A Hiring "To Do" List
PrintLink’s monthly articles discuss staffing issues from a variety of perspectives. This one walks you through each of the main steps required to a reach a rational and appropriate hiring decision, thus providing you with a comprehensive overview of the hiring process. Of course, in any interactions with people there are no guarantees. But if thoughtfully followed, the steps outlined below will help you ensure as far as possible that your new hire will constitute a valuable addition to your operation.
- Once you recognize the need to hire, define and prioritize the specific job functions and skills you need.
This initial step is critical for at least three reasons. Firstly, once you have pinpointed the job’s requirements, you can use them as your dominant selection criteria for hiring, thereby balancing the more nebulous factors of personality and subjectivity with reason. Secondly, you must clearly know the complete performance requirements of the job not only to hire but also to manage the person who fills it. And thirdly, most of the remaining steps in the list focus on ensuring that your hiring decision meets the criteria established in Step 1.
- Decide on one or more methods for sourcing candidates.
- internal postings
- referrals from staff
- print media
- Web-based job boards
- your own Web site
- generalist staffing firms
- industry-specific staffing firms like PrintLink
As in all business decisions, your main consideration in deciding among these various alternatives should be ROI—return on your investment of money and time. We believe PrintLink’s services offer clients the best human capital ROI, since our resources include an extensive database of prequalified, motivated candidates from all over North America, and a discerning staff of industry-experienced managers who will introduce you only to candidates with the specific background and qualifications you require. Similarly, we save candidates valuable time by recommending only positions that meet their career objectives, geographic targets, and compensation goals.
But hiring managers need to weigh the pros and cons of each source for themselves every time they hire; then choose the one that maximizes their own hiring processes and odds of success at filling their current needs.
- Recruit candidates.
The dictionary defines “recruiting” simply as “enlisting new members”. But effectively recruiting new staff also imposes an additional demand of quality: you must engage high-quality candidates in your selection process and make your job opportunity attractive to them. Thus hiring specialist Lou Adler wisely wrote: “The key to recruiting is to create a compelling opportunity, present it early and often, and make the candidate earn the right to have it.” This quotation underscores the fact that successful recruiting is largely about offering opportunity. Generally, top candidates are less apt to be excited by high salaries than by opportunities for professional growth and challenges. Compensation is also important because it is a measure of value, but it is just one of the components of opportunity. So usually the key to making a job attractive to the best candidates is to present the job itself as a strategic career objective. Similarly, a job has more perceived value for high achievers when it has to be earned.
Effective recruiting starts from the moment you first contact a candidate – usually with the communication of position requirements – and continues throughout the selection process. Pacing can affect your message as much as wording, so be sure to move your selection process along consistently and succinctly. Otherwise, delays can cause good candidates concern – and they will lose interest or accept an offer elsewhere.
In short, recruiting top candidates carries high stakes, and its mechanics are complicated and complex. Relying on a third-party recruitment firm can often help you articulate the attractive features of your job and your company to top performers—sometimes more convincing manner than you can it do yourself.
- Gather information you need for your hiring decision about candidates’ competency.
Scrutinize resumés first, then limit your further assessment to just a few carefully chosen candidates, utilizing one or more of the following methods:
- Telephone prescreening interviews
- One-on-one interviews (indispensable for obtaining the essential information you need to make the right hiring decision).
- Second interviews and multiple interviewers to gain more facts or specialized information about the candidate.
Multiple interviews can either occur serially or in a panel. Panel interviews are worth considering, because they may minimize emotions and give interviewers the chance to listen and think as well as to judge. They certainly save everyone’s valuable time, demonstrate the potential for future group interaction, and strengthen weaker interviewers, because their colleagues can jump in to clarify issues as needed. While some candidates may feel intimidated when sitting across the table from a "firing squad," others enjoy the objectivity of a panel interview and appreciate the opportunity it provides to meet more than one member of the prospective employer’s staff.
- Test candidates liberally.
In addition to careful review of candidates’ past performance, you may want to ask them to complete take-home projects that demonstrate their competencies, style, thinking and problem-solving abilities, and the real work they produce in tangible form. Take-home projects also help to minimize the emotional hazards and time constraints of interviews.
Specific examples of such projects include asking your top candidates to return with a presentation that “sells” the interviewers on what the candidate could do for the company. Another example is to ask candidates to prepare and present a business plan to the company's executives. Excellent candidates will readily respond with a display of their management, organizational, and presentations skills…and demonstrate that they have already acquired sufficient knowledge of your company to meet the challenge offered them.
However, if you do assign take-home projects as part of your hiring activities, remember you have not yet made a commitment to a candidate. So be fastidious in respecting the individuals’ time and make it abundantly clear that you are not trying to get free work from them or steal their creative ideas.
For hands on positions, you can easily evaluate whether candidates’ skill levels meet your requirements by testing them on your equipment and examples of your typical projects, either following the interview or at a separate time. Such practical tests confirm subjective verbal definitions of skill levels, and give candidates a feel for the type of work your company typically does.
Other means to confirm your hiring decision are personal profile or psychometric testing, for which many competent sources abound. These tools are most useful when they relate to the requirements of a specific position, when they can point out candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as suggest opportunities to capitalize on strengths and train or compensate for weaknesses—in other words, show how to maximize your human resources.
Most companies we work with utilize the same profile or psychometric test for all new hires, so that everyone is profiled the same way, thus enabling benchmarking as part of the confirmation process. We stress, however, that this type of assessment should be utilized to confirm rather than predict on-the-job performance. It should verify what you have already observed during the interview process.
Ultimately, your task is to research your hiring decision as thoroughly as possible, through a combination of interview processes and an appropriate selection of skill, cognition, and personality testing, along with reference checks. The more tools you use, the more effective your hiring decision will be. But again, if your selection process involves multiple steps, also make sure you move your top candidates through them in fairly rapid succession. Otherwise, you risk losing good candidates because the process is taking too long.
- Make and close a final offer.
The intricacies of making and closing on offer are complex and will be the subject of a future article. For now, we’ll just generalize that, in order to be effective, the process of closing a hiring agreement requires both employer and candidate to follow a protocol that fosters increasing confidence on both sides, while still allowing for fine tuning – and results in a mutually satisfying conclusion for both parties.
- Provide orientation for your new hire.
Making sure every new hire is inducted into the company appropriately gets everyone off to a good start. So don’t leave it to chance. Be sure to provide new employees with a formal orientation, beginning on or before their start date.
Also consider assigning new hires to a mentor or buddy to answer their questions and foster their full participation in the life of the company. But remember to support not only the new hire but also the staff person performing this important role as guide. With a little thought, organization, and practice, the orientation process can become as effective and integral to the success of your company as the hiring process itself.