By Jamie Belinne
Finding the right people to help you grow and manage your business is one of the hardest and most important tasks you will face as a business owner. Yet most people rush through this process and either get lucky with a good hire, or pay a tremendous price in lost business and productivity with a bad hire. One of the best investments you can make in the future of your business is taking the time up front to make sure you hire the best candidate for your company.
1. Write a Job Description
Let’s face it – writing job descriptions isn’t very fun, which is why we avoid doing it. In reality, it will probably take you less than an hour if you focus on the task, and the investment of time will save you many more hours of misunderstandings and missed opportunities later on. When writing the description, be sure to include:
a. Primary responsibilities of the role
b. Outcomes for which the role may be responsible
c. Specific skills, qualities or competencies needed to do the job well
d. Specific training or experience needed to do the job well
2. Determine Compensation
The easiest way to start this process is to look at similar job postings that have the salary listed. If the job requires specialized skills, you can often find salary surveys through professional organizations related to those types of skills. Also, determine how much compensation, if any, should be in the form of commissions, bonuses, options or even ownership. Benchmarking job postings is a good start for this, but looking at your current financial situation and the importance of the position you are filling is necessary as well.
3. Advertise Correctly
Broad-based newspaper and web advertising doesn’t hurt, but it’s often a really big net to catch just one fish. For entry-level positions, you can generally post your positions for little or no money through local universities. For instance, the Bauer College of Business posts jobs to students for free through hirebauer.com. For more experienced positions, you can sometimes have your job advertised for little or no money through professional associations relevant to your industry or the position being hired. Linked In groups are a great way to spread the word without spending a lot of money. For very specialized positions, you might even look at the web page of similar companies with similar roles and call their specialized employees to ask for referrals of qualified candidates.
4. Screen Carefully and Objectively
Based on your job description, develop a list of the training and experience required for the job. Resumes have lots of information designed to distract you from the qualifications you need, so the more focused you are in your screening, the more likely you are to get a qualified employee.
Your first pass through the resumes you receive should be based solely on your list of required training and experience.
Your next pass should be based on whose skills and experience are the most directly relevant to your position.
The third pass, if one is needed, should be based on the more subtle aspects of their resumes, such as longevity in positions, experience in start-up environments or demonstrated leadership in the community. Two of the simplest screens you can do on a resume are for typographical errors (demonstrate poor attention to detail) or badly worded descriptions (demonstrate poor communication skills).
5. Use Competency-Based, Behavioral Interviews
Research has shown time and again that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Your interview questions should leverage this understanding. For instance, rather than saying, “What would you do if you had to deal with an angry customer?”, asking “Tell me about the last time you dealt with an angry customer and how you handled it?” will give you a much more telling response.
After all, some job candidates are just charming, nice people. They’re easy to like and fun to have around. That doesn’t mean you want the success of your business to depend on them. Some of the nicest people in the world can still be completely incompetent, so you can play golf with them, but don’t hire them! Focusing on competencies and behaviors is the best way to avoid the “nice guy” trap.
Start by looking at the skills, qualities and competencies you selected for your job description, and use those as the basis for your questions. All of the questions should be designed for the candidate to give you a specific example of how he or she has used this competency in the past. Most of your questions will start with “Tell me about a time. . .” or “Give me an example of when. . .” For instance, some great, competency-based, behavioral questions are given below:
Tell me about a time you were in a team where there was a disagreement on how to handle an issue and how you handled it.
Give me an example of a time you were leading a project and people weren’t doing what you wanted and how you handled it.
Ability to handle stress/failure:
Tell me about a time you failed.
Dealing with ambiguity:
Give me an example of a time you were asked to reach a goal, but you couldn’t get any information on how anyone wanted you to get there.
Tell me about a time you saw a problem and took the initiative to fix it.
There are three keys to using this kind of question when evaluating the answers:
a. Make certain the candidates give you specific examples. Do not allow them to give a hypothetical situation. Allow them time to think or to come back to the question if they have trouble coming up with a specific situation they were in.
b. Make certain the candidate tells you about the specific action that he or she took in the situation. Do not allow them to talk about how other people solved the problem for them or how they were not accountable.
c. Don’t let them finish their story without an ending. Make sure they tell you the outcome of the situation and their outcomes, as this information can be extremely telling, as well as their reactions to the outcome.
Using a defined job description, with correct compensation and advertising, competency-based screening and behavioral interviews will help you find the right person to make your business successful. The “what a great guy” hiring approach is much simpler and faster on the front end, but the financial and time costs after the hire can bring your business to its knees.