Your company is who staffs it. If you’re at the helm of that decision-making process, yours is no small task.
You need a candidate who gets it-someone who is quick to engage, motivate and onboard. But interviewing can be elusive, exhausting and difficult to streamline.
Still, doing everything you can to refine your hiring process behooves you and your team. A Glassdoor report, Why Workers Quit notes: “Employee turnover adds significantly to business costs, costing an average of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace workers.”
The cost is staggering, especially for small businesses. We consulted hiring pro’s to learn how they target success.
While you hope to garner a decent-sized candidate pool, it can be difficult to evaluate the flurry of responses. You want to reserve your resources for your best prospects.
Deborah Hankin, Vice President of Talent for SYPartners explains: “even before the interview, we like to use interesting and insightful questions on the online application to weed out the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Hankin cites these examples of impactful pre-screen questions: “Tell us your life’s story in a tweet” or “What’s the worst piece of business advice you’ve received and why?”
Hankin explains that conducting this initial screening gives those on the hiring side valuable insights about candidates they invite to interview. She explains: “We know you’re creative . . . We know you can write well and you have strong attention to detail because there are no typos. Plus, you were committed enough to spend the time to fill out the application properly so we feel vindicated spending the valuable time to interview you.”
More than your gut
Gut feelings are important, but hiring solely from the gut isn’t a sound practice. Mike Schultz, president at RAIN Group and best-selling author of Insight Selling routinely hires sales professionals.
Schultz explains: “Hiring sales people is especially challenging because they are supposed to be able to sell a good story. I was once told that the most difficult thing in the world is, especially when hiring sales people, telling the difference between the real deal and an articulate phony.”
How do you safeguard against “articulate phonies?” Schultz advises: “Don’t get too excited at the first articulate answer. Dig deeper. What did you do? How did that work? Why did it work? What did you try that didn’t work? How did the buyer react? Why did you win? Press. Press. Press. Often you can find the difference between the real deal and the articulate phony before you waste six months paying them. . .”
Another way Schultz assures he’s found a stellar hire is to strategically reference check. Schultz asks references these questions: “1) Would you recommend them *unconditionally* and 2) If you had a position open like the one I just described, would you hire them *enthusiastically*?”
Your gut instinct is noteworthy, but it requires a double check. Build that into your process.
Foster an approach that serves you
Work with your hiring team to arrive at an interview strategy at suits you. Schultz advises: “Coordinate the interview with the other people interviewing from your company. . . We’re a small company, but different people have different roles. We don’t ask duplicate questions.”
Schultz further recommends: “Have criteria for what ‘fit’ is and put it on a checklist. It doesn’t have to be too long, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t know when you find it (or not).”
Raissa Alliare, COO for the Center for Economic Progress also fosters a collaborative approach with her team. They establish a “Mission of the position,” which includes “Outcomes (we understand what success would like for a person in this position)” and “Competencies (soft and technical skills needed to succeed).” This way the team knows what they’re targeting.
Allaire notes another important reminder for the team: “Brief yourself on the questions not to ask from an HR standpoint.” It’s important to routinely review what’s off limits, especially during the less formal, small talk parts of the interview.
[Related: Behavioral Interview Questions Template]
It sounds simple, but interviewers should resist the urge to be too instructional. Hankin explains: “You should spend no more than 20% of the interview time explaining the position, the company or chit chatting.” Use your EQ, and give your candidates to showcase theirs.
Hankin points out: “It seems so obvious, but hiring managers tend to talk too much in interviews and miss substantive clues on whether the candidate is a great hire. Through listening you can gauge if the candidate can pick up on social cues . . . whether they listened to your question fully and answered it appropriately, or did they ramble on?”
Another key to being an engaged listener is to recognize what baggage you may bring to the conversation. Hankin advises: “Constantly be mindful of your biases. Ensure you’re asking people the same questions regardless of their age or gender.”
The Importance of non-verbal communication
It’s important to note nonverbal ways candidates communicate their personalities and interests. Allaire explains: “Body language is important. Keep in mind mismatched expressions-candidates are asked to talk about why they're passionate about the mission but their expression doesn't quite match.”
Another key non-verbal that Allaire mentions is candidate preparation. Allaire explains: “Employees have to demonstrate a passion for the mission. Candidates should do their homework and figure out how to tell a story of why they professionally or personally connect to the mission. Why us? is always a great question.”
It’s in interviewers’ best interest to pay attention to candidate preparation, as it can be an indicator of more than just potential fit. It also bodes well for retention likelihood; in fact, Glassdoor’s Employer Retention Study reveals that job candidates who use Glassdoor data to aid their searches have a 30% higher retention rate than their peers.
While it’s key for interviewees to prepare, Allaire points out that interviewers also have that obligation. She advises: “As an interviewer, it's important to remember that they are interviewing you too. So if the candidate is a viable one, you have to switch your role to selling the organization and position.”
Hone your process
Being thoughtful and systematic about your interview approach is key to your company’s success. Create a process that serves you. Communicate about it regularly, and continue to refine it with your team.