5 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Hire

Experiencing some buyer’s remorse with your latest hire? It’s probably your recruiting and selection process. Like most employers you have sourced candidates using various resources & methods, reviewed dozens of resumes for required and preferred competencies, experience, and skills, then phone screened, then interviewed (using behaviorally-oriented questions, of course), then maybe final interviewed and then made a decision. You set your expectations high because the candidate nailed the interview and you are confident in the criteria with which you made your selection decision. Within 60 days, the general consensus is your new hire sucks. Is this result really any wonder? The current recruiting and selection process outlined above has no proven correlation to the quality of your hire. It never has and it never will. Your good hires were based on sheer luck of the draw.

Think about it. Everyone can be a super-genius, rocket scientist with an MBA, a PhD and an MD on paper, right? Since all recruiters and hiring managers ask the same routine questions over and over in interviews, candidates have had practice crafting really good answers. And almost everyone in the world knows you bring your A-game to the interview. Combine several hours of a polished, charismatic and well-rehearsed candidate with all of the interviewer biases known to man and subjective, gut-level decision-making based on interview answers about PAST behaviors and successes, and you have a situation ripe for bad decision-making.

If you and your company are serious about spending your efforts, energy and money to hire the best and brightest, banish your antiquated recruiting and selection process today and replace it with a process that actually provides you real information and data to base your most important decisions upon.

  1. Beef up your referral sourcing methods, not only with your current employees but specifically your high-potential employees and your successful business partners and vendors. Referrals are built-in references. Not to mention no good employee wants to tarnish the reputation of the one who referred them, so you have a built-in back stop against crappy performance and behavior. Tap your high-potentials, as I suspect they run in circles with people similar to them. Don’t forget to ask your company vendors and other business partners for their referrals. Make the referral bonus meaningful determining its value position-by-position and by the level of difficulty of finding qualified candidates for that position.
  2. We live in a knowledge economy and we need knowledge workers. How do we test knowledge? Cognitive tests of course. We can train skills but we can’t increase intelligence. Also, require transcripts from your candidates transcripts will show you what classes the candidate took and their individual grades in each class. Does the candidate’s education show a history of taking challenging courses or 101 courses. Decide if you like to see candidates who have taken really hard courses and earned B’s and C’s or candidates who have taken “Rocks for Jocks” and bowling classes and earned A’s.
  3. Incorporate aptitude screening. Require work samples from your candidates. Or, for the final round of interviews, define a fictional business problem or challenge and ask the candidate to write a white paper or develop a short presentation. The interview becomes the presentation or delivery of the white paper. Interviewers base their evaluation on how well the candidate presented his of her ideas, the ideas or solutions themselves and an in-depth review of how the candidate went about preparing for the exercise.
  4. References. In my opinion, we do not give references the attention they should receive. Candidates should bring several references- character, educational and professional. HR should have a robust process around gathering reference information, crafting really good questions for references by determining what information you are looking for or is important for the job and documenting the answers.
  5. Build in a character test. I’ve read about companies that involve everyone from the driver, hotel concierge and receptionist into the interview process by creating scenarios that the candidate responds to and the interview team is provided feedback from these participants. Was the candidate courteous, respectful, professional and polished in their interactions with everyone? Or were they rude, arrogant, or discourteous when they thought no one was looking?

The current recruiting and selection methods have not proven valid. Dump them and get creative with your organization’s steps for finding quality hires.

Interviewing Your Next Employer

Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Portrait Of Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Do you have any questions for me? Almost every interviewer asks this question of a candidate. If you, the candidate, do not have any questions prepared, you are doing interviewing wrong. For a bevy of reasons, not every employer is able to  or willing to disclose or share everything about the job, the company, the culture, and the environment during the interview process, although, a good employer will try to do so. But, it is up to you, the candidate, to ask those questions and find out the answers during the interview phase.

Think of the interview not as the one-sided, fact-finding mission of the employer vetting the candidate, rather, think of the interview as a mutual invitation for the employer and candidate to determine what value each can bring the other and if both parties’ needs can be aligned for the benefit of both.

Consider asking the following questions:

  1. What is the company’s mission and vision? What are the company’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals and objectives? Companies that do strategic planning well will have clear answers to these questions. However, most companies do not do strategic planning altogether, and authority may be concentrated at the top of the executive leadership where business plans and actions may be based on as little as whims or knee-jerk reactions. These questions will help to determine where the potential employer may fall on this spectrum of reactivity or proactivity.
  2. Describe the typical flow of communication throughout the company? Or, how are corporate goals and objectives communicated to all employees? Again, companies that do strategic planning most effectively not only have a mission, vision and goals but intentionally create communication mechanisms to make sure ALL employees from their non-exempt to their management know what is going on. Clear, consistent and transparent communication from the top-down correlates with high engagement scores amongst employees.
  3. What is the purpose of this position and how does it directly relate to the company’s success? If you are going to invest 40 or more hours in a week at something, don’t you want to know the purpose and agree that it’s a purpose worth working for?
  4. What are the company’s biggest strengths and challenges? What is the biggest challenge to the position? In the business world where things change daily, good employers should have a handle on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Also, not all positions are easy peasy lemon-squeezey, there are challenges to all jobs whether they are a lack of IT systems, outdated processes or manual heavy-lifting. Employers who have an ear to the ground and a true open door policy will know the pain points of the position and should be willing to share them.
  5. What is the company’s compensation and benefits philosophy? This one will probably make most interviewers squirm because most companies do not have a philosophy. But since you already know this, the reaction to this question both verbally and non-verbally will be key to knowing how the company recognizes its employees via extrinsic rewards.
  6. How would your employees describe your management style? Here, you are looking for the managers ability to delegate not only the details but certain levels of authority. Is he or she the type of manager who is going to not only care about the outcome of your work but also be all up in your shit about how you get the work done?
  7. How is performance evaluated? Is it informal or formal? Everyone likes to know whether their performance is meeting the company objectives and their managers’ expectations. Does the company actively manage performance all year round, does the company do a once-a-year formal performance review or do they take the position of, “if you are doing well, you won’t hear anything from me but you’ll certainly know if you aren’t”.
  8. Does the company have formal succession plans? How are high-potential employees developed? Key talent can and will leave an organization for any number of planned or unplanned reasons. Find out if the company develops from within and how they do it.
  9. Does the company have a formal professional development plan? What does it look like? Find out if the employer has written and/or formal development plans for high-potential employees, if the employer funds professional designations and adult education and if the employer has internal training programs. The answers to these questions will help you find out if and how the company invests in its employees.
  10. Why is this position vacant? Why did the last incumbent leave? Many times, the employer or recruiter will already answer this question. If they do not, find out why the position is open- is it due to growth, to answer a need or to fill an opportunity area? If the position is open because the incumbent left, probe further to determine if there is something inherently bad about the position or if management is causing attrition.

Pepper these questions throughout your interview. Ask them of multiple interviewers. Jot down questions to ask interviewers so you can probe deeper or ask for clarification. Listen and observe non-verbal cues. An employer worthy to have your talent, will be eager and happy to answers these questions, will be ABLE to answers these questions and will honestly answer the questions even if the answer is less than great. The more information you can gather from the interviewers, the more information you will have to make an informed decision about an offer.