Hiring a new employee is among the most stressful duties we encounter in our profession. We need someone not only to fill a need, but also to fit with the firm’s culture and interact cooperatively with other team members. Finding the right individual is never an easy task, and occasionally we make a bad choice and have to start the entire process over again. I believe that your firm can significantly increase its success rate in hiring, however, by following a proven process.
Do your homework
Planning is the key to hiring the right employee. Think about what he or she will actually be doing (the job description), identify to whom that person will report, his or her team members and work environment. Determine these before you start to advertise and interview.
Boomer Consulting, Inc. uses a team approach in this process. Together we document job duties and discuss where the new hire will work and what kinds of equipment he or she will need. We also discuss how that person will work. Is it okay for him or her to work from home, or should this position be stationed in the office? Will he or she work in a team or independently most of the time?
Once we all have a clear vision of what this person will do for us, the new hire’s supervisor conducts a Kolbe C Index™ to identify what instincts this person should possess in order to be successful.
With this final step complete, we have a vision of the job role and understand the instincts the new hire must possess in order to succeed.
The more places you advertise, the more likely you are to get that one, GREAT applicant. Boomer advertises in the local paper (both online and in print), at the local university, at a local technical college and, of course, by "word of mouth” through our network of professional contacts.
We always request a cover letter, resume and references in an advertisement. We provide a mailing address, e-mail address and walk-in location to submit application materials. (The last time we posted a position, we received 30 applications.)
Don't be afraid to screen
We narrow the list of applicants in half during the initial screening process.
- We reject anyone who does not include a cover letter and resume and references! The advertisement clearly states that all three are required. Because we need an individual who can follow basic instructions, those that can’t are the first to be eliminated. (A recent list of applicants we sorted went from 30 to 22 in just five minutes.)
- We reject anyone with a spelling error in his or her cover letter or resume! Let’s face it— job application materials should represent the applicant’s best effort. (The list went from 22 to 15 in about 15 minutes!)
- We examine the applicant’s experience and education to determine if those match basic job requirements. (The list went from 15 to 7 in another 15 minutes!)
- We now have a short list of candidates who can follow basic instructions, put forth effort to submit a clean application and meet basic job requirements.
Interview #1 – Individual
To prepare for an interview, have the job description, Kolbe C results and a list of pre-selected questions to ask all candidates. Set aside at least an hour for each candidate and try to make him or her as comfortable as possible. When a candidate is relaxed and comfortable, he or she will reflect more of himself or herself in the interview. Discuss all the questions and jot down notes. Take special care to identify if the person will feel comfortable in your environment (large or small) and if he or she is qualified for the available position.
If the person is qualified and has the attributes required for the job role, we ask the candidate take the Kolbe A Index, which reveals an individual’s personal instincts. We then match the Kolbe A against the Kolbe C to ensure that the candidate is a right fit.
Next, call at least two references. Ensure that what you see in the interview matches what a person has demonstrated on the job. Although some believe that references do not offer much, we have not found the opposite to be true. Unless a particular question is out of line, references are usually willing to answer most anything about a candidate. The bottom line—you won’t know unless you try.
After interviewing the short list of candidates, select two who have interviewed effectively, have the proper skills as well as Kolbe scores and whose references are good. Move them on to the next round of interviews with the team.
Interview #2 – The Team
Conduct a team meeting about 30 minutes before each of the final two interviews. Review the candidate’s basic information and pass out a copy of his or her resume. Discuss what the staff can and cannot ask during the team interview and review the format.
(One of the best questions I heard from a team member during an interview session was, "If you were stranded on a desert island, what two books and two CDs would you most want to have with you (assuming you have a solar powered CD player)?” There is no right or wrong answer to these kinds of questions—but they can indicate whether a candidate can think on his or her feet. They additionally give you insight into what that person enjoys learning. We have had some interesting and articulate answers to opened-ended questions like these.
Make a decision
Convene the team to discuss both candidates, especially their strengths and weaknesses. In the end, the decision may be difficult and your firm might rightly hire either candidate. After a thorough discussion, however, the merits of one will outshine the other (albeit ever so slightly).
While it may not be perfect, we have found this process to be highly effective in hiring the right individual for each job role in our company. And because we believe in it so strongly, we recommend it to you.