staff hiringFrom behavioral interviewing techniques to psychometric testing, managers have access to a range of tools to make the staff hiring process foolproof and reduce the possibility of the wrong hire. The reality is that no process can make the hiring completely foolproof. But it is possible to make the process almost foolproof by using a tried and tested approach to effective hiring…

When I first started hiring staff for my company, I made the mistake of recruiting based on gut feel and liking a person. This resulted in some disastrous hires as the candidates turned out to be very different from what they seemed to be during the interview process.On the other hand, some hires who were not obvious choices at the time have turned out to be stars in the company.

So is there a formula, a definite approach or a process that can help to identify and predict to a reasonable degree of accuracy who is a good fit and who is not going to work out? The answer is yes there is a process and no, you do not need a sophisticated psychometric test for this.

The recommended process has 4 steps:

Step 1 – Clear Set of Hiring Criteria

Knowing the 3 or 4 key criteria that a candidate has to conform to in order to be a good fit for the job in question is vital. These criteria can be a mix related to skills, experience, personality, attitude, circumstances, etc. An example of this for a sales job might be:

-previous sales experience (at least 2 years)
-excellent interpersonal skills
-ability to work late if needed and to travel nationally
-willingness to work with a quota and commission scheme

Step 2 – Effective Interview

The interview process must be well-thought out, with a clear focus on the criteria mentioned above and if possible some form of scoring/weighting system. The interview process must include a panel to ensure the assessment is averaged across various interviewers. Nothing is more arbitrary than a sole interviewer making the decision on who goes through and who doesn’t.

A second important consideration in the interview process is to ask behavioral questions. An example of this is the question:

You mention you have strong interpersonal skills. Can you provide an example from your last job of an interaction where your interpersonal skills came into play?

The idea of behavioral questions is to ensure you do not take the candidate’s claims in the CV or application at face value. You actually test these claims by asking the candidate to explain and then using the response as one indicator of potential, future behavior.

Step 3 – Shortlisting and Testing

It is possible that more than one candidate passes the interview phase. It is usually a good idea to give the shortlisted candidates an opportunity to differentiate themselves via some kind of role play, a test or a simulation. This could be perhaps a written test, a mini-presentation or a team game. You can tell a lot about a candidate from this kind of testing or role play or simulation that an interview would never bring out.

Step 4 – Probation/Observation Period

This may not be possible in every case but wherever possible, having a brief (2-3 months) probation/observation period provides the real litmus test. I don’t care how rigorous the initial selection process is – nothing can replace actual observation. When you have observed a candidate at work for about 2-3 months, you don’t need to guess – you KNOW – if the candidate is a good fit for your organization or not.

Many costly hiring mistakes can be avoided by implementing as standard an observation/probation period. You give the candidate all the attention and the guidance needed to succeed during this time but if this does not work, then it is time to say sayonara.