Recruitment, Hiring, Orientation, and Retention

How can I make sure I hire the right person?

If managers are filling an entry-level position, they should talk to the candidate about his or her accomplishments at school.

Ask candidates, "What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment." Then ask questions to determine how really significant the accomplishment was.

Need someone with lots of energy? Ask him or her about handling multiple priorities. Would this represent a problem? Ask about instances in which he or she had occasion to address tight deadlines. Maturity doesn't come with age. It is an outlook. Probe to find out about a candidate's attitudes. Ask a candidate about the most important decision he or she made and how it affected his or her life, or—better yet—if he or she could start all over, what would he or she do. If the person has visions of winning the lottery and going into business with the winning funds, you might want to look elsewhere for that steady, reliable employee you need.

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Past experience will alert you to a candidate's fit within your organization. For instance, if you are looking for a new staff member, you want to know how you and the applicant will work together. Ask the applicant, "Of all the managers you worked for, describe the supervisory methods of the one you enjoyed working for most?" Follow this question with: "You told me about the managers you best liked to work for. What were the worst?" If the applicant has had only one former supervisor, ask him or her to describe that manager's methods and how he or she felt about them.

Answers to these two questions will tell you how the candidate's style of working is congruent with yours.

Looking for someone to be either a manager or an assistant manager or with the potential to become a manager in a short period of time? Again, go back to the past to see how the individual held previous leadership positions. If the individual has had no previous management experience, ask about leadership roles in nonbusiness areas—like in school or in civic groups. Ask not only if he or she handled that role but how he or she behaved in that role. You want someone not only who could handle a managerial position within your organization but whose managerial approach would fit within your organization. After all, leadership styles vary from autocratic to shared leadership.

How can I determine what the requirements are for the jobs I have to fill?

You need to talk to the previous jobholder. If there are others doing the job while you are recruiting, you should also observe them at work. Talk to them as well. Talk, too, to people with whom jobholders interact—both coworkers and customers. The more you know about the job, the clearer you are in terms of the requirements of the position you are trying to fill.

Your goal in conducting these interviews is to learn about key responsibilities, the types of problems jobholders need to solve, the interactions they have with others, the most difficult part of their job, and the skills and abilities they feel are necessary for success.

Such conversations will also enable you to determine if the job has changed since it was last filled. Previous documentation about the job may have to be changed to reflect changes in the job's responsibilities.

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Called "job analysis," this process will enable you to better identify prospective candidates for the job based on their skills and background. Skills, abilities, knowledge, and attitudes—all are critical to the success of your new hire. Each should be identified by you. Examples of technical skills and abilities are welding, drafting, accounting, list management, and copywriting. Nontechnical skills and abilities include planning, interpersonal relationship building, and decision making. While there is much that a new hire will be expected to learn once on the job, there is also information about the field he or she should bring to the company to do the work.

Attitude focuses on issues of motivation and culture. For instance, a successful salesperson has to be aggressive, to the point that he or she is willing to work on commission, and also find satisfaction in meeting daily with strangers and interacting with many different types of people. If your organization is organized around teams, you would want to hire a team player, someone who would work well within a team setting. A manager would have to be willing to share responsibility, letting employees participate in decisions, to fit best within the organization.

Once you have an understanding of the criteria important for job candidates, there is one more step. Put the information on paper, in a job description. The job description doesn't just summarize the duties and responsibilities associated with the position. It also specifies the skills and aptitude needed to do the job (education, previous training and experience, and motivation). All this information is needed to ensure that you select the right person for each job opening.

Ideally, you want to hire people today who will bring with them competencies that enable them to work for you as the job becomes more complex. Consider how the job might change. Talk to those within your organization who might have insights into how these changes affect the job. More important, how will these changes impact the competencies needed of those who hold the job?

In this way, you will have a much fuller picture of the ideal candidate for the job—a "success profile" for the present and future.

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