Here’s a motto every business should live buy: Hasty hiring brings frequent firing. Unfortunately, however, the hiring “process” for many firms still consists of little more than posting a job opening, sorting resumes and hiring the first person who makes a good impression and survives the gauntlet of interviews.
But the consequences of poor choices can be severe. If you keep an unproductive person on, you’re damaging your business. But when you fire someone you face administrative costs, possible severance pay and maybe unemployment compensation. Then you’ll have to pay to attract and train a new candidate. Meanwhile, you pay others more to take up the slack.
Toughen Up Your Interviews
“It’s better to take your time and temporarily be short-staffed than to lower your standards,” says hiring expert Dave Anderson, who’s given over a thousand leadership presentations in 13 countries. Anderson’s key advice? Become a better interviewer! And use the interview process in new ways to eliminate weak candidates and find the perfect fit.
For example, many interviewers throw softball questions at job candidates. You should toughen up that process and use it to eliminate or “knock out” candidates through smart, rigorous, values-shaped questioning. This turns hiring around. Instead of it being an inclusive process, it becomes an elimination event. “The knockout interview begins before you ever meet a candidate,” says Anderson. “In fact, your goal is to avoid face time as much as possible. From the very first resume, start looking for reasons to cut individuals from consideration.”
It’s About Quality, Not Quantity
Stop believing you have to see large numbers of applicants to find the best one. You don’t. It’s exhausting and unproductive to interview lots of the wrong people. Make as many cuts as you can with an initial phone interview. Here are five tactics that will save you time and help you find perfect hires more quickly:
1. Look for an ability to be faithful in the little things. When it comes to making great hiring choices, no detail is too small. How well a person performs on little things is indicative of how well they’ll perform on big ones. Start evaluating this capability when the first résumés arrive. As you read them, look for reasons to put some in the “reject” pile, keeping in mind that you want to uphold your organization’s standards of excellence.
2. Make sure the candidate has the basic ability to do the job. In addition to making sure that candidates communicate clearly and respectfully, your task is to ensure they can fulfill the core, non-negotiable requirements of the position. For example, you may want to ask applicants if they’re available to work certain days or hours, or if they’re comfortable performing specific tasks.
3. Let them do the talking: It’s an interview, not a monologue. Many business owners try to put job candidates at ease by doing most of the talking and spending much of the interview telling the candidate about the company. Your job as leader, however, is to assess an applicant’s character and competency. Don’t be intimidating or overbearing, but keep in mind that your goal is to evaluate the prospect’s accomplishments, because past performance is far more telling than past experience.
4. Consider their journey, not just their current location: Don’t judge applicants strictly by the career “level” they’ve reached. Dig deeper to determine how they got to where they are. You may be surprised at what you find. Some people are given a generous head start in life, while others have been forced to navigate many obstacles. These candidates may have faced the kinds of challenges that can forge greater strength of character and persistence.
5. Share your core values before hiring. The objective of the knockout interview formula is to find a reason to say “no” to a job candidate. By sharing your core values with applicants, you may find that some knock themselves out for you. Describe your organization’s core values and behavioral expectations before extending an offer. Let applicants know that you have non-negotiable standards for integrity, teamwork, attitude and attention to detail. Then describe what these behaviors look like in practice.
This formula works because it forces candidates to show through their actions that they have initiative, really want the job, and can be an asset to your business.
About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.