Job interviews are a lot like first dates. Nobody is really who they seem to be. They’re all putting their best feet forward in an effort to impress, enthuse, and excite employers about the possibility of finding a “perfect fit” candidate.
Welcome to reality, where nothing ever works out so perfectly.
Unfortunately, hiring the most excellent employees has very little to do with their qualifications, and a great deal to do with your hiring process. You’re the gatekeeper, and not just anybody can get into Oz and see the Wizard. No way no how.
You’ve got to develop a foolproof process that considers the most important attributes of an employee. Then you’ve got to ascertain whether or not one among dozens of candidates has those attributes in a woefully abbreviated period of time.
The good news is there are some overall maxims that will help you make a confident decision. So let’s get right to it with the 5 rules for hiring perfect-fit employees
1. Latent Talent Trumps Experience
Depending on the position, people can be trained to do a job. True aptitude, however, is a relatively rare quality. While a list of positions on a resume might look wonderful, it might also give you an inflated view of a candidate’s actual abilities.
An employee with potential, on the other hand, is an obvious and invaluable asset. These are the quick learners, the high risers, and the go getters. They are well-prepared for the interview, have stellar references, and those all-important lateral thinking skills. They can creatively circumvent even the most unforeseen circumstances, and get the job done on deadline. Look for ambition: those covetous of upward mobility, and a hunger for more responsibility.
2. Explain Job Requirements Up Front
The ability to grow in a position is important, but that doesn’t mean you should hire someone unqualified. Ideally, your perfect candidate will have both talent and experience. To find out if this is the case, you must thoroughly vet your prospects. The most important part of that process is making sure they understand exactly what’s expected of them.
This is important for two reasons. First, unclear expectations can lead to misunderstandings down the line.
Second, focusing on the job, rather than the employee, elucidates the entire process. You can write a profile of your perfect candidate, and if you’re lucky, you may find someone who matches 70 to 80 percent of your criteria. What a resume doesn’t answer though, is whether or not they can’t perform in the position.
If you focus on what’s required from a performance standpoint, in both the job description and in the interview, you can find out if a candidate has ever accomplished anything comparable to your needs.
3. Personal Involvement
This is perhaps the most important item on your itinerary. You’ve got to engage your candidates. Spend as much time as possible getting to know who they are, what they’re goals are, and how they can contribute to your company.
As we mentioned above, an hour long interview isn’t a lot of time to get a handle on someone’s personality. Multiple interviews are a tried and true practice. Talk to them on the phone before the face to face. And once they’re in the office if you smell even a whiff of talent, explore the roots of your intuition as much as your busy schedule will allow.
Split multiple in-office interviews up with other managers if possible. In the best case scenario, you can have different managers examining different aspects of the candidate’s potential: technical skill, experience, creativity, etc.
4. Compatibility With workmates/the Work Environment You’re Trying to Cultivate
One thing you can do that will go a long way in helping with number 3 is to consider how the candidate will fit into the overall work environment you’re building in the office. This can toe the line into over subjectivity, but it’s still a worthwhile practice.
Ask yourself if this person can successfully navigate office politics, work alongside the other employees without problems, and if their values align with the ones your company prioritizes.
5. Go Deeper With References
Everyone under the sun tries to load up their resumes with references that are likely to give glowing reviews. You must undoubtedly check these first, but why stop there? Ask for contact info from workmates, underlings, superiors, anyone they might have had contact day to day. You’ll likely gain some interesting insights from the results of a little extra research.
Building the perfect office environment is no easy task. You have to do so block by block, and each block has its own merits and flaws. It’s a puzzle without edges and a few extra pieces. So the only way to get it right is through painstaking care, plus a little trial and error.
Follow these 5 guidelines to get the process going.
This is first part in an ongoing series by Tanda to help business owners do better business. Tanda’s mission is to make it easier for employers to create jobs and manage staff. We do this by helping managers understand and reduce staff costs. Our product features include rostering, time-clocks and award interpretation.