I am currently a writer for a career blog but was recently asked “How can I make sure I’m hiring the right person for a job? Some times the person that has the right education doesn’t have the skills/experience or vice versa. Sometimes I’m happy to hire someone that will better fit the team, regardless of their skills/background. How do I get the right person?”
Since it didn’t really fit into the blog I thought I’d post it on my personal site for my readers. Without any further ado, I offer you an open letter to employers:
You find yourself with a vacancy on your team and are seeking a rockstar employee to fill the spot. They need to know their stuff but you’re more concerned with how well they’ll mesh with your already finely tuned team because you can build on skills for the right person. So how do you go about it?
Getting past a person’s “business ready persona” is a challenge but not impossible. There’s a few assessments you can do to find your next awesome employee.
When you greeted the employee did they return your enthusiasm? How was their handshake? Nerves make people act differently but doing interviews you learn to assess that first impression.
Interview with colleague
I make it a policy to institute two person interviews whenever I join a new company. The basic principle is that there are two interviewers in each session, one to ask the questions and the other to assess the candidate. I often let someone else ask the questions and I make notes on the candidates answers, body language, ability to answer clearly, etc. After the interview my colleague and I sit down and discuss our notes. This allows us to discuss and view each candidate clearly.
Ask the right questions
Before the interview, make a list of your questions and if you can answer any of them with yes or no, rephrase them. Make sure you have technical questions and personality questions. Technical questions are ones that specifically ask the candidate to describe how they performed certain tasks or used programs, “In your previous position you used Simply Accounting. Describe what you used that program for? How did your company utilise the program and describe your level of use?” Personality questions are still open ended but they allow you to find out how the person handles stress, rough days, etc. “You arrive at work to find that there was a power outage and your computer isn’t working. What would you do in this situation?” or “You receive a complaint from an irate customer, they claim that you made an error and the company owes them money, how do you handle this situation?”. In a previous position in the construction industry we often asked, “Our office has a large base of tradesmen and sometimes their language in common areas can be offensive. How do you respond to that type of language?”, because we knew that this could be a potential issue. Ask the questions you need to in order to find out the answers you require.
Manage the conversation
Nothing is as frustrating as a candidate that doesn’t give a clear and concise answer to a question. You are moderating the conversation and sometimes you need to step in and redirect the candidate. This is perfect for the “silent” interview partner to do because it allows the person asking the question to keep their rhythm.
Question: “None of us are perfect, we all have areas we can improve upon. What would your previous employers identify as one of your weaknesses?”
Flubbering candidate: “Great question, that’s a really good one…. Um,…” *Insert the sound of crickets here* “… well, wow, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure.”
Silent interviewer: “Let’s look at it another way, What areas would you say you could be stronger in?”
Most importantly, don’t allow the candidate to control the entire conversation. If you don’t understand an answer, ask for clarification. It’s your show, get your money’s worth.
Be True to yourself and your brand
In the interview, use the language of your company culture. If words like “awesome, epic, brilliant, stellar” are used than use them in the interview. The way that you conduct yourself will give cues to how relaxed or professional the candidate needs to be in the interview. If you relax and are friendly, you’ll find the candidates will be more willing to show their true selves.
If you get stuck, give an expert a call. Networks like Linkedin give you a connection to professionals and former colleagues that are often more than happy to help out if you get stuck. Alternatively the federal and provincial governments have websites and helplines for employers to get additional resources. Lastly, you can always hire an HR Consultant like me.