When candidates enter our offices for interviews, their primary objective is to get us to like them. This is a smart tactic because it works! We find ourselves liking them and wanting to offer them jobs. But this kind of subjectivity can distract us from the ultimate goal of effective selection. I’m reminded of one of the Seven Habits in Covey’s book, “Begin with the end in mind.” This statement is especially true in the perpetual quest for quality human resources.
In my 20 years of experience as a recruiter, I have discovered three proven methods for building objectivity into your hiring process.
I highly recommend that you settle on three to five questions that are non-negotiable. Ask these of every candidate for the sole purpose of excluding as many candidates as early as possible. The most common disqualifiers have to do with salary requirements, candidate availability to begin the job, travel requirements, appropriate health issues, and candidate experience. You can even train a subordinate employee to perform a screening interview to save you time.
Next, select a group of ten to twelve questions that have proven to determine the character, work ethic, skill level, and desires of candidates. The ultimate goal in this stage of the interview process is to see if there is a potential match between the position and the candidate. The selection process becomes more effective and objective, however, when you ask each question of each candidate in the same order. Take copious notes in order to rate each candidate’s responses and compare them to one another with considerably less bias.
Assess and Assess Again
I have discovered that there’s no better way to accurately predict future excellent performance than with a valid pre-employment assessment. Some of the simple, quick, and inexpensive assessments are ideal for entry level positions and do a good job at determining the candidate’s attitudes toward alcohol, drugs, work, and honesty. Some assessments, like personality tests, may be one-dimensional, but they can be highly effective at determining a candidate’s suitability for a sales position and little else. The best and most accurate predictor for job success, however, is and always will be I.Q. or simply “Intelligence.”
I highly recommend a multi-dimensional assessment that is part I.Q. test, part personality test, and part job interest survey. The assessment I like best allows you to create benchmarks in each of the three categories, as well as an overall score. The most useful feature is the ability to compare the candidate to any of your current employees who are rated as excellent. The software will even calculate mathematically how well the candidate matches up with the best people you have on staff.
Of course, when the interview goes well, and the test also goes well, you have greater confidence in the candidates you choose.
Never Hire Without Protection
The value of references in the hiring process has been debated considerably over the past few years. Companies may be reluctant to give out substantive information, but you simply have to insist on references. When I tell candidates that they cannot be considered for the job without references from three managers or supervisors who can speak with direct knowledge of their performance, they find a way to get me what I need.
The sad thing is that most companies don’t even follow up on references when they’re provided. Objective information is especially important in the interview process because it allows you to test the candidate’s own words. When you apply objective measures, the best candidates are reaffirmed, and you weed out the candidates who can’t back up their claims. A strong interview, valid assessment, and thorough reference check will cull out the misfits from the matches.
If you build objectivity into your selection process, you will watch the quality of your hires improve and see retention reach new heights. The final outcome will be motivated employees and excellent performance. Why? Because you began with the end in mind. You now know that if you desire excellence, you must have excellent people on board. The difference is that now, you’re better skilled at finding them.
Michael Duke is the President of NEWSCHOOL Recruiting, a Louisville based recruiter specializing in small and medium sized business needs. He is an author, speaker and thought leader in the areas of recruiting and retention, motivation and culture building. Learn more about him at www.michaelduke.com. Michael can be reached at [email protected].