use the “Tribal Hiring Training” program. Too often a person learns to hire from the person that hired them. And the person that hired them learned from the person that hired then, and so it goes all the way back to Moses. All this really does is perpetuate hiring mistakes from one generation to another. It doesn't resolve the problem.

If companies are serious about improving hiring, step one is to develop an effective hiring process and then training their managers in all aspects of the process.

2) Poorly Defined Job – This mistake results in the search going sideways before it even starts. Traditional job descriptions for the most part aren't job descriptions at all. Most describe a person. Does this read like your job descriptions; Minimum 5 years experience, minimum BA degree, then a list of minimum skills/knowledge and certifications, and let's not forget the endless list of behaviors the candidate must have, team player, high energy, self-starter, strategic thinker, good communicator, BLAH BLAH BLAH. Of course there is also the list of the basic duties, tasks and responsibilities. These are really important, but as a person with 5 years of experience, who doesn't know these already? This traditional job description defines a minimally qualified person, not the job. So before the search starts it is all about finding the least qualified person. Any wonder why the least qualified person shows up at your door?

Instead of defining the least qualified person, start by defining superior performance in the role or the results expected to be achieved once the person is on board. For example, Improve customer service feedback scores from X to Y. Reduce turnover from X% to Y% within the next twelve months. Implement a sales forecasting process that includes a rolling six month forecast that is accurate within X% of actual sales. Now this is the real job. It defines expectations, not some vague terms or minimum requirements. For every job there are usually at least four of these results required. The job is being defined by performance. In order for the person to be able to achieve these results they must have the right experience. Maybe it is five years, maybe three or maybe ten, it doesn't matter. If they can do these it is enough. Now go find a person that can explain how they will deliver these once on board and you have the right person.

3) Finding candidates – See part 2

4) Disrespecting the Candidates – See part 2

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad

 

Unless You’re Hiring “We” – Don’t Let Candidates Hide Under the “We” Umbrella

I was recently interviewing a candidate with the CEO of the company I'm doing a search for. As the candidate is answering a question the CEO stops him and says, “I hate it when people use the words we and they in their answers. I'm hiring you, not we or they, so I want to know what you did. I would prefer it if you used ‘I' instead.” I thought WOW that is a pretty strong statement and it clearly signaled to the candidate how to better answer his questions.  So what do you think was the next word out of the candidate's mouth? If you answered “I” you would be wrong. It was “we.”

It wasn't that the candidate didn't want to answer the question. It wasn't that he didn't want to follow the CEO's suggestion. He was in the habit of saying “we.”  Like most candidates, he has been trained to respond this way. Every book, coach, recruiter and outplacement firm seems to stress the need to use the word “we.” The fact is, there is a need to use the word “we” during an interview, but not all the time. As the interviewer you should help the candidate navigate these waters.

It isn't the candidate's fault for using “we and they.” I believe managers have to take some of the blame for this. For example, if a candidate uses “I” too often the interviewer often thinks, not a team player, they have a big ego, this person is arrogant, it's all about them, they couldn't possibly do all of this, or they like to take all the credit. Have you ever had these thoughts? What honest manager hasn't? As a result candidates have been trained to to respond with “we” so as to eliminate those thoughts. For the most part, managers are getting the monster they created.

A good interview is a blend of “I” and “we.” Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and interviewers need to help tame the monster.  Just as the CEO did in his interview, consider working with the candidates. They are in an environment where they are not comfortable. It is not the same as when they are working and in their comfort zone. This is a common mistake made by interviewers. Cut the candidates some slack. It's an interview. Give them the same consideration you would want if you were a candidate out interviewing for a job.

Instead of eliminating the candidate, try coaching the candidate much like the CEO did. Let them know they have your permission to use the word “I.” Reassure them that you will not think they aren't a team player or have a big ego. It will take some coaching and patience so the candidate gets comfortable using “I” instead of “we.” If you help them just a little you may not lose a good candidate for the wrong reasons.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

How Many Interviews Should It Take To Hire Someone?

Q. How many interviews should a company have when hiring someone? Our company has 9 or 10 people meet the candidate. Some candidates complain it is too long. Is there a normal number of interviews before hiring someone?

It isn't the quantity of the interviews but the quality of the interviews that counts.  When jointly interviewing with my clients I find that the problem is that each person is asking the same basic questions as the previous interviewer. Many of them are not all that relevant to the job. So they really aren't learning anything new and neither is the candidate. These are just “get acquainted” interviews which don't serve a great purpose.

If you want to have this many interviews, your people should be trained in how to interview. Interviewing is not something one picks up along the way in their career. Or at least it shouldn't be. I would recommend bringing in a good training program. Then, once your managers learn how to interview, you can assign specific aspects of the job for each one to probe deeply on instead of just repeating the same old questions everyone else has asked.  For example, maybe one interviewer focuses on the leadership skills, another interviewer focuses on the team building, another focuses on how the candidate's experience aligns with the needs of the job and so on. Now there is value to each interview. Since each person is focusing on a specific issue there is also time to probe deeply, get the candidate to provide examples and do a thorough vetting of the candidate. It also provides adequate time for the candidate to ask questions.

The key is training your team so the interviews are not routine and canned, but rather each interviewer is skilled in the art of interviewing and has a purpose for the interview.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard 

Your Reputation Can Impact Hiring Top Talent

We were retained to conduct a search for a VP of Marketing. The position had been open for more than six months, during which time the company had interviewed ten people who showed little interest in the position or the company. In fact, one offer had been turned down. At first glance this seemed strange, since it was a good company offering reasonable compensation.

Shortly after contacting prospective candidates working for competitors and in related industries, the mystery became clear. The company had a reputation for high turnover, lack of innovative products, poor leadership and low pay. One candidate stated, “It's known as a “burn 'em and churn 'em company.” Another candidate stated, “I'm interested in hearing about the position as long as it isn't X company” of course it was X company. All of these issues had been true three years back, but new management had since come on and started changing things. The reputation, unfortunately, lagged behind.

In conjunction with the company we put together a marketing plan beginning with changing the Web site. We encouraged the company to address the baggage of the past while emphasizing the changes that had been made The redesigned site also included testimonials from happy employees, information about the improved company benefits and management's new commitment to employees. Another section discussed the company's new products and how they were performing in the marketplace, as well as the company's dedication to R&D. Finally, we changed how potential candidates were treated when they came in for interviews. All interviews were now viewed as a PR event.

As a result, even if a candidate didn't end up getting the job, they still walked away with a completely different image of the company. Most walked away now wanting the job.

We ultimately filled the search with a candidate who originally told us she didn't even want to interview. In fact, she told us the same thing three times before finally agreeing to an interview. She came away overwhelmed by the change and impressed with the new management. She was eager to go to work for the reborn organization.

Understanding your company’s reputation is an important issue when conducting a search. Regardless of your reputation, developing a compelling marketing plan is key to a successful search. Ensuring your company’s image is well received by candidates will help you attract more top candidates and reduce the cost per hire.

Start with your Web site, as this is the first place all candidates go once hearing the name of the company.

Remember all interviews are a PR event.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

If this was helpful please pass it along to others. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Can Your Candidates Demonstrate Initiative Before You Hire Them?

Q. What questions do you find are helpful for getting to the candidate's motivation and cultural fit?

 One question that I believe addresses these issues is centered around understanding the candidate's drive or initiative. Granted there are others, but I think this particular one deals with both.

Just about all jobs require some level of initiative. Most managers want a person that is willing to take initiative in their job. It is a lot easier to hold someone back than it is to try and push them forward. We believe all top talent is self-motivated and will take initiative.

The question I like to ask candidates is, “Can you give me an example in your current or last position where you demonstrated high initiative?” or “Can you give me an example in your current or last position where you did something you weren't required or asked to do, but you did it because you believed it needed to be done?”  These are excellent phone interviewing questions.

Depending on the level of the person the answer will vary. I wouldn't expect that same initiative from a truck driver as I would a VP level person. It also deals with the speed of one's culture.  After hearing the answer you might think this is high initiative or you might think, “If that is high initiative in their organization, in ours that would be considered standing still.”  Regardless of the answer, you'll know whether or not they demonstrate this trait at the right level for your position and your organization.

Finally, I find this to be one of the best phone interviewing questions. If the candidate can't provide an example of initiative or doesn't meet the standard you are seeking, do you really need to bring them in for an interview?

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard