Hiring Tip -- Picking The Best Candidates

I often hear leaders from all types of organizations ask questions about hiring the right person. Their questions usually sound like these:

? What if their resume looks great but they have a bad attitude?

? What if they put on a good act and then don't work hard?

? How can I tell how they will perform after I hire them?

A great way to answer these questions starts with a well-defined interview process. I have heard the procedure called many things. I first learned it as the Behavioral Event interview process. The guiding thought behind this system is that "while it is no guarantee of success, past performance is the best indicator of future performance."

Here is the main idea -- develop an interview system that forces the candidate to tell you, in direct and specific terms, how they have worked in the past. You want the candidate to do more than recount where they have worked and what experience they have. You can read their resume to get that information. You want the candidate to tell you: how they think, how they work, and how they relate to other people.

Actual implementation can get a little involved, but the basic process goes like this:

1) Identify the key skills (attributes, attitudes, etc) for success in your organization. In a big company, you might develop the list by interviewing successful people in the organization. In a smaller company, you could brainstorm with the owner(s) about what they want to see in an employee.

2) Rank the competencies to separate the "must-have" traits from the "would be nice" traits. Write your list in the form of a checklist for use during interviews.

3) Develop a series of questions that get people to tell you specifics about their experience. The best series start with broad, open-ended questions and lead to follow-up with questions that dig for specifics.

For example, the series could go like this:

Start with an open-ended question like "Tell me about a time in your high school (college, internship, last job, etc.) when you had to convince another student (co-worker, etc.) to help you?" or "Tell me about a time from your last job (internship, college, etc.) that you had to make a sudden change in plans?" Let them pick the scenario; you probe for specifics.

When they give you the scenario, begin the process of "peeling the onion." Ask follow-up questions like "When that happened, what was the first thing you did?" Then, "Who did you talk to to make the change happen?" Maybe you could follow that with,"Did they react positively or negatively to your request, and how did you respond to them?"

The idea is to get the candidate talking about how they handled a specific situation (their feelings, actions, and responses). By addressing a specific situation rather than a hypothetical scenario, you get a good feel for how they might handle a similar situation in the future.

4) As the candidate responds, look for evidence of the core competencies you identified in step 1. Use your checklist to keep track of your observations.

5) Train several people to conduct this type of interview. Always have more than one person involved in the process. I suggest having several people interview the candidate. Each interviewer should ask about a different part of the person's life and work experience (school, work, volunteer work, etc).

6) After the interview process, get each interviewer together to compare notes and observations. If the candidate demonstrates the key skills you are seeking across several areas of their life, they are likely to bring those skills into your business. Now you have a good basis for deciding whether this person fits you and your organization.

I have been through this type of interview on both sides of the table. I find that it works very well and creates a win-win scenario for both parties. For the qualified candidate, the process feels good because there are no "trick" questions. For the interviewer, it gives you concrete information that you can use to make an informed decision about the candidate's fit in your organization. Only the unqualified candidate loses. For them, the process is uncomfortable. They must give specifics; there is little room for "shading the truth" to get the job.

You may use this article for electronic distribution if you will include all contact information with live links back to the author. Notification of use is not required, but I would appreciate it. Please contact the author prior to use in printed media.

Copyright 2005, Guy Harris

Guy Harris is a Recovering Engineer. He works as a Relationship Repairman and People-Process Integrator. His background includes service as a US Navy Submarine Officer, functional management with major multi-national corporations, and senior management in an international chemical business. As the owner of Principle Driven Consulting, he helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders improve team performance by applying the principles of human behavior.

Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System(tm)" to help parents reduce stress and conflict with their children by effectively applying behavioral principles in the home. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com

Learn more about Guy at http://www.principledriven.com

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

What to do When You receive a Bad Check

As a small business operator, personal checks may be one... Read More

How to Reduce Temporary Employee Turnover

The use of temporary services to stock a farm of... Read More

How To Decrease Profits Without Really Trying

Hurting your sales efforts can be accomplished easily with the... Read More

Phone Sex is Bad for Business

On August 3rd/2005, Reuters reported that a German man had... Read More

Strategic Clarity for Communication Management

Over the past few weeks I've been developing plans for... Read More

Sending Documents Through Email? Dont Get Burned by Metadata!

During a recent seminar I gave located in the suburbs... Read More

6 Shared Factors of Successful Executives

These factors where determined by interviews with and books from... Read More

Building A Stellar Business One Employee At A Time

Top businesses that continually lead their industry clearly understand a... Read More

Industry Analysis Section of Your business plan

Writing a Business Plan for your next entrepreneurial endeavor is... Read More

Romford Accountants: Accountancy Firm Roles and Responsibilities

If you own or operate a business in the UK,... Read More

What Every HR Manager Should Know About Hiring Productive Employees

The characteristics of job applicants have a strong influence on... Read More

Ringing Doorbells Without Howitzers

Many operations leaders have been there, done that with re-engineering.... Read More

ISO 9001 Registration ? 8 Steps for Success

You've made the plans, built the quality system and conducted... Read More

Employees - Treat Them the Way They Expect to be Treated

When you have to deal with one of your team... Read More

Innovation Management ? the power of decision makers

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

Implementation the Catalyst of Change for Management to Reach that Next Level of Success

From the personal and professional experiences of other colleagues and... Read More

Which ITIL Process Should We Implement First?

The following question is usually debated a lot amongst IT... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management: Specialisation or Generalisation?

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

The 6 Steps to Six Sigma

Step 1Get the proper level of Six Sigma expertise at... Read More

Building Bridges of Communication

Building a 'bridge of understanding' between parties is... Read More

How Your Business Can Pick A Software Developer

Eventually, your business is going to need to have some... Read More

The Seven Cs: Partnership Danger Signs - Communication Breakdown

An ongoing series of articles exploring the seven critical areas... Read More

Project Management - I Want It ALL

The knee-jerk response to prioritizing requirements is to mark everything... Read More

Dont Hire Squirrels to be Your Top Dogs

Bad hiring decisions cost organizations, both in dollars and lost... Read More

Dont Get Side-Tracked By The Nay-Sayers

You, the Entrepreneur, are 'normally' a type-A individual. One who... Read More

Innovation Management ? idea selection, development and commercialisation, what are the differences?

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

Presenteeism: The Hidden Costs of Business

(prez.un.TEE.iz.um) nPresenteeism, a relatively unknown concept, is the complement of... Read More

A Rare Leadership Skill: Dealing With People Who Want Out By Offering Crowns For Convoy

As a leader, you'll inevitably be faced with people wanting... Read More

Your Company Without Training - Any Questions?

Okay, be honest!Are you guilty of sticking in a few... Read More

I Said Pareto Chart? Not Potato Chart!

Does this sound familiar? You were hired for the new... Read More

Let the Intern Do It - Affordable Help for Your Business

Do you have more projects than time? Help might be... Read More

Innovation Management ? Measuring Failure!

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

How to Deal With Salespeople

If you are an executive, you may sometimes feel like... Read More