Hire For What People Can Do, Not What They Have Done

Candidates’ Past Successes May Not Transfer To A New Environment.

By Steve Schumacher

Over my career, I have helped many hiring managers transition from horrible to highly effective hiring techniques. I have seen far too many hiring managers make a long-term investment in a new employee with a seat-of-the-pants interviewing process. 

Considering how much organizations spend on recruiters, advertising open positions, interviewing time, negotiation, and career earnings, a haphazard process is not a wise thing to do. As a leader, you should always be taking a look at your various processes for modifications and improvements. Interviewing and hiring processes should be evaluated regularly, and not left to each hiring manager’s various personal methods. 

The current hiring environment calls for a great deal of flexibility on the parts of hiring managers. In the current sellers’ market, organizations are on the verge of desperation to fill open positions. That desperation should not cause you to settle for someone who you know will not meet expectations but will fill the headcount numbers.

A few thoughts to help you ensure that your interviewing time and energy gets you a new hire that not only CAN do the job but is motivated to do so.

Tighten up your job description. Many times, the only time job descriptions see the light of day is when the job needs to be filled. If yours have been collecting dust, take them out and work hard to make sure they reflect the skills and abilities necessary today for an employee to be successful. 

This is the first impression candidates will have of your organization and the specific job. Write them in a behavioral fashion so it increases the odds that hiring managers will agree on what success in this job looks like. Run it by employees who have done, or are currently doing, the job. Ask them for feedback and whether or not the job description reflects reality.

Build questions. Once all hiring managers agree on the job descriptions, it is time to write questions that will be used in interviews. Having a standard set of questions for each position in your organization will reduce subjectivity in the hiring process and reduce pressure on managers to come up with their own questions. 

Use the job description to formulate the questions to provide that linkage between candidates’ responses and the job itself. Do not let managers go outside of the script, when asking questions in interviews.

Connect past behavior with future behavior. Your goal, in interviewing, is to increase the odds that a new hire will work out and be a success on the job. Let the candidates know, in advance, that they will be asked to verbalize how their past experiences will translate into success on your job. Their ability to do this will tell you a lot about the future for this candidate. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In your questioning, ask each candidate to give examples of how they have accomplished what you are looking for, in the past. Then, it needs to be determined whether that past experience will carry over to the new job, if they are hired.

Focus on the future skill set. Oftentimes, hiring managers get caught up in a candidate’s resume and all the blue-ribbon items on it. We all know that a resume is only going to show the positives in the candidate’s past. The missteps, flaws and mistakes of the past will not show up on paper. It is up to the hiring manager to ferret those out. There are a lot of dynamics that occur between the writing of a resume and stepping into a new position. There is a saying – what got you to this point may not get you to the next level. 

Behavioral vs. Hypothetical questions. Most hiring managers that I have met tend to ask way too many hypothetical questions in an interview. Example – what would you do if you saw a fellow employee acting safely? Of course, the candidate will give you what you want to hear because they want the job. That answer may or may not be what happens if the person is hired. 

Do your best to ask questions about how the candidate has responded to situations in the past, what they have learned, and how they would apply that learning to the new position, if hired.

This current sellers’ market in recruiting and selection will change back at some point. Getting a job will become more competitive at some point. It is up to you, as a leader, to ensure that your hiring process is the best it can be.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at [email protected].

Related posts