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Hiring Employees – Seven Winning Strategies


Hiring Employees - Seven Winning StrategiesChoosing the right employee for your business is a very important decision that can often be a time-consuming and expensive process. Thoughtful, up-front preparation will reduce the possibility of adding a poor candidate to your existing team. Busy managers are often tempted to fill positions quickly which may result in a marginal employee who can cost you lots of money.

Interviewing is still an art that takes practice to perfect. It is difficult for anyone to make the right decision 100 percent of the time, as one in five hires turns out to be a bad choice [1]. Often pressure to fill the position can tempt you to hire a marginal candidate. Spending the time to hire the best person for the job will save you repeating an expensive process: the time it takes to hire, advertising costs, training and development costs, lower productivity in everyone who works with a new hire and loss of customer relationships.

Start with the following seven strategies to make a winning selection:

1. Define the job. Clearly identify the tasks or functions that the employee will undertake. This will result in a job overview or job description that will help you define the selection criteria and also show the candidate what is expected of them.

The types of information collected during job analysis will be specific to each organization. However, typical kinds of information that are gathered are:

• Summary of duties
• Details of most common duties
• Supervisory responsibilities
• Educational requirements
• Special qualification
• Experience
• Equipment/tools used
• Frequency of supervision
• Others the incumbent must be in contact with
• Supervisory responsibilities
• Authority for decision making
• Responsibility for records/reports/files
• Working conditions
• Physical demand of the job
• Mental demands of the job
When designing jobs some of the issues to consider are:
• How will the job contribute to the goals of the organization?
• Do the duties that are grouped together require a similar or complimentary skill set?
• Will grouping certain tasks together be efficient?
• Do the tasks that are grouped together make sense for work-flow at the individual and organizational level?
• Are there ergonomic factors that should be taken into account when grouping tasks?

One of the well-known theories on job design looks at jobs from the employee’s perspective. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham link employee motivation and job satisfaction to the following characteristics of a job:

Skill Variety — the degree to which the job involves different tasks and uses different skills.

Task Identity — the degree to which the job requires the completion of a whole/complete piece of work – doing the task from beginning to end.

Task Significance — the degree to which the job has importance to the organization and/or others.

Autonomy — the amount of independence and discretion the employee has in completing her/his work.

Feedback – the degree to which the employee is given direct information about the effectiveness of his/her performance.

Keep these five characteristics in mind when designing jobs for your organization. Jobs that are interesting, motivating and satisfying usually lead to enhanced retention.

2. Selection criteria. Based on the job overview, you can now create selection criteria. What skills will the employee need to do the job (e.g. attention to detail, customer service skills, communication skills, or ability to problem solve)? These criteria will help you design your interview questions, assess each interview and determine the overall best candidate for the position.

Based on the job description for the position, develop the criteria that will be used to screen resumes and select the best person for the job.

• What skills are essential to the position?
• How will you ensure the new employee fits the culture of your organization?
• Ensure that your criteria are not discriminatory.
• Ensure that they are specific, measurable and job-related.

3. Interview questions. Prepare a set of common questions to ask each of the candidates for both telephone and in-person interviews. Open ended questions will engage the candidate and encourage more information exchange. Behavioral interviewing will focus on the candidates experience, knowledge and past behaviors, using the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior and performance. This style of question will focus on how they did behave in a situation, instead of how they would behave. The model is “Tell me about a time that you handled an angry or disappointed client.” Questions should be based on the selection criteria for the position.

4. Resume review. A good resume is an applicant’s best effort to impress you. Look for completeness, accuracy (spelling or grammatical mistakes), length of time in each role, gaps in work history and incomplete or missing information. If attention to detail is extremely important, but the resume contains spelling mistakes, this might not be the best candidate. Rate the candidate against the selection.

5. Interviewing. A telephone interview will save you time and give you the chance to further evaluate the candidates while working to develop a short-list. When you arrange your in-person interviews, choose a location is accessible to all candidates, is free from interruptions and allows you the time to get to know the candidate. Establish a friendly environment at the start of the interview to develop rapport and set the candidate at ease. Take notes during each interview and assess each candidate immediately after their interview while everything is still fresh in your mind. The selection criteria established at the start of the process will aid in the assessment.

If the applicant is vague and has difficulty communicating in the interview, they will likely have the same communication skills on the job. Alternatively, if the candidate is a gabby talker during the interview, they will likely have the same tendency on the job. Correct fit with your current team is also very important and will contribute to a successful choice. Many experts recommend that you hire for attitude and train for skills.

6. Reference-checks. During the interview, ask the applicant for permission to contact their references. If they have not provided references for previous positions you can ask questions such as “What would this supervisor say about you?” Questions for references should also be based using job-related criteria.

7. The offer. When ready to offer the position, provide the candidate with a comprehensive offer letter that clearly outlines the employment contract.

Human Resource professionals can assist you with this process. A well-designed system will help reduce the risk of making a poor choice and help you find a winning addition for your team.

[1] DDI “The Selection Forecast: Recruiting and Hiring Talent”

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