Improve Hiring Effectiveness

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It's not always 'resume' qualities that make the best employees.

Finding the right employee makes a dramatic difference to productivity, company morale and long-term business success. This rings especially true as the hot economy continues to fuel strong opportunities in nearly every market.

But often, you're looking for qualities that don't show up on a resume. And in a rush to fill positions, managers can rely too much on hiring people for "what they know" only to fire them later for "who they are."

Don't let this happen at your company. Discipline yourself and your managers to hire more effectively, even under current pressures, by keeping these five core components in mind:

  1. Personality Picture. Managers often forget to define specific personality traits that aren't just desirable but that the position demands. For instance, an outgoing personality may always be welcome to some managers, but it's more of a necessity for sales and customer-service positions rather than for inside office jobs. Similarly, some jobs require an eye for detail and precision, while people who focus on that in other positions may be less efficient.

    Once key traits have been identified, open-ended questions should be created to allow the interviewer to identify candidates with the best personality type for the job. Remove subjectivity from the hiring process, and key in on the required attributes.

  2. Position Specification. This is a document that describes the job's primary activities, the company's history with the position, and both "required" and "desired" education and experience. Specific compensation and benefit parameters (such as bonuses or incentives) should be included as well. Chemistry factors that impact the position also should be considered and written down. Basically, these components comprise the company's corporate culture, growth stage of the company, team personality and recent events impacting the position.

    Managers often make the mistake of hiring people for "what they know" and firing them for "who they are." This part of the process helps identify what type of person will best fit your organization, and it should be used to develop questions, along with key words and answers the interviewer most wants to hear.

  3. Patience. One of the most critical mistakes in hiring is wishful thinking. Too often, managers hire the best candidate from the immediate field, regardless of whether that person really fits the needed profile. This can be an expensive decision. The wrong employee can cost the company sales and customers that cannot be recovered, as well as damage company morale and lower productivity. Although it's difficult to keep looking, the long-term gains far outweigh the short-term benefits.
  4. Persistence. This may be the most important ingredient for a good hiring decision. To build a company with the best and brightest employees, managers shouldn't recruit and hire people in their spare time. They have to block out significant time and devote themselves to the process. You simply can't spend too much time or money on the selection process. Most of us live with hiring mistakes longer than we should. Staying aware of strong candidates for various jobs among employees and others you meet at other companies will prepare you to go out and find the best candidate, not wait for them to come to you.
  5. Perception. Follow your instincts. This is hard to develop, but it can make a huge difference in your success. Bad "gut feelings" often turn out to be good warning signs. However, hiring shouldn't be based solely on a hunch. Rather, use systematic methods to determine why those feelings arise.

Writer: Craig A. Shutt interviewed Bill Lee, president of Lee Resources, a sales and training consultancy based in Greenville, S.C.

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