Anyone who’s taken the time to review and understand some of the reports produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has something you do not – a realization that for every good hire you bring in, there are 2 more that just won’t cut it. How can this be? Simple: about 95% of the time, candidates will embellish or exaggerate in an effort to win the job.
As the job market continues to see improvement, a growing number of people who are seeking work are out in full force with renewed hopes of regaining full employment again. Joining them are those who have stayed in the workforce and survived the downturn, but now seek the advancement or salary increases they may have had to forgo. Competition is heated, which means the difference between getting the offer and not might come down to how much better a candidate can make him or herself sound when compared to other candidates with similar backgrounds.
The following is the first of a multi-part series we’ve put together in order to highlight common hiring mistakes that employers make and, more importantly, how to avoid making them.
Universally Poor Preparation
I had a coach that used the phrase, “Practice and preparation prevents poor performance.” OK, his version was a bit more colorful, but you get the idea. It made sense then, and still rings true today. The reason I mention that poor preparation is universal is because both the candidate and the interviewers need to be adequately prepared.
Start with the candidate. If your candidate fails to ask about your company and the specifics of the job for which he or she has applied, help the candidate out. Prepare your candidates better for the interview, so interviewers spend their time on the important issues: determining the candidate’s skills and fit within your culture. Prepare the candidate by describing the company, the details of the position, the background and titles of the interviewers, and whatever will eliminate time wasting while the candidate interviews within your company.
Don’t forget about the interviewers, though. You wouldn’t choose a college for your child or launch a project without a plan. Why, then, do organizations put so little planning into interviewing candidates for positions? Interviewers need to meet in advance and create a plan. Who is responsible for which types of questions? What aspect of the candidate’s credentials is each person assessing? Who is assessing cultural fit and how? Plan to succeed in employee selection in advance.
If the interview preparation process sounds like work, that’s because it is. Any hiring manager worth their salt knows this all too well. Good preparation can take time that just isn’t available. Multiply the candidate-specific preparation by the number of candidates and then multiply that by the number of positions and you begin to get a feel for the resource drain on the organization. More importantly, you begin to recognize how this vital step can easily become so abbreviated that it’s almost pointless.
With this in mind, one can start to understand the value that a good recruiter will be able to deliver to the organization willing to admit that they aren’t equipped to do everything. Recruiters take a beating, often justifiably, for their seemingly effortless ability to find candidates and collect fees. This is largely because it’s difficult to quantify just how much value their services have on the bottom line. While there are some who have managed to survive by scraping job boards and throwing enough volume against the wall until something sticks, the real professionals follow a detailed process of vetting candidates while taking the time to understand their backgrounds as well as their client’s corporate culture.
At Ztek Consulting, for example, we follow a rigorous process where candidates are interviewed a minimum of twice and often 3 times before ever being presented to a client. One interview is focused on the technical aspects by a subject matter expert in that area, particularly if it’s highly complex and open to manipulation by candidates, such as SAP or other, similar ERP-related skills. Another interview might focus on soft skills and look for a good cultural fit with the client. This is in addition to background, employment and reference checks to confirm that the resume, candidate and interview responses are all in sync.
By taking the necessary time and effort up front, whether internally or through an outside recruiting partner, you can minimize the chances that the high-flying candidate who interviews well and looks good on paper actually turns out to be a big dud.
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