Hiring new employees is one thing all companies have in common. Also common is the high number of decisions that go wrong – employees who disappoint the high hopes you had when you hired them.
The problem is that many interviewers are not really prepared for their interviews. Because they do not have a plan, they often are left with only their conversational skills, gut instinct and the candidate’s resume in front of them.
Let me give you a example. I had a client, whom I will call Ray, who was the owner of a small business of 15 employees. He was very busy with sales, operations, marketing, you name it. He also made all the hiring decisions. Sound familiar?
Now, Ray was very smart, and had good business instincts. He felt that he could “tell” when the right person came through the door for a job. He was also an excellent speaker, as most CEO’s are, and very confident in his decisions.
So Ray felt he was well prepared for interviews. His style was to grab the candidate’s resume off his desk, give it a quick read, then rush to the meeting room. Once there, he’d give the candidate a big hello, turn on the charm, ask where they went to school, and where they worked. If there were any similarities in their background, Ray felt good that there was a “connection.” Ray would talk about what he was looking for in a candidate, stand up, and let the candidate know he’d be in touch.
The results? For every four people hired for a position over the course of a year, three would quit or be fired, and one would “stick.”
What Goes Wrong
What is wrong with just asking questions from the resume? For one thing, you have given control of the process over to the candidate you are supposed to be evaluating. Resumes are as good at concealing as they are at revealing the candidate’s history. Worse, they tell us nothing about the person’s motivation, ability to overcome challenges, willingness to work in teams, and many other important factors that you should be evaluating.
Managers are also deceived by the seemingly easy skill of talking to the candidate. Many studies have shown that interviewers on the whole talk far more in interviews than they think they do. In fact, many interviewers talk about 80% of the total time in a given interview! Why? Lack of preparedness, cultural discomfort with silence and the candidate’s own feeling that the less they say, the better off they’ll be are all factors. The problem is that the more you talk, the less you’ll learn.
And what about gut instinct? All humans have the ability to make quick, subconscious decisions. It is a survival instinct. The problem is that your gut may not be the same as my gut. Further, what you subconsciously value may not be the same as what is needed for the job.
The solution is to have a prepared list of questions and an evaluation system that will focus on only on matching the candidate to the job and making the right choice.
At some level we all know this, but most business owners and managers stop there. Busy managers like Ray will protest, “It’s too time consuming! Even if I did this, what questions would I ask?”
Fair enough. It does take a bit of time to come up with an interview guide. But I have broken it down into three parts:
Part 1 cues the interviewer how to “break the ice” and start the interview.
Part 2 consists of 11 prepared questions with follow-ups so that you can really dig into what your candidate is bringing to the table. The questions are divided into two areas, skills and organizational fit.
Part 3 is a rating system that tells you whether you should continue the process or move on.
The advantages of this system are many.
- You will never again have to “wing it” in an interview.
- It is a system that you can train anyone in your organization to follow, even if you are not involved.
- It allows you to compare candidates against each other on specific areas that are important to you.
- It allows multiple interviewers to act off the same scorecard.
- It is completely customizable.
- It eliminates much of the guesswork and greatly reduces bad decisions.
See our Services page for more on how we can help you.