Five Strategies for Hiring Success

It’s never been easier to find warm bodies to fill job slots. With the volume of social media and online networking and career sites, connecting with workers is only a matter of searching profiles or placing ads. However, it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish “the best” or even “adequate” choice for job openings or promotions, and making a bad hire is costly.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers estimates the average cost-per-hire in 2011 and 2012 was $5,100. Businesses with 2,500 to 5,000 employees paid the most for new hires– around $10,000 a person. Businesses employing less than 500 workers, paid the second most, around $7,500. The results were part of the NACE’s 2012 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey. Obviously it pays for businesses to capitalize on new hires, which leads to the question, what is the best way to hire the right people?

Most people agree that an interview can only garner so much information about an applicant.Interviews are a bit like first dates, and we all know how misleading those can be. Some people interview well, some people do not. Some managers are good interviewers, some aren’t.

A study published in the American Sociological Review in 2012 found that the majority of employers hire new employees based on how similar the applicant is to themselves. The room for error in such a system is vast. What if you have an introvert interviewing candidates for a sales manager position; or an extrovert interviewing people for an analyst’s position? Would they be able to pick the best person for the job, or would they be drawn to familiarity– someone similar to themselves- and perhaps not best suited for that job?

Or here’s a twist- do generational differences influence hiring practices? As sure as parents and grandparents shake their heads at their children, I’m sure many hiring managers might be put off with the social norms and working styles of recent college graduates.

The key to finding the right people for the right job is to approach hiring empirically with a sound strategy. The employer must create an actionable, repeatable process for screening new applicants and placing them within the business. Here are five strategies to help you improve the way you hire new employees.

1) Create a detailed job description. This is such an important and often overlooked step. It is critical to write a detailed job description for the position you are looking to fill- listing specific skills, responsibilities, and time and energy requirements. I’ve counseled some businesses frustrated with an underperforming worker, and after some discussion, I realized they never gave that person a clear job description. No wonder they were underperforming, they weren’t clear on what they were supposed to be doing!

2) Review both the resume AND social and networking media outlets. I think the veil is quickly being lifted on this one. Just a few years ago, people were still unsure about the separation of Facebook and workplace. However, with the popularly of career-focused social media outlets like LinkedIn and Monster, it’s both convenient and ethical to check people’s history, references, profiles and online activity, without concerns of violating their privacy.

3) Divide and conquer. To offset the impact of hiring bias, have multiple people interview potential new hires. Prepare each person with their own set of questions and have them interview the candidate in different environments. This will allow the group to gather more diverse and complete information on the applicant.

4) Top and bottom performance analysis. The best way to hire or promote top performers is first to understand your current top performers. Creating a baseline between the top and bottom performers puts you in a powerful position to predict success and identify the best possible candidates.

5) Employee assessments. People regularly hire new employees based on intuition and similarities, instead of actual emotional, psychological and behavioral aptitudes for a job. Consider using an objective and comprehensive assessment as part of the hiring process for the top finalists.Assessments give the employer a more complete view of what to expect in terms of performance, energy levels and personality traits. Once the person is hired, then the report can be further used as a development plan.

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