I’m away on vacation. I’ll be back with original articles after Christmas.
Loyal readers may be familiar with my Job Search Journey series. While I saw much of the job search process from the point of view of the searcher, I was also on the interview panel several times, as my company searched for even newer employees.
You’ve all searched for a job at some point, and you know how difficult and stressful it can be. What you might not realize is that it’s a difficult and stressful process for the employer as well. Quite often, they are looking to hire someone because someone has left the team. That means the remaining members are taking on extra work until the position can be filled. The company wants to fill the position quickly, but doesn’t want to rush into hiring someone, either. Hiring the wrong person can cause lasting problems.
So, what can you do to increase your chances of hiring the right person? Here are a few tips.
Don’t search for a unicorn
Let’s say that there are three skills that are critical for the role you’re looking to fill, and seven other skills that would be a nice bonus. If your job posting has something along the lines of “the ideal candidate will…” and then list all ten skills, you will invariably scare off some candidates. A candidate might be a rock star at the three critical skills, but have zero experience in two of the bonus skills. You don’t want to exclude that candidate from your pool.
Instead, list those three critical skills as the required skills and the other seven as additional skills.
Make the candidate comfortable
Interviews are incredibly stressful for the candidate. In many cases, you end up finding out how well the candidate can navigate an interview process rather than how well they can actually do the job.
Do what you can to make the interview painless for the employee. If you’re setting up an on-site interview, make sure the candidate knows where the location is, and offer directions if they aren’t sure, so that they aren’t reliant on the whims of their GPS unit. Make sure they have the phone number of someone they can contact if they get lost or stuck in traffic. When they arrive, ask if they would like to use the restroom. (The nervousness always make me need to urinate. I’d always make sure to stop at a gas station close to my final destination).
During the interview process, don’t try to “catch” the candidate with “gotcha” questions. If you get an answer that doesn’t seem to be correct, ask it in a different way, to make sure the wording didn’t confuse the candidate. If there are multiple people on the interview panel, engaging in some light banter may make the candidate more at ease. Even a smile can help. The overall goal of the interview process is to be conversational, rather than adversarial.
Communicate timelines clearly and honestly
As a candidate, nothing is worse than being told you’ll be contacted in three days and not hearing anything for weeks. Be transparent with the candidate about the timing of the process. If you run into an unforeseen delay, shoot them an email and let them know it might be another few days.
Never “ghost” a candidate. When I interview with a company and don’t hear a peep out of them, I make note of it. When I’m talking with friends about job searches, I’ll mention certain companies that aren’t good at communicating. If your company has a habit of doing this, you can be certain that this is public knowledge among job seekers. You could have some rock star candidates who don’t bother to apply because of your company’s reputation. If you’ve decided not to hire a candidate, let them know. Even a simply email is acceptable.
Don’t go overboard with negotiations
You definitely want to hire the candidate at a salary your company can afford – but don’t go overboard when you’re negotiating. If the candidate is looking for $100,000 and you only want to give $99,000, don’t draw a line in the sand. You’re better off paying the ideal candidate $100,000 than paying a meh candidate $95,000. Good employees create substantial surplus value for your organization.
Support the new employee
When the new employee starts, help them get up to speed. If your organization doesn’t have a formal orientation program (or even if it does), have them shadow another employee to help them get an understanding for how your organization functions. They’ll certainly have some questions (and the other employee’s productivity will dip as they take time to assist the new employee), but think of it as a long term investment in the employee.
Lazy Man’s Thoughts
I was on the hiring manager a couple of times in my life. Both times I was 24 years old with just a couple of years or real job experience. These were the kinds of wacky things that happened during the dot-com expansion of 1999.
One thing I learned in recent years is what Kosmo mentioned here. Interviews generally tell you more about their ability to interview and communicate, which might not necessarily be the most important skills.
Similarly, the headmaster at my child’s school said that standardized tests often reflect the student’s experience in preparing for them. Some students pay a lot of money for prep classes and my understanding is that they produce very good results. Families who may not be afford such services appear to be at a disadvantage.
Get back to the actual process, there’s one thing that stood out from when I was a hiring manager. We were strongly encouraged to conduct our interviews in a neutral location rather than behind a desk in your office.