Good News

Who Do You Want to Hire?

Who Do You Want to Work For?

Information From Our President

In a recent article for ERE News hiring consultant Lou Adler said that studies show that only about 50% of new hires work out.  That’s pretty scary.  Because so many companies today are on the ‘lean’ bandwagon managers must frequently jump through many more hoops than ever before to get a new hire approved.  Once they have justified and defended the need internally they often must put Candidates through more tests, interviews, and procedures than even existed just a few years ago.  How depressing it must be to know that, after all that, they still have only a 50/50 chance of the new hire working out.


On the flip side our real world experience, and periodic editorial reinforcement, tells us that a majority of executives have indicated when asked that they would be interested in exploring another opportunity.  Some authorities have said that as many of 75% of those polled would look.  That’s also pretty alarming.


A lot of companies end up making erroneous hiring decisions and a lot of people don’t get the jobs they would like to have.  From an Executive Recruiter’s perspective, of course, that isn’t all bad.  If there were no turn-over we’d have a lot less business.  There is plenty of demand for our service, though, and we really would like to see things work out.  A couple of decades of experience and observation have taught us some things about how companies can make better hiring decisions and how Candidates can get the jobs they want.


Hiring errors most frequently are due to one of three causes:


  1. The person who is the best interview is selected.

  2. Screening according to wrong criteria.

  3. Culture mismatch.


What can be done about this?


The person who is the best interview is selected.


Research shows that only one-third of the best employees present well, and two-thirds of those that present well aren't top employees.   This is because the candidate who interviews best is, unfortunately, the one who is most likely to be pursued and hired.  Yet the factors that enable a person to make a good impression in interviews are seldom those that predict actual success on the job.


Whether we want to admit it or not a person’s physical appearance is going to impact our evaluation of them dramatically.  Even though almost all of us know a number of superior performers who we would never put in the company TV commercial or in a beauty pageant we are all vulnerable to what interviewers call the ‘halo effect’.  We are blinded by their halo or their prestigious academic qualifications, previous employment with a top company, physical presentation, or some perceived common denominator.  We sometimes just flat out like them.  We then overlook facts and input that would tell us that they are not necessarily the best hire despite being the best interview.


This is a relatively easy mistake to correct once we are aware of it.  If we force ourselves to suspend all judgment of a Candidate until we have spent at least a half hour listening to them we will often begin to see beyond the halo.  Simply asking ourselves if we are hiring the best interviewer or the best Candidate for the job can even be enough.


Screening according to wrong criteria


We all want to hire people who are going to be at least as good at the job as the previous, or current, person.  Usually we want to hire someone who is going to perform better.  So what do we do?  No brainer, right?  We establish minimum academic or experience credentials at or above previous job holder levels.  If the job has been done by someone with an undergraduate degree, we require graduate level achievement.  If the last person had 4 years of experience, we now want 6-10.  Wrong!


Yes, it is appropriate to want the job filled as well or better than has previously been the case.  Years of experience, academic achievements, or accreditations earned are seldom accurate predictors, though.  Instead, we need to determine what the successful person will need to do in the job.  We then should conduct our interviews so that we probe, in detail, to find the people who have done these things or who have demonstrated by related accomplishments that they can and will do what we need done.


One successful executive we know maintains that his ‘one question interview’ gets this done for him.  He establishes his minimum interview criteria at a true base minimum required to understand how to do the job.  He then asks his ‘one question’.  He asks the Candidate to tell describe their greatest accomplishments in detail.  Probing into these shows if the person has done things that will enable them to do his job and whether they have shown the willingness to do what needs to get results.


Culture Mismatch


Just hire for the job and make sure you don’t simply hire based on surface appeal.  That kind of summarizes the previous points.  Wouldn’t it be simple if that was all we had to do?  Sure, but it’s not.  Most of us spend the majority of our working hours at our jobs.  As a natural result even many of those hours that are not on the job are spent with people we work with.  We golf, we fish, we go to sporting events, and we socialize with people from work.  If we don’t feel that we have anything in common with them ‘job dissatisfaction’ is bound to hit sooner or later.  Sure, some of us keep things compartmentalized and maintain those two totally separate worlds but the reality is that most of us don’t.


That doesn’t mean that should hire clones.  Refer back to point one.  That’s not desirable or practicable in today’s modern and increasingly diverse workplace.  Acknowledge it, though, if your organization is filled with people who regularly work until 7PM or so.  Don’t hire the otherwise excellent Candidate who, because of other life commitments or interests, will be at home every day by 5:30.  There will be a gap that will never be gulfed.


Look for the culture match.  A mismatch is one of the most frequently cited reasons for dissatisfaction and job change.


Who Do You Want to Work For?


Sooner or later most of us, from CEO to secretary, are on the job seeker side.  We also can impact the bad hire/turnover cycle by being aware of these 3 factors and dealing with them:


  1.  The person who is the best interview is selected.

  2. Screening according to wrong criteria

  3. Culture mismatch.


The person who is the best interview is selected


Boy, is this a simple one.  Be the best interview.  Period.  Forget that stuff like, “My experience speaks for itself.”  “Watch what I do, not what I say.”  “This is the way I dress and present myself when I work.  I’m not going to change, so this is how I will interview.”  “I’m just not a very outgoing person, but I’m a great worker.”


Companies do and will continue to hire the best interviews.  If you are going to have the choice of whether or not to go to work where you wish then you must be a great interview.  Do your homework.  Know something about the company, job, and the other person.  Don’t expect your record or resume to speak for you.  Frequently the person with whom you are meeting hasn’t has done little more than scan that anyway.  Be prepared to present and represent yourself directly.  Be prepared to do it repeatedly without tiring of the repetition.  Be aware of the impact of your appearance and oral communication.  Are people who allow these things to impact hiring decisions shallow people?  No.  They are people.  Give them a chance to know you by making sure your presentation doesn’t get in their way but, instead advances your case.


Screening according to wrong criteria


First, listen.  Find what they need done.  Determine the accountabilities.  Help the people who are interviewing you to focus on the job and your ability to do it.  Do this by asking what performance they expect and show them, very specifically, how you can deliver that.  Be prepared to discuss, in detail, what you have done that relates to what they need done.  Be prepared, too, to show why you are confident in your ability to do what you haven’t done.  Simply stating that you can do it or saying that your previous experience will enable you to do it isn’t enough.  Relate specific, relative, experiences.


A lot of the decision about who will get the offer will based on attitude.  Make sure that everything you do and say during the interviewing process sends positive attitude messages.  If you wait until you know everything there is to know about the company and the job before you show enthusiasm and genuine interest you will be too late.  Start out that way.  If you later decide that it isn’t right for you, that’s alright.  You won’t have the decision to make if you wait.


Culture Mismatch


A perceived culture mismatch by job candidates is one of the most common job search errors.  Don’t attempt to figure out the entire corporate culture from one or two interviewers.  In many instances you are judging them based on their personas.  You don’t want your abilities as a professional to be judged based on your skill as an interviewer.  You should also not try to determine what it is like to work at a company based on what it is like to interview there.  You can make mistakes both ways by doing so.  You may think it is a great place to work because they are great interviewers or you may feel the opposite.


Instead, pursue the job.  Determine what it is that is to be done.  Determine and persuade them that you can, and want to do it.


Examine and judge the culture match after the job match and be opened minded about it.  Just because an environment is different doesn’t mean that it is bad or wrong.  If there are critical areas of conflict explore and resolve them before accepting employment.  Don’t wait until you work there to explore or discuss them just don’t let apparent conflicts keep you from getting enough information to see that you can make the manageable.


These ideas will help more of our Customers hire the people they want to hire and get the jobs they want to get.  There will still be lots of jobs out there for us to fill and lots of people who want and need better opportunities.  That is a win-win world for all of us.  Isn’t that, after all, what the recruiting/job search world should be all about, anyway?