Hiring smart comes down to more than just HR basics. Yes, a hiring manager is typically proficient in identifying candidates with the right knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for a particular position. However, she or he often overlook issues beyond KSAs that are equally important in the hiring process:
- Does the candidate understand and have a commitment to the company’s mission and values?
- Has the company assessed specific department issues – how the department helps to achieve the company’s mission and unique aspects of the department environment?
- Has the direct supervisor evaluated her or his management pet peeves and incorporated them into the interview process?
Failure to take these additional questions into consideration during the interview and hiring process is a central reason for so many bad hires. Here’s how you can incorporate PersuasionPoint’s methodology for a smarter hiring process:
1. Be outspoken about your company’s personality.
Too often, hiring managers are reluctant to share the good, bad, and ugly about their work environment. It’s a lot like how people filter themselves when first dating. We’ve all been there:
He’s thinking, “I don’t want to tell her that I live with my mom.”
She’s thinking, “Should I order the salad or the burger? I don’t want him to think I’m a big eater!” (in my opinion, you should always go for the burger!)
The problem is that as the relationship progresses, the reality of his living arrangement and her love of a good burger will be revealed. Why not be up front so that each side knows what they’re getting into from the very beginning? This doesn’t mean you focus on the negatives, it means you embrace the reality – you be you, and you’ll find someone who appreciates the real you.
Just like with dating, there’s no reason for you to pretend your company is something it’s not. If your organization is mission-driven and you need people to live and breathe that mission in order to succeed, say so. If you’re a startup, make sure candidates understand that employees are expected to wear a number of hats and that someone who needs a lot of structure might find your company unappealing. Don’t get me wrong: there’s no need to air all your dirty laundry – but without vital information about your company reality, a candidate will make assumptions that could end up wasting your time and theirs. And to be clear, I’m not talking about a “culture fit,” but instead about arming everyone with candid information during the dance that is the interview process. Without sharing this information openly, there’s a good chance you’ll end up dancing to different tunes that just don’t jibe.
2. Speak honestly about the department’s role in the company mission and purpose.
Hiring managers sometimes fail to explain how a particular department fits into the company’s overall business model. I saw this mistake play out on an assignment for a nonprofit agency. I was hired to address performance issues with the entity’s development (fundraising) department coordinator. The organization received 100% of its funding from private donors, meaning that the nonprofit couldn’t exist without this critical department. The coordinator had the KSAs required for the job and was clearly devoted to the altruistic organizational mission, but she didn’t seem to grasp how vital the fundraising arm was to the organization. She therefore didn’t understand that meeting deadlines and staying in close contact with donors was crucial to the organization’s survival.
I worked with the Director of Development to craft a message that clarified for the employee how the department fit into the organization’s lifeblood. Although some of these issues were present in a vague manner as part of overall expectations, it was especially vital to specify the department’s role here since the employee’s failure to perform these tasks could end in disaster for the entire organization. The problem was resolved once the employee understood this, but it would have been much more effective to have such discussions at the interview stage.
3. Candidly explore your own management pt peeves and share with me with candidates.
We all have them – professional pet peeves. Do any of these ring true for you?
- You’re a stickler for punctuality.
- You hate communicating via email and prefer to have regular face-to-face meetings.
- You prefer working with employees who ask lots of questions as they complete projects (instead of taking an assignment and not checking in until they’re done).
Of course we’re all different, but the point is that the interview stage is just as much about the candidate interviewing the company as it is about the company interviewing the candidate – so it’s extremely helpful to make these pet peeves clear from the very beginning. Having this conversation provides the candidate an opportunity to evaluate whether the job aligns with what she or he seeks professionally.
Although talking about a candidate’s experience and skills is important to determine whether she can perform essential job functions, that information won’t tell you whether she’ll feel inspired working in your culture, will enhance the team and the department, and will feel valued working for someone with your pet peeves.
Next time you prepare to meet with a candidate, include this information so that everyone starts out on the same page – and you’ll exponentially increase the likelihood of making excellent hiring decisions.
Patti Perez is founder and CEO of PersuasionPoint, a modern-day consulting firm dedicated to teaching leaders and teams how to create and sustain healthy, equitable and inclusive workplace cultures. Patti is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Drama-Free Workplace (Wiley 2019), and draws from the book’s themes to provide practical, authentic, and action-oriented solutions to help companies achieve true diversity and equity, and to create environments of belonging and inclusion.
Patti and the team provide services specifically tailored to address workplace struggles with recruiting, retaining, promoting and fully valuing diverse employees – including consulting, leadership training, and boot camps for diverse attorneys who are emerging leaders.