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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021

Hiring doesn’t have to be an uncertain process!

You may recall that I promised to help you answer the following 6 questions in 2012:

  1. Who am I REALLY looking for?
  2. Where am I going to find him/her?
  3. How am I going to evaluate him/her?
  4. How am I actually going to hire him/her?
  5. How am I going to successfully “on-board” him/her?
  6. How am I going to retain him/her?

This month we are looking at:

Question 3 – How am I going to evaluate him/her?

Once you have identified a number of candidates who appear to be qualified (at least on paper), you need to evaluate them – rigorously, impartially, and uniformly. Evaluation will usually include face-to-face interviews and reference checks. It may also include psychometric assessments; criminal background, credit and education checks; and employment testing (cognitive ability, aptitude, performance, and medical, to name a few). For simplicity, we will only be considering the interview here.

The Theory

There is a lot of advice available on what to look for in a face to face interview. Warren Buffet says: “Look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

A recent Forbes Magazine article stated: “The only three true job interview questions are ‘Can you do the job?’ ‘Will you love the job?’ and ‘Can we tolerate working with you?’” Clearly these 3 deal with Ability, Motivation, and Fit.

We like to evaluate candidates on the basis of Education (the technical competence for the job), Experience (proven success in similar roles), and Fit (how they will get along in the new corporate environment). You can actually get at the first 2 items right from the resume, but the third can be much more elusive. That is why firms have traditionally hired on the basis of the first two, and fired on the basis of the third, when “gut feel” let them down.

Getting Past “Gut Feel”

Getting past relying on “gut feel” requires you to have a carefully thought-out interview, and a system for scoring. We recommend behavior-based interviews, customized to the position in question. Behaviour-based questions provide the best predictions of future behaviours (in relatively similar circumstances) because our behaviours are based on our underlying character traits, which don’t change much over time.

Thus, the question “Describe a time when you led a significant change in your organization” is much better than the hypothetical question “How would you lead a significant change in your organization?” And since behavior-based questions require the candidate to describe his/her actions in an actual past event, the answers can actually be verified in reference checks if necessary.

Next time we will look at how you assess and actually score the responses you get from your interview questions.