BY CAROL QUINN
This is the perfect time for an article on hiring as so many companies are starting to step up their staffing. Determining the need to improve upon one’s hiring process, and making the changes, is something that should be done right now. Understand, in the past, marginal job performers got into companies somehow. They weren’t great hires that suddenly changed after their start date. Poor performance can be traced back to incorrect assessments and the ill-fated decision to hire. Many companies only address poor performance with employee counseling and discipline, and/or an array of motivational tactics, stopping short of fixing the real problem - how they got hired. Realize…the past is guaranteed to repeat itself unless something changes today! Unless something is done differently, there are more,needless bad hires yet to come.
- How effective are interviewers at selecting high achievers?
When the economy is robust and the unemployment rate is low, the supply and demand model favors the applicant, not the employer. Companies can struggle just to fill all of their job openings. Conversely, having a flood of applicants doesn’t make it any easier either. In any labor market, the goal is always the same - to hire passionate, driven employees who will achieve great results. Unfortunately, no matter the quantity of applicants, there are times we mistakenly select poor performers thinking they’re good hires. The opposite can occur as well. Without realizing, we can easily say, “No Thanks!” to an applicant who would do a great job. More important than the number of qualified applicants is our ability to accurately recognize quality. Discerning the difference between who is motivated to do the job and who is just motivated to get the job involves more than just assessing a candidate’s level of skill. Without knowing how to properly identify the best, many unskilled, untrained interviewers can only rely on their gut instinct to tell them which candidate to select. This would not be a problem if it consistently produced good results but it does not. Sometimes it works in our favor and other times a not-so-good hire is extended a job offer. Improving an organization’s quality-of-hire involves improving the effectiveness of the interviewers.
- Not all interviewing methods are equal.
Both behavior and competency-based interviewing focuses almost solely on an applicant’s skill level. Skill may be important, but we all know it takes more than just skill to succeed. If skill were the be-all-end-all when it comes to achieving great success, it wouldn’t matter really who we hired because we could teach anyone the skill and everyone would be a high achiever. But that’s not reality! What is reality is who we hire matters. I don’t believe any interviewer knowingly makes a bad hiring decision. They do the best they can with what they know. The breakdown occurs not in the decision-making process but rather in the information-gathering process. Interviewers often ask ineffective interview questions and lack the knowledge on what information to gather that is the best predictor of future performance and success. Many also lack the know-how on how to best get this information. Having the skill to do a job doesn’t necessarily mean a person will be highly motivated or will go above and beyond to achieve extraordinary results. Skill level does not consistently equate to job performance level. That’s why employers typically have such mixed hiring results - they base their hiring decision on an applicant’s skill level alone. Gathering motivation information, in addition to skill, is a much better way to go. Motivation assessment is not a new concept, however, assessing motivation correctly is. You cannot ask an applicant outright, “Are you highly self-motivated?” Every applicant, even the most unmotivated ones will say “ABSOLUTELY!” These are holes in behavior and competency-based interviewing that are causing marginal job performers to be mistaken for good hires. Even asking an applicant to share an example of a time when they were motivated is an ineffective approach as well. That’s because motivation does NOT exist in only two degrees - 100% or nothing. Realize, even a ‘coach potato’ will get up to change the batteries in the remote control. There is a better way of interviewing and assessing motivation. If you are not familiar with an interviewing methodology called motivation-based interviewing (or “MBI” for short)…you should be!!! It has been around for more than ten years now and is being used globally now. It is replacing other lesser-effective interviewing methods…and for good reason. MBI is a common sense, easy-to-use, structured interviewing process that assesses the three components that ALL high achievers share that enable them to produce above-average results. The three components they all share are: skill, “I can” attitude, and passion (-it’s the attitude and passion that join forces to create self-motivation). MBI is an interviewing method that was specifically developed for hiring high achievers.
- Many people believe that their years of interviewing experience automatically make them an effective interviewer.
This one is my personal favorite! The biggest roadblock to improving hiring is often convincing the interviewers themselves that they would benefit from training. More managers and recruiters come to workshops kicking and screaming in defiance, stating they have too many more important things they need to be doing, but leave professing it was the most valuable training they ever had. If a company is already filled with top performers, then indeed, interviewer training is unnecessary. However, if you track and review hiring statistics, many companies find they have too few top performers, and it’s no wonder. By 2013, applicants have become more educated on how to ace an interview while 80% of those making the hiring decisions have had no formal training on how to select the best. For those interviewers who have had some training, it’s typically just the legal do’s and don’ts, and/or some interviewing basics. They’ve never learned how to correctly predict future job performance. It’s absolutely absurd when you think about it. Do we really believe this has no negative effect?
THE CONCLUSION: If Bad Hires Squeaked - Part Two will be email to newsletter subscribers on March 18, 2013. Subscribe Now! (NEW subscribers receive free eBook written by Carol Quinn titled Outrageous Potential Unleashed - Leadership Edition)
In Part Two: (Preview) Many interviewers bring with them what they learned at prior jobs. When one large retailer asked their interviewers, all spread out in different locations, to send in copies of the interview guides they used for hiring Assistant Managers. They received 75 different ones. There was absolutely no consistency. This other company had beautifully printed interview guides but 83% of their questions were ineffective for singling out high achievers. Another company had a standard interview format but their training focused mainly on how to keep the company out of litigation. They provided no specifics on how to single out the ‘A’ Players. Since the full cost of bad hiring are typically not tracked, it’s hard to say which costs more - poor performers or lawsuits. I’m betting it’s the poor job performers that are costing companies the most. Furthermore, a recent Career Builder article quoted research that found “more than two-thirds (68 percent) of employers said they were affected by a bad hire in the past year” and costing the company between $25,000 and $50,000 for each one. You’ve likely heard the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. If only bad hires squeaked, perhaps then the selection process would the attention it needs to make it better. Here are some things you can do…