When John applied for a job at Oakland Company, his resume looked fabulous, showing tremendous talent and advancement. His qualifications were beyond question and he built immediate rapport with everyone in the interview process. Every one of his references checked out. Six months later, you were wondering why you hired this clown.
Today's hiring professionals seem to prefer recruiting candidates from the ranks of the employed. It is a logical approach assuming others have recognized their talent and retained them while untalented people were sent to the unemployment line by their frustrated past employer.
The reality being overlooked in this scenario is that most employers fail to deal effectively with underperformers. The secret in effective recruiting today is to understand the twelve mistakes commonly made by hiring professionals and recruitment teams. This article will look at those twelve mistakes and offer ways for hiring professionals to avoid making the same errors. The payoff of avoiding these errors is the ability to shift the time currently spent on recruiting toward other aspects of running the business or developing other facets of human resources.
Mistake #12 - Failure to understand who makes up the "recruiting team"
Most hiring professionals designate a "recruiting team", including such people as the position's supervisor, managers they may interact with, human resources, and even the leader of the company. To fix this problem, best practices dictate that all employees the candidate will meet are part of the "recruiting team". The candidate will talk with the receptionist at the front desk, administrative assistants, and escorts from one location to another. Each of these individuals should have a "30-second" commercial to provide the candidate with consistent view of the work experience at the organization.
Mistake #11 - Hiding the interview process
The interview process can be long and agonizing for the prospective candidate. This is particularly true when they are in a state of unemployment. One of the candidate's first frustrations with a new employer is how the employer handles the interview process. The length of the process can be interpreted by the candidate and their family as the inability for the employer to make a decision. By informing the candidate of the full process, including who is involved in the decision, the candidate will see the timetable as planned and be comfortable with the process. For the successful candidate, this is a positive perception that the management team that will be an asset as they develop in their new career.
Mistake #10 - Not going beyond references
Any qualified candidate knows they will have to have references. They are instructed by those who groom them as a candidate to prescreen the references and even to give them some insight as to what to emphasize when they get a call from a particular employer. Surprisingly, many hiring professionals actually use these references thinking they can somehow "trick" the references into providing some sort of clue to the real person. Although this may happen on rare instances, the likelihood of discovering something negative about a candidate makes this a huge waste of a recruiter's time.
Some hiring professionals have developed procedures in recent years that are producing good results when it comes to getting an insight to the candidate's character and work ethics using referrals. These best practices include contacting former co-workers and supervisors using very creative, legal means. A simple phone call can easily reveal an individual's absenteeism, attitude, and view of teamwork provided the right questions are asked in the proper way. Be creative and be sure to contact a sampling of people to ensure one person does not taint your results. Another successful technique is asking references for other references. These individuals will not necessarily be pre-screened by the applicant.
Mistake #9 - Not looking for someone better than yourself
This is a very common mistake by supervisors. Many supervisors feel hiring someone more talented than they are will place their job in jeopardy. Ronald Reagan summed it up when he said, "Leaders are not judged by what they do, leaders are judged by what their people do." The supervisor that understands leadership knows that their organization will only grow and prosper when they increase the total organizational talent - a process requiring the hiring of the most talented people available. The practice pays a dividend to the supervisor as they receive credit for a more productive organization while they learn from their employees.
Mistake #8 - Hesitation to share the job description
People know their strengths and limitations better than the interviewer can determine based on a resume or interview. By presenting a candidate with an accurate and complete job description during the interview process, the candidate will have the opportunity to determine how challenging the job will eventually be. There is no guarantee they will back away from a job if they see they are under qualified, but their demeanor and reactions will be heavily influenced by their comfort level based on their perception of their talent aligned with the job description.
Mistake #7 - Ignoring leadership clues
The most successful hiring professionals understand leadership ability is enhanced through community involvement. John Rizzo of Michigan Glass Coatings of Auburn Hills, Michigan, encourages his employees to belong to groups such as the Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis. Not only does it help his company give back to the community, his people are learning valuable leadership skills. Volunteer organizations from soup kitchens to Little League to service clubs to church and school organizations only progress when the volunteers demonstrate the ability to get things done with limited human and financial resources. These skills translate directly into the workplace as employees use the skills they learn in the volunteer sector to do a better job. The benefits are not just for small and mid-sized businesses. General Mills has committed part of their human resources department to helping employees find the right volunteer activity based on their personal interests. They have more than 70% of their employees serving the community while they learn improved leadership skills.
Mistake #6 - Assuming the resume is accurate
Employees tend to forget about criminal records, past credit problems, and other legal issues. Many also overestimate their educational backgrounds. A survey by Time Magazine found that more than one million of 2.6 million applications reviewed contained lies. Security Management reports that the average negligent hiring verdict is $870,390. Simple background checks are available that will reveal civil, criminal, driving, credit, and educational checks. Yet many hiring professionals fail to use them. The reason lies in the complexity of the checks. Legal records are kept by individual jurisdictions so the recruiter must use creativity to determine where to invest based on the individual candidate. Miss the right jurisdiction and you could hire a convicted rapist or thief, bearing huge financial loses should this error result in a workplace incident. Background checks and pre-employment assessments are effective tools for discovering one's use of drugs or propensity to steal. The Federal Chamber of Commerce has identified employee theft as the number one reason for business failure, accounting for a full third of all bankruptcies.
One last word on background checks, do not assume that if you do not do them at all that you will be exempt from prosecution, the courts are clear that employers have the responsibility to do whatever is at their disposal to create a safe and healthy work environment.
Mistake #5 - Thinking diversity is a black and white issue
There is much talk about the need for diversity in the workplace. Certainly the more diverse an organization, the better it is equipped to face the challenges of the marketplace. However, many hiring professionals take the view that diversity is limited to religion or gender. Actually there are more than thirty different criteria important to creating the best working environment for teamwork, creativity, harmony, productivity, and cohesiveness. These include age, affluence, geography, union affiliation, experience, habits, and much more. When an organization recognizes and hires based on all the elements of diversity, they increase their effectiveness and competitiveness.
Mistake #4 - Ignoring corporate culture
Although every organization has a culture that is distinct and unique, most cultures can be described as either traditional or contemporary. In a traditional environment, workers are managed with tight controls while contemporary organizations place more emphasis on employees making decisions at the lowest levels possible. One requires workers that appreciate controls and direction while the other finds initiative and self-starting to be critical. Most, if not all, employees will thrive in one of these cultures and quickly fail in the other. Hiring professionals have many resources available to them to determine the "fit" of a candidate to their culture. Specifically targeted questions can help an interviewer determine fit to a degree, but only scientifically validated assessments with a high co-efficiency factor can fully ascertain "fit".
Mistake #3 - Thinking their interview process works
Many hiring professionals feel they have spent enough time and energy in honing the skills of those involved in the interviewing process to be sure that no bad decisions will be made. Yet statistics show that 63% of all hiring decisions are made during the first 4.3 minutes of the interview and 67% of those new hires will prove to be mistakes within one year.
Although interviewing can determine the technical skills and experience of an applicant, no interviewer can see the "whole person". The essence of the applicant, which accounts for a full 90% of the total person, cannot be detected by even the best of interviewers. These key aspects of the applicant include the job fit, occupational interests, behavioral traits, and thinking style - all essential in determining if the individual will fit the culture and management style in which the new hire will work.
Mistake #2 - Thinking the new person will be better than the last
A common misconception held by many managers is the belief that replacing a below-par employee will somehow produce a better employee. The theory is flawed because the problem with the problem employee is not usually the employee. Think about a time when a problem employee was terminated. The general thought was the new person would be better. Six months later the manager is back requesting the dismissal of this new employee. In working with thousands of employees over my thirty plus year career, I have found that virtually all problem employees are the product of a particular situation, company culture, or the manager's style. The problem employee is actually a symptom of this problem. Unless the problem is addressed, the replacement will eventually become another problem employee.
Mistake #1 - Focusing retention programs only on existing employees.
Employee retention programs are typically designed for existing employees. Employers with the highest retention programs are those that see employee retention as a process that begins in the early stages of a job search.
Even the best sales organizations miss this one. They know the importance of the first impression to a business prospect, but they forget the importance of the first impression they make on a candidate.
Many high-retention employers begin to "sell" themselves as an outstanding employer and a great place at which to work in their job posting. In doing so, they are creating an atmosphere where employees buy into the concept that they have made an excellent career choice from their first contact with a company. These companies confirm the early impression with special recruitment packets, clearly identified interviewing processes, and special recognition to the strongest candidates. In short, they mimic the methods used by high performance sales professionals to woo and retain customers.
Avoiding these common mistakes
This article has identified twelve of the leading mistakes made in the recruiting process. Each of the twelve is easy to avoid using the best practices mentioned in this article. When used effectively, a recruiter begins to hire longer-term employees that "fit" into their organization. As Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great, an employer must, "get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus, and get the right people in the right seats."
For more information, contact Rick Weaver of MaxImpact at 248-802-6138 or send an email to email@example.com.
Rick Weaver is President of Max Impact, a national leadership and organization development company based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Rick is an accomplished business executive with experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain and project management, team building, and process improvement. He has worked with hundreds of companies to improve sales, processes, and bottom-line results. MaxImpact offers leadership and organizational development services along with employee assessments and background checks. Contact Rick at 248-802-6138 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. MaxImpact is on the web at http://www.getmaximpact.com.