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10 Steps to Recruiting the Right Person for the Job

Interviewing job candidates has become rather like Shark Tank — except that you’re in the driver’s seat, which automatically puts you in a position of relative psychological advantage over the candidate.

Because job interviews are seldom level playing fields, it’s really in your mutual interest to make the process worthwhile so that both of you, having exchanged the salient points, are wiser for the knowledge and determine the correct direction thereafter.

No question, there are some very tough cookie recruiters and HR types out there who don’t want their time wasted. One claims she can do it in seven minutes. Some go all out to competitively and aggressively recruit talent, employing Olympic competition or even war-like strategies.

Okay, so you’re seeking the right person for a particular position within your company or organisation. Would you boil it down, to “skill, will and fit”? This form of recruitment speed-dating might work in some instances, but that’s not always the case:

  • Skill: Many organisations make this worse by asking leading questions about how the candidate “solved” certain challenges when they were in their last role. The candidate may neglect to mention that others were key to rectifying a particular mess, painting themselves in an unfairly glowing light.

  • Will: What’s wrong with good old-fashioned tenacity and focus? “Will” can be code for “powermonger” or “steamroller” — it’s too broad a term to be useful in recruitment.

  • Fit: This is frequently HR shorthand for lazy selection methods. Saying that someone fits well with a team doesn’t matter if the person is not right for the organisation. Besides, you can’t really know if a candidate is a “good fit” until they’ve been on the job for a few months and are actually successful.

Catchy slogans don’t cut it if you’re seeking high achievers, let alone candidates who are right for your organisation. You may learn the hard way that a candidate knows just what to say to you, whereas the one who didn’t talk in 10-second “bites” might have been the better candidate.

It’s true that we can form a pretty accurate assessment of most people within the first few minutes of meeting them. But the point of an interview is gathering evidence to back, or overcome, that initial impression.

In a survey of 20,000 employees, Leadership IQ found 46% of new hires had failed in the first 18 months, mostly owing to attitudinal (rather than technical) reasons. In other words, the new hires stumbled on coachability and emotional intelligence.

If you’re wanting to recruit high achievers that hit their mark, make sure you are following these 10 steps.

1. Determine organisational needs

Do the research and determine what your company really needs (this will naturally vary, depending on those you’ve already got there, their skill sets and personalities), and above all, how well your workplace already functions. Taking the time to determine the exact qualification and competencies you are looking for will help you make a better decision.

2. Assess resumes

Read resumes properly, study them for essentially required, developmental areas, and inconsistencies. Try to get a feel for the candidates, and do your vetting (beware the overly glowing referees who may secretly be trying to get rid of the person).

3. Spend enough quality time with candidates

Set aside a decent window to meet with the candidate. This cuts out the razzle dazzle, and gives them a chance to listen and speak (the same applies to you). It’s preferable to let them know at the beginning how long the discussion will be.

4. Challenge them with questions

By all means ask curly questions — you want a person who thinks on their feet and who has experience. Equally, you’re looking for initiative and capacity for good judgment.

5. Determine attitude

Seek a combination of energy, positivity and keenness to learn, balanced with what they already know. If a candidate seems a little cynical or reticent, draw them out to see if they warm up (some won’t and may be clear non-starters for the role).

6. Assess problem-solving skills

Look for people who have good problem-solving approaches, but don’t forget they may not always have been in a position to problem-solve. Give them an example of a minor problem they would encounter on a regular basis and ask how they would handle it.

7. Don’t jump on generational assumptions

Examples include privileging millennials over Generation X’s or vice versa, or letting biases bubble to the surface. You’re wanting the best person for this role, so don’t be superficial — think about what really will progress your organisation. Don’t get caught up with generational differences.

8. Listen carefully to their answers

Have your questions ready, but listen closely to what candidates say and how they say it — if you avoid clichéd approaches to questions and trendy phrasing such as “what are you passionate about?” you may well get far more revealing answers. A little silence here and there can be useful in eliciting further explanation.

9. Include other decision-makers

You may like to bring in a second, even third person to co-conduct the interview with you. This can allow you to draw on their reactions and different interviewing approach as a means of sifting through various candidates.

10. Manage emotional energy

Don’t forget, job interviews can be emotionally draining for both interviewer and interviewee. Offer them coffee, tea or water before you begin, choose a pleasant, quiet place for the discussion, and bring some warmth and good will to the meeting. Chances are, you’ll meet halfway, and that’s far better for determining prospective hires than speed-recruiting or trite one-size-fits-all approaches to asking questions.

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