February 14, 2017

By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner TwoGreySuits

Any manager who wants to become very proficient in hiring excellent people can do so by accessing the Recruitment module in TwoGreySuits’ HR Power Centre. Managers who know how to hire excellent people make their own jobs a lot easier!

 For some reason, I consistently see hiring managers who think interviewing and selection is a rush to the finish line. But why?  Seems like they value having a position filled quickly more than they do in getting the best quality/fit candidate available. Simply stated – hiring too fast can be a costly mistake. Finding the right people takes time but the right people can have dramatic effects in quality of work, initiative, creativity, and work performance in general.  Companies that end up doing great things have spent proper and considerable time in structuring  the hiring process, they know instinctively and exactly what type of person fits the company culture.  Where possible we should allow other employees to weigh in on candidates. The one underlying assumption is that employees also know what or how certain people behaviors fit in the culture and which don’t. You would think they should know, but not always the case.

Many companies find that selecting and hiring of the right employee is a daunting task. This is probably the key driver of why companies have asked me over the years to help in a recruitment process, the real need to get it right, especially when they have failed before. Whenever I am called in to help with an employee performance issue, I do my research to try and understand why it is the way it is, and 8/10 times it can be tracked back to poor hiring processes. Inexperienced or lazy managers own most of the recruitment mistakes I see. Seasoned managers know very well how significant a difference it is when you have a high performing and fully engaged employee vs. not. Still, today there are managers out there who will just hire anyone who applies or, they may ask only a few questions before making an offer. These managers must see recruitment of good employees as 100% luck.

Before accepting an application or advertising you should have a clear description of key responsibilities and duties or tasks for the prospective new hire. Know exactly what you need. What are the duties required? What behaviors are required such as ability to work well with others? What is the desired experience level? And what reasoning or influencing ability is required? What smarts level? What specific people or customer service skills or mentality are required? Discussing the answers to interview questions immediately after the fact is highly recommended when two people are interviewing.



Without being very well prepared, is exactly where the mistakes end up happening, ie) not knowing what job skills are required or their rank order of importance, not knowing what behaviors are required in the job or how to interview for these behaviors. Sometimes hiring the best of a bad lot because “time is running out”.

Once that you detail what you require, you should also list out why a candidate would want to work for your company. Hiring managers and even seasoned recruiters often forget that recruitment is a two way street, the candidate is also assessing if this is a place they would prefer to work at. So, some selling is wise on behalf of the company, at some point in the process. I call it the EVP, Employee Value Proposition, which is a list all of the benefits and opportunities available at the company. Even small businesses have a lot to offer. Things like flexible schedules, larger scope of job responsibilities, mentorship opportunities, an entrepreneurial culture or individual development plans for each employee. Obviously, having a competitive compensation and benefits package is critical. It is not everything, but if you are trying to attract a top candidate, money often comes in to play. Including the EVP in the offer letter is a good business practice.

Before interviewing candidates develop a full recruitment strategy. Know exactly what you are looking for, (detailed job description) what experience, what behavior types will fit the culture, how the person will be measured, how they will be managed, develop job specific and behavior specific questions. Ideally we want to have a free flowing discussion with candidates so we can see how they think and interact. Building rapport at the start of the interview is critical to be able to have this type of interview. By using open ended questions we can get the candidate to talk and become more relaxed. We want to try to understand how the candidate will behave as an employee. The best way to predict that is to find out how he or she handled situations in the past. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Asking “behavior based” questions will help you predict how a candidate will potentially act as your employee. For example, if you want to learn about their own levels of professionalism on the job or where their personal standards are in this respect try asking a question such as “Tell me about a time when you acted less professionally than you would have liked to, and what was the situation and the end result?”  In these answers we are looking for information which will allow us to verify the answer in a reference and for this reason, we look for person, place, time, ie) what was the name of the other person involved, where was this, what time of day, month, year, etc.

Always under any circumstances check references. I use a 12 page form found on TwoGreySuits’ website in the Recruitment module as one of four reference checking forms provided.

Assessment tools can also provide significant insight into the ‘fit’.  There are many out there, good idea to get familiar with one and stick with it.

Bottom-line here: There is too much at stake when recruiting, and there are no substitutes for good preparation before recruitment begins.


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