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• Hiring & Recruiting     • Performance Management
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"Keeping You Best Employees Over the Long Term Starts with Effective Hiring"

Good employees are hard to find and harder to keep. Today's market for good employees is more competitive than it has ever been. You struggle to find them, you train them to support your business and then they leave, taking their new skills and your training dollars with them. Then, you start again.

So, how do you find the right employees for your business and keep them from leaving to work for a competitor? It starts with effective recruiting:

  • Looking in the right places
  • Learning about applicant's past performance on the job
  • Understanding how they will fit into your jobs and work teams

The questions asked during and following interviews, and learning to interpret the answers, are key to selecting employees that "fit" your business. If you pick employees who "fit", chances are they will stay longer, much longer. They will also be more productive and easier to work with.

The following article discusses one important part of the recruiting process, the interview. Interviews are the most used and most misused recruiting tool available. Done well using competency based behavioural interviewing techniques, the interview will provide a wealth of information on which you can make an informed decision about any candidate.

HR Tip #1: Recruitment & Retention

The Hiring Interview

Interviews are just one part of a complete hiring process, but they are an important tool used by most companies to select new employees. Understanding how to prepare for and conduct an effective interview is a critical skill needed by any hiring manager. A casual conversation followed by a “gut feel” decision on the suitability of the candidate, will rarely result in selecting the best candidate.

The first requirement in conducting an effective interview is to clearly understand the competencies and qualifications needed to do the job at a superior level. (A competency is a skill or behaviour that describes expected performance in a particular work situation.) Resist the urge to simply replace "in-kind" the employee who has just left the position. Consider:

  • How has the job changed?
  • What are the skills of the rest of the work team?
  • How should the new employee’s skills support the combined skill set of the whole team?

When the competencies are clearly understood, identify the selection criteria you will use to make your hiring decision. The selection criteria will be a combination of competencies and other job requirements such as technical skills, experience and education. The selection criteria may include communication skills, previous experience in a similar position, ability to learn, leadership skills, relationship building, bias to action, computer literacy. There are many possible competencies to choose from and they will often overlap different jobs.

The most effective way to interview is with a team of at least two, preferably three or four interviewers.  Select your interview team to represent those who have a stake in the hiring decision. The purpose of multiple interviewers is not to put additional stress on the candidate, but to ensure that the skills, knowledge and insights of more than one interviewer are used to make the best hiring decision. Two (or three, or four) heads are still better than one.

Next, develop the interview questions. An effective interview process must allow you to compare candidates to each other. Therefore, the core questions you ask each candidate should be the same or essentially similar in order to make this comparison. That isn’t to say that you ignore candidate’s different backgrounds: there is always a place for questions and discussion specifically related to individual candidates.

Competency based behavioural questions are designed to understand how the candidate dealt with actual situations in the past. They are based on understanding that “The best predictor of future performance and behaviour is actual past performance and behaviour in a similar situation.”

Behavioural questions will usually start with phrases such as “Tell us about a time when …” or “Give us an actual example of …” The questions are designed to draw from the candidate their development level in one or more of the competencies you have included in the selection criteria. The interviewers should be prepared with follow up questions that drill down to the details of the candidates actual behaviours. These questions can be difficult to answer at first. You will likely have to steer candidates back to describing “actual” rather than “theoretical” situations.

It may seem a small thing to some hiring managers, and in a hectic day it is easy to overlook, but when, how and where an interview is held will make a big impression on the candidate. Therefore:

  • Review the resume and other background information in advance
  • Start the interview on time
  • Turn off cell phones and pagers
  • Hold the interview in a quiet and private location. Close the interview room door
  • Clear the desk or table of clutter and other distractions
  • Offer the candidate water, coffee or some other refreshment
  • Conduct the interview in a relaxed but professional manner. The more comfortable you can make the candidate, the more they will open up to you in the interview

Remember that the best candidates for your company will likely be interviewing with other companies as well. The impression you make during the interview may be the deciding factor in their choice of job offer.

Immediately following the interview, rate the candidate against the selection criteria. There are two parts to this step. First, each interviewer should score the candidate on their own. Next, work with the rest of the interview team to agree on a score for each of the selection criteria. This process will ensure that no one interviewer excessively influences the scoring decisions. Work from a common set of scoring definitions. Be sure to justify very high and very low scores. Often the selection criteria will be weighted to reflect their importance to the job.

The last steps in the selection process may involve testing, second and third interviews, reference checking and other processes required by particular businesses. These steps are also important parts of a thorough and professional recruiting process.

Contact Cruise HR Solutions for free Implementaion Tips on Recruitment and Retention.

Copyright Brian G. Cruise 2007. All rights reserved.

"HR Training Programs and HR Consulting Services"
Human Resources Consultants based in Campbell River, BC. Serving Vancouver Island, North and Central British Columbia.