As high tech as today’s business world has become, the success or failure of any enterprise is still most fundamentally fueled by the human factor. Hiring the right or wrong employee can be a make-or-break decision.
On the downside, making the wrong decision can be costly, time consuming, and sometimes irreparable. On the upside, making the right decision can pay dividends in the form of productivity, innovation, and an overarching positive impact on the work environment as a whole.
Thus this no-brainer conclusion: It’s strategically smart to increase the odds of getting it right.
10 Tips to Consider
- Develop a detailed job description – Carefully delineate the duties, mandatory skill set, educational/licensure requirements, preferred previous experience, desired personality traits, and salary range associated with the job at hand. Then use this document to screen applicants.
- Don’t cut due-diligence corners – Never assume that every word on a resume is rooted in fact. Take the time to contact professional references, and verify previous employment as well as educational credentials. If pertinent to the position, a criminal background check also should be completed.
- Interview many candidates – As much as you might be taken with the first candidate who walks through the door, don’t make a decision until you’ve interviewed at least several prospects.
- Inject a dose of reality – Even if it’s just for a few minutes, expose applicants to an actual slice of the job. Carefully observe how they respond: Did they appear familiar with the task? Did they ask insightful or uninformed questions? What was their level of interest? Additionally, if deemed appropriate, have candidates complete a basic-skills test that mirrors needed job skills.
- Compare expectations – Share with interviewees what would be expected of them in terms of performance, productivity, and attitude. Then turn the tables – ask them what they expect from an employer.
- Use the 80/20 rule – Meaning, the interviewer should spend 20% of the time talking or asking questions, with the remaining 80% devoted to truly listening to the interviewee and allowing him or her to shape the conversation.
- Reverse roles – Toward the end of the interview, encourage the potential employee to interview you. The questions posed by the candidate can be quite telling.
- Keep culture in mind – While an applicant obviously must possess the skills required for the position, corporate culture also comes into play. Meaning, every company has a characteristic culture, and prospects whose personalities parallel that culture are likely to be the best fit.
- Get social – Considering the pervasiveness of social media, it makes sense to peruse a potential employee’s digital footprint, particularly their presence on LinkedIn, given that it’s a professional platform. While it’s not advised to tabulate Facebook friends or Twitter followers, a social-media portrait can point to personality traits that might not otherwise bubble to the surface.
- Pose a central question – Not to the interviewee, but to yourself. Specifically, ask: How would I feel about this person working for the competition? If you’d be happy to send this candidate the competitions’ way, he or she is out of the running. However, if the thought of this candidate joining the competition makes you cringe, then he or she is a keeper.