With personnel costs taking up the largest part of an operational budget, one of the hardest things to face is to recognize that the so called "good candidate" you recently hired is, unfortunately, not a good performer. Now you're faced with the costly consequences of a hiring mistake. What's gone wrong?
On reflection, you recognize this was the one candidate whose communication skills and personal charm were superb. He answered your hypothetical questions with ease. His eye contact and apparent passion helped the interviewers to feel they were right along side of him as he explained all of his corporate adventures. He was a "fast talking salesman" who held you in his grip. After a while, the interviewers stopped making notes, simply engaging in general conversation.
The second interview requiring a panel presentation was the same. You determined that the candidate was a star and there was no need to question your judgment any further.
However, after only first three months on the job, you realize things aren't getting done. While the new employee attends meetings, takes directions and makes promises, nothing is getting accomplished. When confronted with overdue deadlines, the individual smiles and deftly talks his way out each situation. Strangely enough, when you leave his office following one of these discussions, it's you that feels guilty!
So what can an employer do to effectively ensure individuals who simply "talk a good game" can be effectively assessed and evaluated?
Today, most corporations are spending a good deal of time reviewing their recruitment and selection processes, ensuring there are checks and balances at every step and that hiring decisions can be validated. Some of the strategies being used include the following:
Competency listings - rather than focusing only on a job description, identify all of the specific skills and competencies that are required for each job, including both core competencies as well as specific technical competencies specific to each role.
Develop checklists for evaluation - screen your resumes using a checklist that incorporates the competencies. Look for specific examples of tasks and accomplishments that would signify the individual has or is applying the competencies you are interested in.
Apply a variety of sourcing strategies - use a combination of newspaper advertising, online advertising, your company website and networking to identify potential candidates. Target specific individuals in your industry and have someone contact them about your opportunity.Apply a multi-level interview strategy - one interview, individual and/or panel is not enough. Arrange for a series of interviews using multiple approaches.
Use behavioural interviewing - this technique allows you to develop specific questions that are directly related to each job competency. This method demands a response that shows you have "been there, done that."
Incorporate business simulations - simulations are effective for front line jobs as well as higher level jobs. These simulations require candidates to engage in tasks that will be similar to those found at their new work.
Apply a work style assessment - more and more organizations are requiring candidates to complete a work style, communication and/or leadership style assessment. These tools are very effective in identifying candidate strengths/weaknesses and can be used to get a well rounded picture of the candidate.
Conduct thorough reference checks - ask your candidates for references that can comment on each of their competencies. This includes a former boss, a colleague and/or someone who reported to the individual if they were a manager. Ask the referees to confirm the competencies and experiences stated by the candidate. Ask them the same behavioural questions to confirm the candidate's answers.
Seek consulting assistance - most employers have very busy schedules and don't have enough time to devote to the recruitment/selection process. Consider seeking services from an executive recruiter. They have proven processes in place and can conduct candidate research more effectively and quickly, resulting in a more cost effective process.
Preventing a hiring mistake requires a systematic and diligent recruitment/selection process. So, if you've made some hiring mistakes lately, or you are concerned that your processes are out of date, it might be time to re-evaluate how recruitment and selection is applied in your organization.