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Perfect Phrases for Perfect Hiring
Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Interviewing and Hiring the Best Employees
By Lori Davila, Margot King
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Lori Davila and Margot King
All rights reserved.
Define Your Ideal Candidates
The most important step in hiring the perfect employee is also the very first step—clearly defining what you need (not just what you want) in a candidate so that your overall organization, not just you, will significantly benefit from your hiring decision. To find your "match made in heaven," start by identifying key factors that describe the whole person you are looking for. Look for skills and qualities that have been learned, that can be learned, and that can't be learned, but also be aware of some other important aspects such as the candidate's motivation and drive. For example, if someone has learned a software program or two, having to learn another program may be less important than hiring a person who is genuinely motivated and possesses a passion for helping others resolve issues in a customer service role. Ranking a candidate's performance and personal skills/qualities higher than a technical skill that can be learned on the job is something to consider.
Start your needs assessment by identifying these key areas for your open position:
* Technical Knowledge and Skills. These are learned skills obtained through education and/or on-the-job training. Examples include software programs, accounting expertise, and effective advertising strategies.
* Performance Skills. These are required skills that go above and beyond the technical skills and are usually part of a person's inherent makeup. Examples of these skills include planning and organizing, customer service orientation, relationship building, analyzing, and strategic thinking.
* Personal Qualities and Motivations. These are also ingrained in a person's makeup and are nearly impossible to obtain satisfactorily as a learned behavior. These qualities will reveal if a candidate will do the job, not just if he can do the job. Examples include initiative, adaptability, competitiveness, and goal orientation.
* Other Qualifications. Minimum requirements to do the job, such as educational degree and years of experience in a particular field.
Unfortunately, the majority of hiring managers spend little to no time defining candidate qualifications because their primary work responsibilities have a way of piling up and demanding all of their attentions. Ironically, a lack of focus on this crucial step is often the leading cause of business pain, loss, disruption, and extraordinary expenses. Don't get caught in this trap! Keep the following points in mind:
* It's impossible to properly recruit, screen, and evaluate candidates without knowing the specifics of what you are looking for.
* Your success in hiring employees who will add value and flourish within your organization is directly related to how well you perform this initial step of defining requirements in the hiring process.
* It is advisable to tackle this step with other key stakeholders in your organization so that down the road, those who have an interest in the open position can't change their minds or influence a hiring decision that is not in the best interest of the company. You can conduct a facilitated brainstorming session where key decision makers can participate in, guide, and approve the job definition process, or you can circulate a job description template to your team along with questions. Request that questionnaires come back to a central point for compilation, editing, and then reissue for final approval.
* To clarify qualifications, seek out others who are currently holding or have previously held the open position. Also consider getting feedback from team members, peers, and managers of the position, as well as other external and internal contacts who will regularly interact with the position, such as Human Resources and other key influencers. You may not be able to see all of the needs of the open position yourself, so working with others who have different perspectives will ensure that checks and balances are in place.
* Avoid the number one hiring mistake—hiring someone in your mirror image. It is human nature to gravitate to people we like—people with common interests, values, and personalities; however, when we do this, we're putting the true needs of the organization last.
Define the Right Job Profile
Defining the right profile for your open position requires the creation of a detailed job description containing the following specific items:
* Position Title
* Relationships and Roles—description of whom this employee reports to, who reports to this employee, and other working relationships.
* Job Specifics—name of the division or department, geographic location, salary grade/range, employee status (full-time, part-time, contractor, etc.), travel requirements, and start date.
* Position Purpose—summary describing the nature, level, purpose, and objective of the job (usually three sentences or fewer).
* Duties and Responsibilities—list of duties, essential functions, continuing responsibilities, and accountabilities of the position. Each responsibility that comprises of at least 5 percent of the employee's time should be included. Determine the percentage of these duties in relation to the total job and note them accordingly.
* Job Qualifications—the minimum qualifications, specifications, and standards required to perform the essential functions of the job. Tie qualifications directly to the job duties and include areas such as education, licenses, certifications, experience, knowledge, and skills.
* Other Physical, Environmental, Mental, and Special Requirements—list other demands that are required for performing the essential functions. Examples include climbing ladders, standing for long periods of time, lifting materials up to 50 pounds, reading documents or instruments, reasoning, utilizing computers in a PC Windows environment, and heavy travel schedules.
A well-developed job description provides insurmountable benefits. It ensures that everyone involved in hiring the new employee is on the same page during all recruiting, screening, interviewing, and decision-making efforts. It also provides the new hire with an understanding of the accountabilities, duties, and responsibilities she is expected to fulfill, alleviating future misunderstandings and conflicts. See the Sample Job Description Template, next page.
Position Purpose: Develop, manage, and execute all sales training programs to include initial new hire sales training and continued advanced sales training.
Duties and Responsibilities:
1. Develop, manage, and execute all sales training programs under the direction of Director of Sales (50 percent).
2. Work with Director of Medical Education and Product Training Manager to incorporate clinical learning and best adult learning processes into sales training programs (5 percent).
3. Coach Territory Managers to maintain a high level of proficiency with selling skills and product knowledge through direct rides with Territory Managers and by developing improvement plans with Regional Managers (10 percent).
4. Coordinate field rides and competency checks with Field Sales Trainers (5 percent).
5. Conduct selling skill assessments in the field by working with Territory Managers identified by the Regional Manager and Director of Sales (10 percent).
6. Ensure corporate image is maintained and marketed professionally (5 percent).
7. Participate in scheduled sales management meetings and trade show events (5 percent).
8. Develop sales training programs during major trade shows and events as required (10 percent).
Qualifications: Must be a leader and be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
* Strong initiative and leadership skills.
* Demonstrated patience with teaching/coaching situations.
* Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
* Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
* Able to adapt quickly and react positively to business needs and changes in strategies.
* Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work successfully with a variety of people.
* Willingness to set and maintain high standards of performance.
Education/Experience: Bachelor's degree (BA) from a four-year college or university; a minimum four years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience as deemed appropriate by the Director of Sales. Either have or be willing to study adult learning processes to effectively develop training programs.
Language Ability: In English, must have ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations. Possess the ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals, as well as effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public. Must be comfortable speaking to large groups of people and have a demonstrated ability to teach both individuals and groups.
Math Ability: Ability to calculate figures and amounts, such as discounts, interest, commissions, proportions, percentages, area, circumference, and volume.
Reasoning Ability: Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.
Computer Skills: Microsoft: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Internet software, order processing, database software, contact management.
Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly exposed to outside weather conditions, and it is at his sole discretion on how adverse weather should be managed as it relates to the needs of the position.
Expected overnight travel requirement will be up to 50 percent, depending upon the time of year and strategic needs of the company.
Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
The employee is occasionally required to lift up to 50 pounds.
Get a Group Consensus on the Right Profile
The following is a sampling of questions you can share with those who know the position best. The answers received will help you create the best job description in terms of responsibilities and cultural fit.
Relationships and Roles
* Working relationships are the continuing contacts with whom the incumbent must interface to accomplish the duties of the position. List the major interactions the position has with others inside and outside the organization (clients, vendors, partners, press contacts, etc.) and briefly describe the purpose or result of these contacts.
* Does the position have supervisory responsibilities, internally or externally? If so, list the number and titles of the employees that report to this position.
* What is the purpose and objective of the position: Why does the position exist? Include primary accomplishments, challenges, and products and services related to the position (including who benefits from them and how).
Duties and Responsibilities
* In the order of importance, what are the essential job responsibilities—present and future—needed in order to achieve measurable results?
* What are the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual responsibilities?
* What is the estimated percentage of time spent on each responsibility?
* Describe the authority delegated to this position (including decision-making authority) and note its limits.
* What are the organization's weaknesses (what are the greatest needs)?
* What are the expected deliverables for the first six-to-twelve months?
* Describe the five most important deliverables.
* What are some examples of common and complex problems that this position will be called on to resolve?
* What kinds of issues are typically referred to this position's manager?
* What is the company's direction and how will it affect this position down the road?
* What are the minimum requirements necessary to qualify for this position (education, training, special abilities and skills, certifications, licenses, knowledge, experience)?
* What are the specialized/technical skills and knowledge required for this position— now and in the future? (Examples are hands-on industry knowledge, accounting knowledge, including the most current tax laws, P&L responsibilities, Web-based commerce systems, and sales techniques. These skills typically are learned and come from on-the-job work experience, training, and education.)
* What abilities are required above and beyond the learned or technical skills for this position—now and in the future? (These skills are innate strengths of your candidates. Examples include attention to detail, customer servicing, strategic thinking, relationship building, investigating, and analysis.)
* What characteristics are important to top performance in this position? (Examples: adaptability, analytical ability, assertiveness, detail oriented, collaboration, communication skills, conflict management, creativity, customer service, delegation, follow up, independence, initiative, integrity, interpersonal skills, leadership, listening, negotiation skills, persistence, planning and organizing, problem solving, risk taking, staff development, strategic planning, team building, time management, tolerance for stress, written communications.)
* What differentiates average performers from top performers in this position?
* Identify specialized skills that are essential to carry out the position's responsibilities and make them as specific as possible. Examples include:
– Interpersonal Skills: interviewing, hiring, coaching, directing, measuring and rewarding performance.
– Professional/Technical Skills: systems programming, financial analysis, accounting, legal.
– Managerial Skills: planning, organizing, reviewing, budgeting, directing, taking disciplinary action.
* Describe the company's culture and environment. What characteristics are must- haves for someone to excel and to be self-motivated in this type of environment? (Areas to focus on may include your company's mission and values, marketplace and competition, workflow pace, rules and regulations, communication methods, opportunities for socializing and risk taking, formal or informal setting, threshold for change, opportunities for collaboration and independent work, hands-on versus hands-off management styles.)
* Describe the attributes and motivators of the employees who have long tenure and consistent success in similar roles.
* What are the organizational strengths needed for top performance that the current department may be lacking?
* What are the greatest challenges and barriers of the job?
* What personality traits are important for success in this role? (Examples include being self-driven, having a positive outlook, being an empathetic communicator, and eagerness for new experiences and responsibilities.)
Other Physical, Environmental, Mental, and Special Requirements
* Are there working conditions associated with this position that should be noted (environment, hours, travel requirements, physical demands, etc.)?
* Describe any unusual or special working conditions.
* Is this position closely, moderately, or minimally supervised?
* Does this position have access to confidential information? Please explain.
* Does this position have access to company funds? Please explain.
* What is it about working for this company that is most appealing?
* What is the hiring manager's unique management style?
* What are the unique selling points for the open position and company that should be communicated to attract top talent?
* What additional information is relevant to the evaluation of this position?
Phrases for Writing Job Descriptions
Below are sample phrases for each part of the job description. Phrases have been provided for five popular job titles at different position levels: Sales Executive, Administrative Assistant, Chief Financial Officer, Database Administrator, and Product Manager.
Excerpted from Perfect Phrases for Perfect Hiring by Lori Davila. Copyright © 2007 by Lori Davila and Margot King. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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