By, Sandra L. Wiley , Boomer Consulting, Inc.
Hiring a new employee must be one of the most stressful duties that we encounter in our professional lives. We are selecting a person to not only fill a need we have within the firm, but also find someone who will fit with our culture and interact well with other team members. This is never an easy task, and quite often we make a bad decision and then have to start the entire process over again. I am of the belief that if you follow a well thought out process, your success rate will increase exponentially.
Homework and Research:
Planning is the absolute key to getting the right employee. Obviously, you need to think about what the person will be doing (the job description), identify who they will report to, who their team members will be and what type of environment they will be working within. This will all need to be determined before you ever start the advertising and interviewing stages. Boomer uses a team approach in this area. We sit down as a team and write out the job duties, identify the supervisor, and then talk about where they will be located and the kinds of equipment they will need. Then we talk about "how" they will work. Is it ok for them to be connected remotely and work from home, or should this position be stationed more in the office? Will they be working in a team situation or an independent position most of the time?
Once we all have a clear vision of what this person will be doing for us, then we move to the next step in this process and the supervisor takes a Kolbe index that identifies what instincts this person should have to be the most successful in this position. This is called the Kolbe "C" and it identifies a range of success for applicants.
We now have a vision and have identified the instincts the person must possess in order to succeed in this position. Now we are ready to move on to the advertising stage.
Advertising for Success:
The most important thing to remember about advertising is that the more places you advertise, the more likely you are to get that one GREAT applicant. Boomer advertises in the local paper (both on-line and in print), at the local University, at our local Technical College and of course by "word of mouth" through our network of professional contacts.
We always ask for a cover letter, resume and references in our advertisement. We give them the mailing address, e-mail address and walk-in address for them to submit their applications. The last time we posted a position, we received 30 applications for one position. The next step is to screen the 30 applications we have to a more manageable number.
In the initial screening process, I whittled my list form 30 to 15 applicants, and here is how:
a) I rejected anyone who did not include a cover letter and resume and references! The advertisement clearly stated that they needed to submit all three items and since I need them to be able to follow basic instruction, they must be able to follow directions. The list went from 30 to 22 in just 5 minutes.
b) I rejected anyone with a spelling error in his or her cover letter or resume! Let’s face it - this should be their best work. The list went from 22 to 15 in about 15 minutes!
c) I looked at the applicants experience and education and determined those that definitely matched the basic requirements for the job and those that did not meet the basic requirements for the job. The list went from 15 to 7 in another 15 minutes!
I now have 7 candidates that meet the basic job requirements and I am ready to move on to the next step, the initial interview.
Interview #1 - Individual:
I am excited that I have 7 candidates who are all well qualified for the position – at least on paper. Now, I need to see and hear from them in person to identify a few top candidates.
To be prepared for the interview, I have the job description with me, the Kolbe C results and a list of pre-selected questions that I will ask ALL of the candidates. I set aside at least an hour for each candidate and from the beginning try to make the person as comfortable as possible. When a candidate is relaxed and comfortable, they will interview more naturally like their true selves. Talk through all the questions you have and jot down notes. Take special care to identify if the person will feel comfortable in your environment (large or small firm) and if they are qualified for the position you have open.
At the end of the interview, if the person is well qualified for the position and they have the attributes we are seeking to fill the position, we have the candidate take the Kolbe A index. This index shows us what the individual’s personal instincts are. We will then match the Kolbe A against the Kolbe C to ensure that the candidate is a right fit for our position.
Next, I call at least 2 references. I want to ensure that what I saw in the interview is the same as they have demonstrated on the job. Although some people will tell you that when they call on references they do not get much, I have not found that to be true. Unless I ask a question that is out of line, I have had good experience getting the references to tell me about the candidates. The bottom line is – you won’t know unless you try.
At this point I have interviewed all 7 candidates and have selected 2 that have interviewed well, have the skills to perform the job duties, have Kolbe scores that fit our position, whose references are good and are excellent candidates for the next round of interviews with the team.
Interview #2 – The Team:
Aaah the anticipation is building. I have two great candidates to present to the group and I am sure this will be a tough decision.
In this stage of the process, we will have a team meeting about 30 minutes before each of the final two interviews. During this time I will fill the team in on the basic information that I have about the candidate and they will each get a copy of the person’s resume. We will talk about what the staff can and cannot ask during the team interview and we will talk about the format. In this stage, I have done my job and for the most part, I get to sit back and listen.
One of the best questions I heard from a team member during this interview session was "If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take 2 books and 2 CD’s with you (of course you have a solar powered CD player) what would they be"? There is no right or wrong answer here…. but it will tell you if they can think on their feet and it gives you insight into what they enjoy learning about. We had some VERY interesting and well thought out answers from both of our candidates.
Now, it is decision time!
The Final Decision:
The team meets and discusses the two candidates and their strengths and weaknesses. In the end, we had a very hard decision and truthfully could have hired either of our candidates for the position. We made our choice and finalized the offer the next day.
That was our process. Stressful – yes – but extremely effective. In the end, our entire team felt completely comfortable that we added a valuable team member to our staff.
Is the process perfect – no! But it is the best process we have found to getting the right team members in the right place in our company, and it can work for you also. Just follow this process the next time you are looking for a new member of your team, I believe you will be quite happy with the results!
Sandra Wiley is the Director of Marketing with the organization of Boomer Consulting, Inc. Sandra’s focus is in the area of marketing, training and sales. Prior to joining Boomer Consulting, she was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FirstBank in Manhattan, Kansas.