Hiring Successfully...You Get What You Put Into The Process

  • Opportunities for growth, including plenty of training
  • Job Security
  • Pride in work, products, company
  • Openness/fairness, two-way communication that allows employees input to the decision making process, clearly stated policies, a formal grievance process
  • Corporate culture that promotes camaraderie, including reduced status distinctions
  • Competitive wages

Your company has many or all of these things going for it. Why is hiring top people still so difficult?

Unfortunately, a successful hiring process cannot be pushed into a back corner of business operations or completely outsourced. Regardless of whether your firm has the luxury of hiring the best search firm or employment agency to help you, the primary responsibilities are yours regarding the Job Description, Managing Applicant Expectations, Projecting a Positive Company Image, and Conducting Final Interviews Based on Competencies.


The Job Description

While a search firm or agency may handle the final drafting, it is up to you to provide all the content for a written job description. This should include an explanation of specific and measureable duties and responsibilities, reporting relationships, work environment, customer service expectations, physical demands, as well as experience and interpersonal skills required. If the initial screening is being outsourced, that agency should also receive a full briefing (ideally in writing) that communicates the positive aspects and the drawbacks of the position and facility, as well as the promotion and training opportunities, the company or department culture, salary, bonus, and benefits parameters.

The creation of a job description cannot be over emphasized, because it forms the foundation for any advertising, interviewing and reference checking to follow!


Managing Applicant Expectations

Whether you are receiving resumes via mail, or your website, or being referred candidates by a recruiting firm, it is important that the applicants have a clear understanding of your interview process and time frame; i.e. when they can expect to hear back from you regarding next steps. The most successful employers move people quickly through the steps. Using a thorough job description as a framework coupled with the applicant's abilities described in his/her resume, it is clear who should be interviewed face-to-face. More good candidates are lost to "foot-dragging" than almost any other cause. Those who are not a match should be quickly and respectfully informed. Unless their resume got no further than to a P.O. box from a "blind" ad, the treatment of every applicant ultimately has an impact on the company's reputation.


Projecting a Positive Image

You have talked with a potential candidate on the phone that you now cannot wait to meet, or you have received a glowing recommendation from an employment agency. It is time to invite applicants to your company. What will they see and hear when they arrive for an interview? What impression will they have upon meeting the receptonist or staff sent to greet them? How do you and your staff handle delays and changes in the interview schedule? If you have any questions or concerns regarding these matters, the time to resolve them is before potential new hires walk through the door.  

Finally, do you (or your staff, if appropriate) have training in conducting competency-based interviews? Especially after a recruiting firm has done a great job representing you and screening candidates, the results can be devastating if a potential hire finds your questions to be irrelevant, or worse, experiences that you do 80% of the talking in the meeting.


Using Competencies in Interviewing

Competencies are the combination of observable and measurable skills, knowledge, performance behaviors and personal attributes that contribute to enhanced employee performance. They arise from a good job description, and therefore should be used for interviewing.

For example, in a job where multi-tasking is a requirement, a candidate might be asked "have you ever been asked to work on several important projects at the same time? Describe how you set piroities in one or more specific instances. What was the result?"

Personal attributes can also be assessed using this type of interviewing. For example, "When your work has been criticized, how have you reacted? Under what circumstances have you felt comfortable with the criticism? Please five me a specific example."

Candidates who have been given a thorough job description will understand how these types of questions relate to the job for which they are being interviewed and tend to welcome the opportunity to reveal to you how they think and work.

Open-ended behavior-based questions also work well for reference-checking with former employers and colleagues.


Hiring Successfully involves courtesy, common sense, and often some time to learn new skills. Is the savings in recruiting time and money worth that investment to you?