by Richard A. Koerner – President, RA Koerner &Company
The following article was originally published in the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce January 2007 publication of "The Voice."
What did you experience the last time you attempted to fill a key opening in your organization? Were you pleased with the applicant response or hiring results? Perhaps you are in the growing group of owners, managers or board members who struggle to find even a partially qualified applicant.
Hiring the right person is one of the most vital management functions. If there are many applicants, there is a tendency to become overconfident and careless. Whereas, if there are few candidates or the process drags on, managers can become desperate and hire a “body” to fill a need.
A thorough and structured process can help organizations and boards find and select the right people for their critical staffing needs. Perhaps, one of the most effective approaches is one that is behavioral-based, which relies on actual past behaviors, actions and results to assess candidates’ skills, motivation and organizational fit. Many who have used such a hiring process say it is the most thorough and objective approach to interviewing and selection they have ever experienced. Job applicants have also voiced positive feedback.
When hiring, you are trying to maximize the likelihood of a successful match. There are three very important areas that must be explored when interviewing and assessing whether a person is qualified to perform a particular job or role:
- Can Do - the knowledge, competencies or skills required of the position, such as leadership/management skills, network administration, or sales skills.
- Will Do - the motivation to do the job. Does the candidate want to do the job?
- Cultural/Organizational Fit – does the candidate share or support the same values, mission and expectations of the organization? In other words, does he/she fit?
First, identify all the requirements of the job, or behavioral factors that are important for success in this position or role. Most organizations use a position or job description. Secondly, list all position specific activities and skills required to be successful. Ensure that the job description is current and that it includes all essential information. Some things might not be listed in a job description, such as, “adaptability in a rapidly changing industry,” or, “ability and emotional intelligence to work for a tough boss.” These dimensions should not be ignored. Additionally, you will want to gauge motivation. What prompts the applicant to consider a change? Does the person really like this type of work? Is the person between jobs and simply looking for something that will tide him over until a better opportunity comes along? Lastly, you will evaluate whether the candidate fits in with your organization’s values and mission. By all means, give due consideration to all internal applicants. Companies can erode morale by not seriously considering the successes, capabilities and possibilities of current employees. And, be open to the benefits of a diverse workplace.
To effectively determine a candidate’s qualifications, motivation and fit, a manager or hiring team must identify and verify the candidate’s experiences. Develop interview questions that are behavioral-based. Seek actual experiences from the candidate. What was the situation? What action(s) did the candidate take – independently or as a member of a team? What were the results? Consider the usefulness of transferable skills. It is not enough to base critical hiring decisions solely on what the candidate says he/she “always” does, or what one thinks should be done. With probing, open-ended questions, you will likely discover that always doesn’t always mean always.
This approach takes more time, but it can generally increase your hiring success by as much as 100% or more.