February 6, 2020    |    By

There are several steps in the hiring process, the most important of which can be broken down into job applications, candidate reviews, and undertaking the onboarding process.

  • Job Applications: Determining what role or skills are needed, creating job descriptions, and reviewing applications.
  • Candidate Reviews: Selecting matching candidates, conducting interviews, checking references, and reviewing evidence of a match.
  • Onboarding: This includes selecting candidates after narrowing the selection pool, and bringing the most qualified individuals into the business, and may include training or orientation processes.

Errors in any one of the major phases of hiring can result in a bad hire, which can greatly diminish workplace efficiency and success, leading to a business that is not fulfilling its full potential. As the old saying goes, any chain is only as strong as its weakest link – employees are the links in the business chain.

When conducting successful hiring processes that seek to fill the necessary roles that an organization requires, it is always best to first begin with a comprehensive understanding of what type(s) of skills are needed in order to match the correct candidate with the job position. This first step is followed by using evidence-based knowledge and best practices to ensure that all matches are thoroughly vetted and trained to meet the goals set by the company. As noted by Jeff Hyman, every company has an innate “DNA” – a corporate genetic code of sorts – and every good hire should follow a methodology that seeks to hire those who match the company DNA based on objective reasoning, experience, training, work ethic, soft skills, etc. Most incorrect hiring processes can be broken down into three major issues:

  1. Not matching the correct candidate with the current needs and skills of the business for whatever reason. This can be summed up as matching for short-term skills.
  2. Not matching the correct candidate with the company’s work culture and ideals. This can be summed up as matching for work ethic.
  3. Not matching the correct candidate with the company’s long-term goals. This can be summed up as matching for long-term scalability.

As noted by Ebi inc., there is a wide variety of factors associated with job hiring statistics, causing hiring directors to wade through hundreds of resumes over weeks or months in order to give a small pool of applicants an offer. When HR hiring managers do not match the correct candidates for a job opening, it can have disastrous results.

1. Failing To Identify Accurate Hiring Needs

One of the primary mistakes businesses make when it comes to hiring, is failing to identify the specific and accurate needs before creating a job opening and undertaking the entire hiring process. It is recommended that any businesses beginning the hiring process, first identify the talent gaps looking to be addressed which includes not only the skills and roles desired, but also the type of attitude/work culture match, and long-term skill-set growth and development, that is needed for the business to fulfill its goals.

strong>Strategic Hiring – hiring that takes long-term goals and the business model of the company into consideration – is needed for effective placement.

HR hiring managers should also know when, and if, the company needs an employee. A comprehensive overview of how the employee would fit in, both in the short term and long term, should be considered. It may also be worth noting that considerations for an internal promotion versus an external hire are worth exploring or even outsourced consultancy or temporary staffing. Of course, budgets, finances, and the long-term outlook of whether the employee would benefit the top line of the company should be considered. For instance, an IT company that specializes in marketing consultancy may want to scale their company to include A.I.-based data analytics. This company could go with a myriad of specialists to fulfill the singular job role – an A.I. engineer, a data scientist, a statistician, etc. Once the company managers determine the detailed role that they need in order to scale, they can hire either an internal engineer/scientist, an external specialist, or outsource the task to a consultant.

2. Not Utilizing Technology To Reach More Qualified Applicants

There are passive and active job seekers in the job market. Often, job offers don’t reach the correct people due to businesses using different platforms – including technological platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and the myriad of job websites. It is critical for hiring managers to take into consideration all routes of job offer platforms and to broadcast the most pertinent job offer on the correct platform in order to reach the most qualified candidate.

Social media is an especially helpful tool in spreading information to potential job candidates due to the ubiquitous “share” feature. Even if the job offer comes to the attention of someone not seeking a job, they can “share” the ad, allowing the job ad to reach a multitude of people that may have otherwise not have learned of the open position.

Technological systems such as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can also help companies feasibly manage their applicants and prospective employees.

A Great Job Ad Can Land The Right Person

Crafting the most pertinent and specific job ad is critical, and can be the difference between attracting the right applicants versus the wrong ones. For instance, in the job applicant pool, there are often “generalists” and “specialists.” If a business needs to hire someone with a broad range of skills, it would not be productive to create an ad describing the details of a specialist. It would be a waste of time and resources if a specialist applies and is interviewed, and the correct candidate (a generalist) may not apply at all due to the implication that a specialist is preferred.

The ad should be completely transparent and clear. Many hiring mistakes result in time and money being wasted and one major reason why this occurs is due to a lack of transparency, for example, on the pay rate. As noted by Ebi inc.,25 percent of job offers that are rejected are due to the pay being lower than expected. Such issues can be readily corrected if job advertisements were detailed, comprehensive, and completely transparent.

Job ads need to be honest about the work culture, hours, and business vision so that applicants know what is expected of them. While it’s important to sell the benefits/culture of the job, it’s always best, to be honest, and not “sugarcoat” the job description.

3. Less is More

While it’s important for hiring managers to reach as many qualified pools as possible, it’s also important to note that, for the interview process, less truly is more. When a company interviews a myriad of applicants, it’s easy for hiring managers to lose sight of their original need, or, even worse, to hire more applicants than needed due to viewing more qualified applicants as a better plan of action.

For instance, in the example above (the IT firm that needs to hire a data scientist with A.I. experience), the hiring managers who interview too many applicants might change their initial strategy and go over budget by coming to believe that all three types of applicants are needed, that is, an A.I. engineer, a data scientist, and a statistician.

An easy solution to this issue is greatly reducing the applicant pool after reviewing applications and only interviewing select, qualified applicants that completely match the “DNA” of the company, including the desired job role.

Save Time And Resources

It is expensive for companies to hire new personnel, so if there are ways to cut costs while still retaining the same value in the hiring process, those avenues are best to consider. One such consideration is an interview that utilizes technology, such as interviews through video conferencing services like Skype.

Typically, recruiters prefer in-office interviews, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Depending on the position type, it can be just as valuable for a company to conduct a phone interview, even if just in the initial interview stages. Phone interviews give recruiters the ability to glean all major aspects of a prospective employee’s abilities while saving money and resources. On-site interviews often entail airfare reimbursements, and the costs of hosting such an interview process, all of which aren’t required for phone/video interviews.

4. Not Planning Out The Hiring Process

Every aspect of a company’s processes should have a plan in place as its foundation before the process is implemented. The hiring process is no different. A business should never go into the hiring process without a clearly defined plan, which should include the specific details of what the company is looking for, the number of applicants sought after, the interview questions, and the long-term outlook on the hire, along with the pertinent financial data associated with the hire. The impact of all hires should have a positive financial, workplace, and skill-based outlook that should make the company better. An efficient and well-planned hiring process will typically result in the hiring of the most efficient and qualified personnel.

Great Questions Will Result in Great Hires

The interview process itself is another of the most critical aspects of the overall hiring process. Hiring managers should have a list of pertinent questions – some basic, and some detailed – that will allow them to gauge whether candidates are right for the job. Here are some interview best practices that should be followed:

A one-on-one initial interview can be conducted over the phone or via video chat in order for the hiring manager to ascertain the applicant’s pertinent skills, work history, academic history, experience, and work ethic. At this point, more broad questions can be asked that seek to, in general, probe whether the candidate is a general match. With the IT firm example, some general questions at this point can revolve around the candidate’s academic history and work experience with data science and A.I.

Next, a group or one-on-one interview can be conducted with departmental heads, directors, managers, and other organizational members to learn more about the candidate. This type of interview can be conducted in person or via video/phone chat as well. At this point, more pointed, specific questions can be asked regarding the nature of the applicant’s abilities, which should include questions that help the hiring managers know whether the applicant is a fit not only in the required skill set but in fitting within the framework of the work culture. With the IT firm example, at this point of the interview process, it helps for the hiring managers and executives to inquire about the candidate’s ability to, for instance, solve a particular problem that is pertinent to the job itself, and/or if the candidate has specific experience that is related to the long-term goals of the business. In this way, the candidate’s cognitive ability, experience, and academic qualifications can be more thoroughly vetted. Hiring managers often check with the candidate’s job references at this point.

The last step of an efficient interview process usually includes an in-person, one-on-one interview with senior leadership in a company in order for the job candidate to display whether he/she is truly a fit within the ecosystem of the organization. Questions in this interview often revolve around the work ethic of the candidate and exactly how he/she would fit in, along with testing the candidate to ensure that he/she is ready for the role that is required of them. This includes ascertaining if the prospective employee would be in need of anything in order to start (i.e. training), and/or if the candidate truly has the right soft skills and personality that would allow him/her to thrive.

Listen, Don’t Talk

While the first instinct for hiring managers is to talk, it’s better for such managers to ask questions and then listen. Oftentimes, candidates will tell all that is needed in order for hiring personnel to make the correct decision. To that end, specific questions should be asked that would allow the candidate to talk more than the recruiter, such as:

  • Tell me about yourself, and your job experience.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is a significant project you’ve worked on that is pertinent to this job?
  • Why do you want to leave (or have left) your current job?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What do you expect from this job?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • How do you handle stress and pressure?

Ultimately, the interview is for the applicant to explain him/herself, not for the recruiter to do all the talking.

Try Them Out

One of the most critical ways for a company to know that they have found the perfect candidate is for a test to be given to see if they can truly succeed in the company. A part of a project or known test can be given to test the technical and cognitive abilities of the candidate, along with whether they can work under pressure (if the test is timed), and can even help managers gauge their work ethic.

5. Not Accounting For Emotional Intelligence

One of the most overlooked aspects of the job hiring process is a search for a candidate that not only has hard skills, but also one that is adept at soft skills. Such skills include emotional intelligence, communication skills, good work ethic, punctuality, team workability, good organizational skills, and the ability to fit into the company’s culture, work ecosystem. Every employee should uphold the values and overall company vision, so it is critical that employees know how to not only work in a skilled manner but they also have a personality that fits within the framework of the company’s culture.

For instance, among qualified applicants with the requisite hard skills, they may still lack:

  • Work ethic
  • Punctuality
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to work with a team
  • Organizational skills, etc.

All of the above can greatly hurt a company if even the most skilled employee cannot work with others, cannot commit to working with others, cannot communicate critical information effectively, or cannot be on time for work. Soft skills are a crucial and necessary part of the overall equation for ensuring that the right person is the perfect “DNA” match for the required role. Among the soft skills above, communication is the most critical, as every business requires the communication of key data to thrive, survive, remain competitive, and scale. Hiring good communicators can solve many issues revolving around a lack of emotional intelligence in otherwise qualified applicants.

6. Being Too Impulsive

Recruiters sometimes go with their “gut feeling” and hire either without evidence or based on an impressive resume. This is often done without checking references, or without determining whether the applicant is truly a good fit with the company culture. That is, hiring an applicant too quickly is a large issue that can result in the wrong person being hired, time being wasted, and more money being required for the hiring of the qualified applicant that was originally desired. While recruiters may need a skilled employee quickly, issues usually arise when recruiters rush to hire someone without thoroughly vetting the applicant’s background, or undertaking the required interviews.

To avoid being impulsive, the best solution is for the hiring process to be planned ahead of time, giving recruiters ample time to undertake a comprehensive investigation regarding the search for the most qualified applicant.

7. Being Too Patient – Waiting For Perfection

While being too impulsive in the hiring process is an issue, being too patient and attempting to hire the “perfect” applicant – and thus refusing all qualified applicants beforehand – can result in time and money being wasted. Waiting for the perfect applicant and drawing out the hiring process can also result in qualified applicants looking elsewhere once recruiters want to hire them.

The best solution is for recruiters to hire the first qualified applicant that matches the skill set, work ethic, and long-term strategy that is set in place for the job role.

8. Mishandled Negotiations

While the application process and interview process(es) often go as planned, hiring processes often collapse due to failed, or mishandled, negotiations. Negotiations often include coming to an agreement on the pay rate for the employee, along with types of leave, vacation days, and performance-based compensation packages, all of which can be a deal-breaker when the perfect applicant is found. When the offer is given, it helps to listen to what the applicant wants and needs as well, so a compromise can be made.

9. Neglecting The Next Steps

After a series of interviews are conducted, companies must take due diligence to ensure that the applicant is truly the perfect fit for the company. This set of steps is often neglected, resulting in a hire that seems perfect but isn’t.

Proper Due Diligence

It is always important for recruiters to check the references of their prospective employees to learn about their track record, to determine if any future problems may arise with the applicant, and to determine if the applicant was truthful on his/her resume and in each interview.

There are many ways that background checks can be conducted, including using official legal background checks, checking social media accounts, and calling references. Some issues may arise with each, however:

  • Legal Background Checks: All police records may not be easily ascertained, especially in the case of sealed documents and many states such as California have restrictions on the types of background checks employers can run.
  • Social Media Accounts: SM accounts do not typically exist to showcase a person’s professional attitude, and thus recruiters may come to wrong conclusions if they use social media accounts without checking the applicant’s references.
  • References: every reference will have his/her own view of the applicant, and thus their bias(es) may skew the full picture of the applicant’s true abilities. Recruiters must rely on the story and narrative that the reference chooses to tell.

With each issue, there exist parallel solutions:

  • Legal Checks: Non sealed records can still reveal the nature of an applicant, assuming he/she even has a record.
  • Social Media: Social media accounts can help a recruiter determine the personality of the applicant, and though they shouldn’t be used on their own, they can be used with other factors for a recruiter to determine if the job applicant is suitable for the job.
  • References: Using a number of references – not just one – should help a recruiter paint a more full and realistic picture of the applicant. It is important to ask for both personal and professional references and to keep in mind that candidates will typically not list references that are not favorable.

Onboarding Process

According to the Society for Human Resources Development (SHRM), organizational socialization (onboarding) encompasses the process of a new employee transferring into the company as a new hire, which requires him/her to gain new knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behavior in order to succeed in the new corporate culture.

The main issue with onboarding is that there may not be a system in place for new recruits to be trained and/or smoothly transferred or set into their new roles. There may be no set “rulebook” that teaches the recruit what is expected of him/her, such that the workplace culture, communication policies, and overall business vision of the organization may remain foreign to the recruit, which will create issues with the desired smooth transfer.

An easy remedy to such an issue is providing a detailed set of “rulebooks” – or a quick training – that educates the new recruit how things are done in the company, allowing him/her to quickly adapt.

Training Your New Hire

A crucial part of helping a new recruit thrive in their new workplace is training. Very rarely does a hire come into a company with 100 percent of the requisite skills that are needed to thrive. Training sessions are necessary to help the new recruit thrive. It is also important for recruiters to recognize and identify those prospective applicants that can’t be trained (due to being too ingrained with their prior experience and being “set in their ways”) so that such hires can be avoided. This is an important point since adapting to a new workplace culture requires being malleable and flexible in order to adapt, a trait that some applicants lack. One way for recruiters to identify flexible, adaptable employees is by asking (during the interview process) whether the applicant would be willing to learn a new way to solve an old problem, and then testing him/her on that new method.

The Road To Getting The Perfect Employee

On the road to hiring the perfect employee, it’s important to remember that “perfection” doesn’t exist – excellence does. Thus, the most effective, excellent employees can be found when hiring managers take due diligence in ensuring that only the most qualified, well-matched applicants are hired into their organization. Striving for perfection is important, and thus recruiters should follow best practices to find the employee that will make their enterprise more efficient, more effective, more streamlined, and able to scale and remain competitive into the future

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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.