How many of you have gone through a selection process starting with the review of a bunch of résumés, a telephone screen followed by an in-person interview or interviews, found the “perfect” candidate, and then six months later parted ways with that person? How does that happen? What went wrong? It could be a number of things.
- Bad description of the duties and responsibilities of the position
- Lack of preparation on the part of the interviewers to understand the job requirements and the candidates capabilities or lack of capabilities in relation to job requirements
- Too much emphasis on “looking good” versus “being good”
- Too much emphasis on technical skills versus behavioral skills
- Inability of interviewers to make “data-based” ratings of candidates and knowing how to have a factual versus emotional discussion of the candidates
- Being willing to satisfice versus changing the job requirements or reopening the search
Let’s look at these six different issues and how they impinge on our ability to find “the perfect candidate,” and still feel that way six months later.
- Bad job descriptions. Most people see coming up with a job description as a pain in the neck requirement that has to be done to start a selection process. If this is a replacement position, this is an “opportunity” to have a discussion about whether the role has changed or if you want it to change. Now is the time to have a conversation about what the position is supposed to accomplish. If you are not crystal clear about what everyone wants in the role, how are you ever going to determine whether your candidates possess those skills?
- Lack of Preparation. I have written about this before. There is no acceptable excuse for why an interviewer has not studied each résumé and identified areas in the résumé to explore in the interview. There is no reason why the questions you ask each candidate aren’t prepared in advance and related to the skills in the job description. Anyone who asks, “So tell me about yourself ….” is clearly unprepared for this or any interview.
- Looking good versus being good. I sometimes call this the “empty suit effect.” A colleague of mine, Scott Eblin, wrote a column for Government Executive on April 23 entitled, “What’s the Difference Between Executive Presence and Leadership Presence?” Looking the part sometimes helps a person “break the ice” in a situation. If you can’t support that with the skills required for the job, then you have a real problem. That may be your six-month wonder. The person looks the part and then he opens his mouth.
- Technical skills versus behavioral skills. I often tell organizations that people too often get hired for technical skills and fired for a lack of behavioral skills. If you hire a financial person because of his or her ability to do cost accounting, that is fine. If that same person is unable to work with others and the job requires developing relationships, being a team player and getting things done with others’ help, then you have a problem.
- Making data-based selection decisions. Now I am switching to the interviewer side of the equation. I wish I had a nickel for every interview debrief session that started with, “Well what did you think?” “I liked her.” Interesting, but insufficient. In God we trust, everyone else bring data. This after-interview session should involve each interviewer and the notes he or she took in the interview to describe each candidate’s answer in relation to the competency being assessed. If we need the person in this role to be a team builder, what was the specific example each candidate gave in this area, and on a scale of 1 to 5, how did you rate each candidate’s answer? In a perfect world, you have two people rating each candidate’s answers and in cases where their ratings differ by more than one point, they debate and support their answers with data from their notes until they reach consensus.
- Satisfice versus maintaining standards. Satisfice means to accept an available option as satisfactory. Too often organizations make a selection decision based on the available candidates they find. Might you be better off reopening your search and finding the person who fully meets you requirements, versus taking the “best available” and getting buyer’s remorse in six months?
The selection process does not have to be a crap shoot. Selection, like any other work activity done well, is hard work. If you keep doing the same things and keep making a number of bad selection decisions, look in the mirror for the answer.
EASI•Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI Consult’s specialties include individual assessment, online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email [email protected] or call 800.922.EASI.