hiring employees

The Challenge of Hiring Employees

A Different Approach To Hiring Employees

I smiled to myself the other day, when one of my clients commented that she just wasn’t good at hiring employees. If I had a dollar for every time, I heard that from a business owner…you know how the rest goes.

I don’t think there is a business owner, manager, supervisor, human resource expert or anyone else who has ever been in the roll of hiring employees, who doesn’t have at least a couple of stories where they made a wrong decision about someone. It has happened to us all, but it doesn’t mean that we are bad at it.

It is easy to forget that there have likely been many times when you were successful at picking the right people. Maybe you weren’t hiring someone, but it could have been assigning work to someone who did an amazing job. Or, it could have been you recruited a volunteer to join a committee and that individual helped elevate the success of the team. In order to know you are bad at something, you have to be able to ignore all the times when you did it well, and we all have stories of where we did.

Hiring is a challenge. When you think about it, you generally get to meet an individual for a couple of hours, at most, where you are expected to be able to see beyond the façade (the one we have all displayed when we have been in an interview) and figure out based on the select information they provide you, whether or not all their quirks, idiosyncrasies, beliefs, skills and experience will be a good fit in your organization. To top it off, we ask them to give us the names of people who will vouch for them, and then make the reference call where we know the person on the other end of the phone is likely rooting for the individual to get the job.

Could you imagine marrying someone using the same technique?

One of the things to recognize is while most of us tell ourselves, “we can train them, if we have the right person”, a lot of times we focus more around their education and hands on experience rather than really dig into who they are as a person.

Instead, we ask those questions like, “if you had to deal with a tough situation, how would you handle it”, of “tell me about a time when….”. (Which by the way, I have rarely run into anyone who describes themselves as a withering flower or absolute mess with these types of questions.) They are mostly like to give you the answer they think they would like to hear, rather than the opposite.

So how do you get to know someone in an interview process?

Here are a couple of tactics you might consider:

  • Take them on a tour of your business – Give them a chance to get to know your business; what you do, how you do your process, what type of people work there, etc. Encourage them to ask questions and have more of a conversation as you go. Put down your notes and have a conversation with them and as you go don’t be afraid to ask them things like, “What interested you in working here?”, “What attracts you to a company?”, etc.
  • Invite them to a team meeting with your team – Give them a chance to interact with your employees and see how they fit. Make sure the meeting is nothing too technical or sensitive, but have one where they might be able to contribute. Ask their opinions and thoughts and see how those fit with the team.
  • Ask them to write you a brief essay – Give them a topic like, “What are the top five things companies should provide for their employees and why? Ask them to write as much or as little as they want and tell them that you would love to hear their opinion. It doesn’t have to be this question exactly, but you can learn a lot about a person in what they choose to write about.

I recognize that depending on the position and the company, these may not be ideas easily incorporated into the interview process, but if you want to improve your odds in hiring, make sure you like the person and the rest will start to take care of itself.

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