In part 1, we looked at the pre-interview stage. In this part, we will take an introspective look at the interview stage. When we design the interview evaluation, we are hiring for the purposes of the business. There are a number of considerations to make.
What is Important to The Business (Headcount)?
In order to hire the right candidate, we must consider not only hiring what the hiring manager wants but also what the business needs. The reason is that when hiring manager makes a hire, the first thing he thinks of himself. For example, if a divisional head or department head is bended on empire building, then in the long run, the business is going to be saddled with increased recurring costs. This is where a top down manpower budget can help control manpower costs.
What It Means to Hire the Right Employee (Person)?
Aside from hiring someone who can do the job, when you hire the right person, as a human resource practitioner, you will have less people issues and more time to work on ways to improve the business. Some of the pluses include having nice people as colleagues; genuine team work where people collaborate instead of competing with each other; better retention, people who are already engaged because they enjoy the job and also enjoy the company of their colleagues.
If you hire the right manager, staff in the department is better supported. Employees tend to stay longer in the job when they have nice and competent bosses.
Be Aware of Your Own Blind Spots As A Recruiter
HR Practitioner often sits in the interview panel to provide valuable insight on the human aspect of the job. The ideal would be to hire a person to do something (a job) because it matters to them (they want to do it), not just because they are good or have the experience at doing it.
When people are not engaged with their jobs, they idle more; they fall sick more often; they dread meetings; they do not follow through; they are more careless (a safety and health hazard under certain situations) or they are less reliable. It is because their hearts is not there.
Of course, this is tougher to do for some industrial sectors than others; and for some jobs rather than others. In the case of jobs, most likely these will be the mundane or low level jobs although this is not totally true. Sometimes, the physical rigor or risks of the job (such as firemen, construction workers, oil rig workers, policeman) makes it harder to find job applicants that are passionate. Your duty as a HR practitioner is to ask.
The Human Resource Talent Dilemma
The current education system started in the industrial era. The greed for profits drove the commercial need for manpower. A factory system (the school system) was needed to turn out warm bodies hopefully with thinking minds to meet the manpower needs of industry.
When they enter the workplace, they are slotted into standardized jobs. This job system is a factory system. It emphasizes standardization and conformity. It does not recognize the human talents for what it is. This is evident by supervisors and managers casting aside the employee’s resume once they started on the job. It is also evident by some supervisors and managers treating their subordinates like servants rather tapping on their strengths through a better understanding of them through communication.
When you recruit, appreciate the need for diversity of individuals in the organization; and the value of a broad curriculum with regards to each candidate’s background.
Moderating Your Expectations
It is important to realize that when you are recruiting people, you are selecting what the market can provide you. If you are not getting the candidates that you want, you may need to expand your sources.
If you cannot hire the perfect candidate (perfect fit), you may have to take the next best candidate or re-look at your job pre-requisites or redistribute the work or automate or outsource that function.
The common situation in every company is first, they are afraid of hiring a poor performer or someone who will leave soon. Second, they want someone who has done the job already and can assume the position and be effective with no learning curve. Third, they hang on to hope when they cannot fill a difficult to fill position.
There is an intangible cost of leaving a vacancy open. This is more glaring if the position is a sales position as it will have a clear impact on the business revenue for the period when the vacancy is left open. David Hunt, a writer for Ask the Headhunter said “The cost of leaving a position unfilled can be significant, not only because work is left undone and schedules slip, but because other functions that depend on the empty position are affected, too. The question is, does it cost more to leave a job undone, or to hire a worker who needs a bit of a learning curve?
In his book ‘ Winning’ ,Jack Welch addressed the debate about hiring someone who can hit the ground running versus someone capable of growth. He’d choose the latter. Additionally, he acknowledges the risk of making imperfect hires and considers it preferable. After 30-plus years of hiring, he says he got it right only 80% of the time. Any hiring is risky and there are no guarantees. Ultimately, dithering and delaying in hiring produces ‘analysis paralysis.’ Hoping to avoid unavoidable risks, jobs are left unfilled, the employer’s needs are left unmet and customers are left unhappy.”
Ways to Minimize Recruiting Mistakes
Most people forget that the interview is the first time that they met the candidate. Like any first meeting, it is difficult to know someone during the first time.
The best way to minimize recruiting mistakes is to hire someone that you have worked with for a period of time or on numerous occasions.
This can be an intern, a former employee, a referral, a business associate (that you had worked under tough work situations), an suitable employee who had been rotated among the departments. Another avenue will be apprenticeship schemes and the likes.
There 3 commonly used types of interviews arrangements are one to one (face to face) interview, panel interview (without a chairman), sequential interview. Sequential interviews “are several interviews in turn with a different interviewer each time. Usually, each interviewer asks questions to test different sets of competencies.” Having more than 1 interviewer, each looking at different aspects of the candidate’s profile is an efficient method.
There are 3 types of metrics
• Indication of the suitable candidate pool available from the market
• Turnaround time for providing the first interviewee, interview, filling.
• Successful completion of probation
Options for Dealing with the Shortage of Candidates
The shortage of suitable candidates will have an impact on the quality of your interview outcome.
1 TO 4 JOB APPLICANTS : Is this a hard to fill job? Did your advertisement convey the role correctly? Did you advertise in the right places? Do you need to ask for referrals? Should you make call calls to approach potential candidates? Should you need to use the services of a head hunter?
5 TO 8 JOB APPLICANTS : Invite everyone for an interview. Do you need to conduct a second interview before making a decision? If you cannot find the candidate that you wanted, do you need to review your job advertisement or use other recruitment methods to attract more candidates?
BELOW EXPECTATIONS : Reject. Review reasons for low applications.
MEET EXPECTATIONS : Select for negotiation & make the offer.
EXCEED EXPECTATIONS : If it is position that is hard to find suitable candidates, select for negotiation & offer.
Options for Dealing with the Imperfect Fit
Below is the Chua’s 9 boxes (matrix) for assessing job applicants. It is used to deal with theimperfect fit. It is designed to be aligned with the 9 boxes model for assessing potential and take into account the use of a salary structure. The expectations are defined in terms of experience, training, persona.
HIGH POTENTIAL but BELOW EXPECTATIONS :
- Option 1: Offer a job at lower salary with appropriate training and development program. The salary can be adjusted if they meet the standard later.
- Option 2: Offer candidate for another vacancy
- Option 3: Offer candidate a fixed term contract
HIGH POTENTIAL and MEETS EXPECTATIONS : Offer a job. Possibility of early employment confirmation.
HIGH POTENTIAL and EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS: Expensive. Offer if no suitable candidates.
- Option 1: Control costs by offering fixed term contracts such as 1 or 2 year contract
- Option 2: Hire at a higher job grade. Close a junior position and redistribute work.
AVERAGE POTENTIAL but BELOW EXPECTATIONS: Bad hire (Reject)
AVERAGE POTENTIAL and MEET EXPECTATIONS: Offer a job. Think of outsourcing the function or internal deployment if cannot find someone at least at this level.
AVERAGE POTENTIAL and EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS: Expensive. Negotiate offer downwards if no suitable candidates. Offer a fixed term contract.
LOW POTENTIAL and BELOW EXPECTATIONS: Reject (Not in first short-listed)
LOW POTENTIAL and MEET EXPECTATIONS: Keep in view (reserve)
LOW POTENTIAL and EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS: Keep in view (reserve)
Hiring Philosophy and Hiring Strategy
You have to decide what is important to you and will work best for your business. It is important that you think through and know what you are looking for, otherwise either you will never find it or you will miss looking for it.
Other than competencies, skills and knowledge, we need to screen job applicants for their character traits, temperaments, strengths. As the later are intangible qualities, job applicants often only reveal their true characters and temperaments when they are on the job. It is the reason for requiring a 6 months probationary period.
Remember, the business is not only looking at achieving results but also business longevity. Examples of character traits that are important to supporting business results include innovative, business acumen and foresight. Examples of character traits that are important to business longevity include resilience, reliability, commitment, work ethics, and discipline.
As people are emotional creatures, temperaments not only have impact on work results, work relationships but also on the psychological well beings of others.
When we hire people with the right temperaments, we minimize the risks of growing a toxic workplace and a selfish culture. We create the opportunity for promoting mutual respect, workplace fairness and collaboration.
You will have a higher chance of success if you brief your interviewers on what to look for and what are the tell tales signs.
For the business owner(s), including shareholder(s) as well as for employees not in power, we want management that is owner-oriented, passionate, dedicated and honest. However, most of the time, the business will land up hiring people in key positions that are in for the position, status and money. It is more than often not about honor, honesty, making a difference nor obligations to the people they are supposed to lead.
Your Compensation Strategy
Human capital is both the company’s assets and also its business costs. Your compensation strategy affects both your ability to hire (affordability) and the bottom-line. Remember that business income is erratic whereas payroll cost is recurring. Even if the company is cash rich and earnings climb year after year, it does not that you
Top management staff is expensive who have a number of years of relevant experience in the same industry, especially from a competitor, can be expensive.
However, you may have hired people who talk all day rather than do the work. Can you substitute them with a better system and lower your overall costs? It is a possibility that they will not set up that system for you because they want to continue to receive the income or that they are not interested in doing so much work.
Your Desired Corporate Culture and Corporate Values
The point of hiring is the first point where you can manage the organization’s work culture and the working relationships. It is a lot harder to remove someone once they are already in the services of the company. This is especially the case if the person is from another department or a higher or similar ranking staff compared with you.
Of particular concern is the importance of hiring people in the top management that can work as a team rather than locked in a power struggle. This is the group with (positional authority) power, politics (turf) and control (resources).
Such staff is usually harder to manage because they bring in more their individual personalities into the job. You want to bring people who are themselves committed, respectful, less egoistic and possess less personal motives behind the pleasantries.
Tests and Portfolios
These refer to tests that you want the candidate to take without any prior preparations. Often they are skills based and include management skills such as strategies to deal with a given situation.
Candidates may be asked to bring and show their portfolios. Both of these usually scheduled for the day of the interview.
Interview Evaluation Form
The interview evaluation form should cover:
• What the interviewer can observe, listen and read.
• What sense the interviewer can make of what the job applicant wrote from what they said about themselves in the pre-interview forms.
• Tests the job applicant will do on site or the portfolio that he will bring to showcase his works.
What the interviewer can observe, listen and read would cover:
• Communication skills about his familiarity with key areas of the job
• Disposition (interpersonal chemistry) and glimpses of his character and temperaments.
The interviewer should record the job applicant’s answer to the free dialogue in the interview.
Other than pre-requisite knowledge and hard skills, the pre-interview form would cover the soft skills for the person to be able work independently; under supervision; in a team; with customers or vendors; or with top management.
These soft skills can be divided into:
• Self-organizing skills
• Team lead or member skills
An Example based on Chua’s 5 Assessment Areas
- Capabilities : Does he/she have the 5 key competencies /skills /knowledge to be successful in the role?
- Disposition : What is your first impression of him/her? Do you think your team would be able to work with him / her?
- Passions & Character : Is he / she passionate about his / her chosen vocation? Can you provide your gleams about his / her character, in particular his / her temperaments?
- Meeting Expectations : If there is any gap between him / her and your ideal candidate, is there anything that you can do to minimize or close the gap?
- Deliverables & Contributions : Is this an individual that you believe will contribute or make a positive difference to our business? Will he / she be able to meet his / her deliverables?
Scoring and Completion of Form
Any form of rating scales and scoring is unscientific and cumbersome. It is prone to interviewers either not scoring or editing the scores.
Remember that there is a diminishing return from an interview that is beyond 45 minutes; and that the interview can only give a glimpse of the applicant.
The pre-interview form will allow the interviewer more time to read through and gather his thoughts after the interview is over should the interviewer is interested in a specific candidate. There is always the possibility of making a call or meeting for a second time, for example over coffee or tea, with the candidates over some areas the interviewer thinks he is not clear or that he missed the first time.
Making the Decision
The person who makes the hiring decision has to make a decision about the role and the candidates.
Here is Chua’s DropsAH decision checklist.
D : Close the vacancy. Do not hire. Distribute parts of the job among current job holders.
D : Demote the job through redesign
R : Redesign the job contents.
R : Reject the job applicant.
R : Refer the job applicant to another department, for another vacancy.
O : Make an offer.
O : Outsource the vacancy.
P : Promote the job applicant into a larger role.
P : Promote the job through redesign
S : Schedule the job applicant for a second interview.
A : Abandon the vacancy.
H : Put the job applicant on hold for a possible job that will be created in the near future.
Different Types of Interview
Why Companies Aren’t Getting The Employees They Need
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