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Read an Excerpt
a Practical Guide to HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
By JEFF STINSON
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Jeff Stinson, SPHR, GPHR, CCP, GRP, CBP
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow to Hire Them
I was enjoying a perfectly lovely Monday morning when I received a phone call from a customer who was having a very bad day. One of his employees was going on a hunger strike over the way the organization treated its African American clients and did not intend to eat again until they were treated better. I'll admit, my initial thought was, Wait a month or so, and the problem will go away. This employee's complaint was without merit — my customer greatly respects everyone regardless of race, gender, national origin, etc. I'll go into it in more detail about this story in Chapter 6, but for now let's just say it cost a whole lot of money and time and confirmed once again in my mind the importance of making the right hire.
Most of us who have experience with hiring people understand that there is more to finding the right person than placing a newspaper ad (well, Internet these days), conducting an interview, making an offer, and hoping for the best. To hire successfully, you need to follow a process like this one:
1. Decide what skills the employee will need to be successful.
2. Write those skills down so you can refer to them later.
3. Recruit for the position in places where the right people hang out.
4. Test and/or interview candidates for the skills you need.
5. Make them an offer they can't refuse.
Let's look at these individually.
Decide What Skills the Employee Will Need to Be Successful
The technical name for this process is "job analysis." I have been amazed over the years by the number of leaders who have come to me and instructed me to find the "perfect" person with no idea what the perfect person looks like. So what do you need to know? Check out the following information form.
While this amount of information may look a little daunting, when finished, you have the information you need for the next step.
Write Those Skills Down So You Can Refer to Them Later
Again, as with most things, this has a technical name: "position profile." When finished, this will serve as a document you can use to recruit — or, if you prefer, turn over to someone else to recruit for you. Here is an example of a Position Profile for a senior administrative assistant.
Senior Administrative Assistant
Chief Executive Officer/President
Provides administrative support to the CEO/president, including telephone support, scheduling, and communication with other departments, divisions, and companies; travel arrangements; and presentation preparation. The senior administrative assistant will also support the Real Estate, Finance and Energy divisions.
Target salary of $45,000 + potential bonus to be determined.
Education and Experience:
Two years of college or equivalent, with a minimum of five years of experience supporting senior leadership. Excellent English, grammar, and oral/written communication skills are a must. Excellent PC skills are also required. Must be able to work in a hectic environment with constant priority changes and adjust to various personality types.
Duties and Responsibilities:
Ensures that all work is completed effectively; monitors the progress of work against schedules and budgets; maintains high performance standard; works effectively by using a highly collaborative style.
Meets customer needs by developing and maintaining effective relationships with both internal and external customers and by promoting a customer-service orientation within the organization.
Fosters relationships and a positive climate to build effective teams that are committed to organizational goals and initiatives; demonstrates flexibility in approach; is a team player.
Creates an atmosphere in which timely information flows smoothly both upward and downward through the organization; possesses exceptional communication skills.
Supports, manages, and initiates change within the organization, taking steps to remove barriers or to accelerate the pace.
Actively pursues learning and self-development to enhance personal, professional, and business growth; shares learning experiences.
Coordinates travel for the department; maintains appropriate records.
Purchases and maintains office materials within agreed limits.
Sorts and routes incoming and outgoing departmental mail.
Answers telephone and gives information to callers or routes call to appropriate person; places outgoing calls, such as conference calls, if requested.
Greets visitors, ascertains nature of business, and conducts visitors to the appropriate person.
Reviews and gains proper approval for expense reports before going to Accounting.
Issues check requests for department invoices (conference calls, rental cars, hotels, tradeshows, etc.).
Schedules conference calls.
Recruit for the Position in Places Where the Right People Hang Out
I have always believed that hiring people is both an art and a science. Recruiting, however, is pure art. Many people immediately place an ad on Monster, Craigslist, or a host of other Internet job boards, and then sit back and hope for the best. Unfortunately, job boards only account for about 40 percent of all positions hired. What is the number-one source? Referrals and networking! (Source: http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/networking/a/networking. htm.)
Now, I am not suggesting you ignore such sites as:
YAHOO! Hot Jobs
Rather, I am suggesting that you need to pull out your Rolodex ... oops, sorry, I dated myself, your Outlook contacts and start contacting people you know. For example, for the Position Profile above, I might call other CEOs, executives, and business associates, and let my Facebook and LinkedIn friends know what I'm looking for in a new hire. Keep at it, and I think you will be surprised by the results.
There are a number of other resources that can also be used to locate the right person. These include:
Professional trade associations
High schools, junior colleges, trade techs, and universities
Internet database searches
Each of these sources has specific advantages and disadvantages.
Test and Interview Candidates for the Skills You Need
Once your recruiting efforts have paid off, it is time to find out if this candidate is really "the one." There are a number of ways of doing this, including paper and pencil tests, psychological profiling, and a host of skill evaluations. While many of these are excellent tools I would caution you that the federal government developed rules in the late 1970s making these kinds of tests subject to validation requirements. A discussion of validation is beyond the scope of this book so if you are interested check out the requirements in the Uniform Employee Selection Guidelines on Selection published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1978.
Most of us skip all of this stuff and get right down to the interview. Interviews are more than a series of standardized questions. They need to be well planned out, with questions specifically developed to get an understanding of whether the candidate has the right skill set for the job and is a good fit for the company.
Next, the interviewer will need to be able to analyze the candidate's answers without bias and come up with an ultimate decision and/or recommendation to proceed with an offer to hire. When interviewing is done correctly, the employment interview is a powerful tool in hiring the right person. Here's a model of interviewing you might consider.
Establish Selection Criteria
When planning for an interview, it's important to consider the following pre-interview points:
1. Review the Position Profile you've prepared.
2. List some of the projects you expect the candidate to complete in the first six months. This allows you to ask questions to see if the candidate has completed such projects in the past.
3. Identify criteria on which the final selection will be made, based on the Position Profile.
4. Decide what personal attributes the candidate will need.
5. Identify the "gotta haves" and "nice to haves" that determine the right fit for this candidate. A "nice to have" is something that you would love to see the applicant possess but is not critical to their success, for example, "Coordinates travel for the department; maintains appropriate records." A "gotta have" is something that the applicant must have or they will fail. I would identify three to five such items so you can concentrate on these in the interview. For example, with our senior administrative assistant, these were our three "gotta haves":
a. Excellent English grammar and oral/written communication skills.
b. Ability to work in a hectic environment with constant priority changes and adjust to various personality types.
c. Skill at meeting customer needs by developing and maintaining effective relationships with both internal and external customers and by promoting a customer service orientation within the organization.
Remember, a candidate must possess all of the "gotta haves" to succeed on the job. Unlike baseball, one out of three does not put you in the Hall of Fame.
I would also strongly recommend using the behavioral interview approach. Anyone can identify whether candidates have the skills needed to perform the essential functions of the job by reviewing his or her resume and comparing it to the job description. In my experience, I've come to the understanding that many hiring managers don't have the time or the training needed to conduct a thorough behavior-based interview to assess whether the candidate is really qualified for the job. Behavioral interviews are key to the interview process because they are designed to have the applicant take you through a situation they've experienced in the past, describe it, and then analyze it. Focus on some of these key areas.
Blast from the Past
Dr. Paul Green, a noted industrial psychologist, suggests spending your time learning what the candidate has done in the past. Research has shown that the past is the best predictor of the future. This may not always be true, but it is a much better predictor than hypothetical questions concerning what the applicant might do. So you might ask a candidate for senior administrative assistant, "Tell me about a time when you were faced with a very hectic environment. How did you meet your supervisor's priorities?"
Clear and Present Danger
Have candidates discuss what they are currently working on and their current challenges and barriers. How about this one: "Tell me about a time when you needed to provide excellent customer service."
Back to the Future
It's important for you to spend time understanding the candidate's short-term and long-term goals. Discussing future goals and objectives and seeing how they align with the job you're offering can indicate whether they'll be fulfilled and challenged.
Before we move any further let's take a look at some basic dos and don'ts of interviewing. First, some dos:
1. Do give yourself a sufficient amount of time; you shouldn't rush the process.
2. Do create the right atmosphere. Remember to treat others as you would like them to treat you. I once had an interview with a company that shall remain nameless, and the interviewer was eating a sandwich throughout the interview. That might have been okay, but he didn't offer me any.
3. Do establish an easy and informal relationship. People open up more if they feel at ease.
4. Do cover the ground planned and don't allow the interviewee to take control.
5. Do aanalyze strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest.
6. Do ask open-ended questions. Simple yes and no questions don't really tell you much.
7. Do make judgments on the basis of fact, and try to eliminate the "gut feeling."
8. Do keep control over content and time.
And some don'ts:
1. Don't attempt too many interviews in a row. This can be a tiring experience, and the applicants will begin to run together and look alike.
2. Don't decide too quickly. Do you make the hiring decision in the first five minutes? Research from the Society of Human Resources Management shows that many people do.
3. Don't ask multiple or leading questions. One question at a time is less confusing for everyone. Avoid saying something like, "Tell me about a time when you had multiple tasks to complete, who gave you the assignment, when was it due, how did you get it done and what did the boss think?" Yikes! Who could remember all of this?
4. Don't pay too much attention to isolated areas. (More on this later.)
5. Don't allow candidates to gloss over important facts. Drill down if you need to, and don't accept stock answers. (More on this later.)
6. Don't talk too much or allow candidate to ramble on. Use the 80/20 rule: the candidate talks 80 percent of the time.
7. Don't allow prejudices/biases to influence the process.
Now it is time to conduct the actual interview. To me, interviewing is like anything else you do, and it is better if structured. I would suggest the following sequence; it assumes a sixty-minute interview, but can be adapted to any length.
The Opening (5 Minutes)
The purpose of the opening is to put the applicant at ease, explain the interview process, and answer any general questions. Remember, candidates who are comfortable will provide much more information than those who are not. General chitchat is fine, but be sure to tell the individual what to expect for the next fifty-five minutes.
Candidate Discussion (25 minutes)
This is an opportunity for candidates to provide their background in their own words and without interruption. Some of you may use the "tell me about yourself" technique, but I would suggest something a bit more structured, such as: "If you could, please take me back to high school and take twenty to thirty minutes to tell me about where you have worked, your school experience, and anything else you think I should know about you." Why high school? This is generally the beginning of adulthood and is a place in time that is generally the same for most people. It is a good spot for candidates to begin their journey. Your job is to sit back and listen. Here is where the 80/20 rule really pays off. What will you learn from this question?
Things that are important enough to the candidate to tell you about
Reasons for leaving jobs (if they don't tell you, be sure to make a note to ask later)
Things they did at their previous employment
Sequence of employment (does it match the resume?)
Detail orientation. Do they accomplish this discussion of their work history in five minutes? If so, how detailed do you think they are? It may or may not matter, because a detail orientation may or may not be a "gotta have." On the other hand, after ten minutes, are they still discussing their college experience?
Likes and dislikes about their college experience, jobs, bosses, co-workers etc.
There is quite a bit you have learned so far, now on to the next step.
Questions (20 Minutes)
In this section, ask the candidate the various "gotta have" and "nice to have" questions you have prepared. The nice thing about this sequence is that should you decide after this step that this is the wrong candidate, skip this step and move on to the discussion of the job. This is also the time to ask questions that were generated by the candidate's discussion. For example, did they tell you why they want to leave their current employment? If not, ask them! Was there something about their relationship with a previous boss that bothers you? If so, ask them! Was there an answer that didn't make sense? Clarify it!
The Job/Sale (5-10 Minutes)
Now is the time to decide if this is someone you are serious about hiring. If not, tell them a bit about the job and the company, describe what happens next, and move on. If you are interested, here is your opportunity to "sell" the job, the company, and everything associated with the opportunity. Remember, even in a difficult economy, excellent candidates always have options.
Remember, interviewing is really gathering evidence to make a rational decision. Here are some other hints.
Excerpted from a Practical Guide to HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT by JEFF STINSON Copyright © 2012 by Jeff Stinson, SPHR, GPHR, CCP, GRP, CBP. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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