BEST HIRING PRACTICES – TOP QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Table of Contents
A lot goes into hiring and there is good reason for that. People are after all a company’s most important asset. This guide should help you understand what areas make sense for you to focus on for your business.
1. WHY SHOULD THE APPLICANT WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
This question is many times forgotten as a best hiring practice. Every job candidate is going to want to know why business A vs. business B? The importance of selling the companies unique selling proposition early and often in the application process is critical to hiring top talent. When you evaluate most application processes, candidates are asked to answer text-based questions for 20-90 minutes before they are told why they should be interested in working for the company. Today’s applicants are less interested in text and more interested in video. Today’s applicants use video in all of their other web experiences and throughout their social media usage. So why shouldn’t the hiring process utilize the same media that everything else does. Job posts that utilize video will see an increase in candidates entering your hiring process and sticking with the hiring process throughout the questions being asked.
A. Use video to tell your company’s story.
Candidates want to know about the company they might be joining. Video is an excellent way to present the organization to candidates. And the more interactive the video, the more engaged the candidates will be.
B. Have employee testimonials throughout the application process.
Candidates will trust other employees before they trust the “organization” and its senior leadership team. Candidates want to know the employee’s perspective and whether it truly matches the social persona of the organization. So, the more employee-based information is included in the information given to candidates the better it will be believed.
2. HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT IF THE CANDIDATE CAN PERFORM THE JOB PRIOR TO HIRING?
A. There is no one magic wand that will predict how successful a candidate will be once hired.
During the hiring phase multiple data points should be collected across a variety of skills. One major requirement to making a good hiring decision is to know exactly what skills, abilities, knowledges, and other factors (KSAOs) are necessary for success. Then you find assessments that validly, and fairly, measure those KSAO’s. While no one assessment will measure skills, and job fit, and organizational fit, some types of assessment are much better than others when it comes to predicting success on the job. The requirements for any job can be broken down into 3-4 major categories: Academic skills, Technical Skills, “Soft Skills”, and fit/motivation. Contrary to what many people believe the interview is actually very poor at predicting success and evaluating these major success factors. Everyone knows that a person won’t be hired without an interview, but the use of assessments can make the interview and hiring process much more accurate. Use assessments as a best hiring practice to gauge the candidate’s ability to perform the job function.
B. When choosing the right assessment make sure to evaluate the validity/predictability of the assessment, as well as the fairness of the instrument.
Not all assessments are created equally. Following are criteria to evaluate when choosing the best assessments to use.
i. Soft Skills – ensure the system uses video. This helps eliminate the need for reading and makes the assessment fairer. For example, if someone is responding to a text-based question and gets the question wrong, is it because they don’t have the skill needed, or is it because they could not read well.
ii. Personality – personality assessments are based off self-report answers and are sometimes easy to fake. There are traditionally no right or wrong answers. When evaluating personality assessments make sure that the context of the questions being asked is workplace based versus general.
iii. Specific hard/academic skills – These assessments are the easiest to evaluate, although not all academic skills tests are the same. Look for tests that are practical and focus on workplace situations versus traditional school-based content. For example, instead of asking if a person can multiply 8*40 ask the question “if an employee works and 8-hour shift and produces 40 widgets how many widgets per day will he/she produce?”
iv. Company fit – these is the topic where the interviewer must evaluate. It is difficult to ensure company fit from a testing standpoint because there are no real right or wrong answers. It comes down to preferences and organizational culture. One way in which tests have been developed is as follows: An organization can “profile” itself to determine its culture. Those same factors can then be asked of incoming applicants to see how much of a match there is between the environment that the applicant wants and the culture of the organization.
3. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A RESUME?
A. Resumes are probably the oldest but still most used tool for companies to review job candidates. In addition to being one of the most used hiring tools, they are also one of the least reliable tools. In general, people tend to exaggerate on their resumes, and only include what they know how to do which says nothing about what someone hasn’t experienced or what they don’t know. Also, there is no standardized resume content/form so sometimes it is very difficult to compare people’s resumes against each other. And with today’s resume services making them look professional is easy for the applicant and really doesn’t say as much about them as it used to.
B. Given that resumes will still be evaluated by hiring managers and recruiters there are in fact some things to look for as best hiring practices. Here are some tricks to make the resume review and assessment much more accurate and efficient:
i. In today’s times most applicants will “customize” their resume based on the job and requirements of the job. Therefore, the more specific as to what the company values and is looking for the better. If those necessary skills are published look for key words and experiences in the resume that include those concepts.
ii. One of the problems with resumes is that the review of them appears to be subjective. In other words, two different recruiters could read the same resume and come to two different conclusions. Therefore, having a standardized process for reviewing resumes and definition of review criteria is very helpful. For high-volume positions, use technology to increase objectivity and efficiency.
iii. Be sure your entire team of hiring managers is skilled in reviewing a resume. Periodic best practices meetings on hiring should be a part of your process if they aren’t already.
iv. One revolutionary way to make the resume screen much more effective is to create a process that collects all the same data from all applicants instead of a free-form resume. Essentially, create a resume builder for each applicant to complete that asks the exact questions you are interested in having answered. This way every person is being evaluated against the same criteria.
4. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CHECK REFERENCES?
A. Depending on how reference checks are done, they can become a great source of information in the final stages of the hiring process. And reference checks should always be one of the last steps because they are time consuming and you don’t want to do more of them than needed. Obviously, most candidates are going to provide references that they think will give them a good review. So, it becomes imperative that you can “dig deep” with your questions in order to get to the underlying skills of the individual.
B. When conducting reference checks doing them via a live conversation is always better than having a reference simply respond to written questions. Here are a few other best hiring practices for effectively checking references:
i. Ask for at least 3 references. The more you have the better, more complete view of the candidate you will get. Even if you don’t plan on calling all three references you can still ask for them.
ii. Realize that some organizations will not provide much detail. Some organizations are concerned about liability and therefore will simply provide hire date, termination date, and possibly whether the candidate is eligible for rehire. In these cases, it’s not too valuable a reference.
iii. Don’t ask lay-up, or closed-ended questions! Think about what you want to learn about the candidate and ask open ended questions around that specific topic.
iv. Try to disguise what you are actually trying to evaluate. For example, if you want to find out a weakness of someone simply ask the previous manager how you should coach them once they start the job. Ask what coaching the candidate would benefit most from, etc.
v. Check for any obvious red flags (related parties, people caught off guard by the request, etc.).
vi. Use social media to possibly find mutual connections to someone in the organization. These connections may be able to provide some additional insight into the behaviors of the individual.
5. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO INTERVIEW?
A. A well-constructed and executed interview can provide good data to help in making quality hiring decisions. Conversely, a poorly designed or executed interview may actually hurt the organization because it will lead to a poor hiring decision.
B. Depending on the job position, the actual interview questions would obviously vary greatly. However, generally speaking, there are a few guidelines you should always employ during your interviews as best hiring practices:
i. Don’t do all the talking. Sometimes it is easier for a hiring manager to talk rather than ask the questions. This normally happens with unseasoned managers but totally defeats the purpose of the interview. Be prepared with your questions and keep the interview somewhat formal.
ii. Take your time. Many top interviewers will allot 3 hours to speak with a candidate. The reason for this is because the more you talk and get to know the candidate, the more they will open up and you can dig in deeper. This is especially true with an important hire and probably not realistic for high volume hiring positions.
iii. Ask the difficult questions. Be graceful and empathetic but don’t rush through the tough questions. For instance, if there is a gap in the resume, ask about it. Don’t be afraid to keep peeling back the onion as it is often the case that one question leads to another that leads to a discovery of something really compelling or something that is a red flag that should be considered.
C. The quality of questions asked also makes a difference and there are best practices to follow when it comes to the content in an interview. One of the best predictors of future performance is past performance and the questions in the interview should be geared at uncovering what a candidate has done in the past.
i. Use behaviorally-based questions. These types of questions ask the person to describe real situations that they have encountered in the past, along with how they responded to the situation.
ii. Avoid making assumptions that certain past experiences automatically mean someone will succeed. For example, not all people that play college sports make good leaders. Focus the questions on what skills you think people pick up playing college sports and ask about them specifically.
iii. There are things that can be measured during the interview that related to all questions. An easy example is the evaluation of someone’s oral communication skills. There isn’t a specific question in the interview asking about oral communication but the candidate speaks for every answer they give. Quantify and use that information in the overall evaluation.
6. WHAT DO BACKGROUND CHECKS LOOK FOR?
A. Whether you need to perform a background check or not depends on the situation and the job function. For example, companies that hire bank tellers conduct a background check to ensure that no finance related crimes (i.e., writing bad checks) are on the person’s record. Like reference checks, background checks often happen at the end of the hiring process. In this way time is not wasted checking into candidates that don’t end up getting the job.
B. Today, background checks go beyond the traditional perception of what they used to be. Social media has opened up a new type of background check that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
C. Different companies have very different needs and philosophies surrounding the use of background checks. Some checks are mandated by law (i.e., someone who needs a particular security clearance) and some just make the company feel better about who they are hiring. Here’s a simple list of what a background check normally looks for as best hiring practices:
i. Social media imprint. Depending on the job function, you want to be sure the candidate is a good representation of your brand.
ii. Criminal records.
iv. Credit history
v. Driving record
7. WHAT ROLE DOES THE JOB APPLICATION PLAY IN THE HIRING PROCESS?
A. For all companies the job application is often the first impression that a candidate gets from the company (beyond all the marketing material on their web site). The job application can leave a good impression for the candidate or a bad impression which in turn helps the candidate decide whether they want to continue into the hiring process or not.
B. The job application process has not changed in many years. New technologies have been introduced to allow for applications to be completed online versus on paper but the intent and use of that information is the same as it always has been. Traditionally the job application has focused on only giving the organization information and has provided nothing to the applicant. Today, companies should re-evaluate the job application’s role and focus on ensuring that job candidates also receive something out of the process.
C. For some companies the job application plays a large role and for others, they simply ask for a resume and therefore it plays little or no role. Here are 8 best hiring practices for using a job application:
i. Use the job application to collect good data you can use in the decision making process at the time. A lot of information on the job application is not looked at before deciding whether the applicant progresses to the next step in the process. If there is information you can collect later depending on if they qualify for the job or not, then collect it AFTER the application.
ii. Make it simple. If they have to register for an applicant tracking system to apply, you have already lost potential top-performers who simply aren’t willing to register upfront. The application needs to cater more to the candidate versus the recruiter and the company.
iii. Treat your applicant like they are your customer – many times they are.
iv. Use the application as a means to showcase your companies value proposition to all candidates early in the hiring process. The earlier the candidate understands what’s in it for them the more time savings will be seen by both the applicant and the company.
v. Use the application to quickly and efficiently identify top performers. Once identified, let them know they are a top candidate and get them to the next step quickly. Most likely, your potential top-performers will be identified by your competition, so it is critical to engage them quickly and effectively.
vi. Use video-based job applications when possible. This will speed up the process and allow for better data collection. Video is also what the candidates like and want when they utilize the web for anything. Why not give applicants what they want in terms of a process and presentation of information.
vii. Allow the applicant to self-select themselves out the process when it becomes apparent the job or company isn’t a fit for them. Likewise, create a system whereby you can select them out of the process when they don’t meet specific job requirements. When this is done early in the application process everyone is happier versus when a lot of time and energy has been invested.
viii. Lastly, communicate quickly. Let them know where they stand and don’t allow for them to think that when they clicked submit that their application went into a black hole.
8. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO USE REFERRALS WHEN HIRING?
A. Simply put, it has been proven that referrals typically are a better fit, stay longer and overall are happier. Why is it a best hiring practice and how do you get more of them?
i. First and foremost, they are being referred by a happy associate and the associate has skin in the game as in reputation skin to make sure the person being referred is a good fit and can do the job.
ii. There is a trust transference that occurs when a known associate who is good at their job recommends someone to join the organization.
iii. Using referral can significantly lower the overall cost of attracting new talent. A fair referral program is far less expensive then recruiters, job boards and other hiring services.
iv. In order to get more referrals, create an application process that your employees will feel good about asking their network to engage with. For example, if your current application process is 90 minutes long and only text-based then your employees will not promote the jobs as much as something that is 5-6 minutes, interactive, and uses video.
9. HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE BETTER FIT CANDIDATES?
A. Building a system of prioritizing better fit applicants is vital to hiring top performers and most certainly a best hiring practice. Traditionally companies struggle because they are spending equal time with low probability candidates as they are with high probability candidates early in the application process. Systems need to be put in place that help recruiters and hiring managers differentiate between high probability candidates and low probability candidates so they can make the most efficient use of their time. Here are some tips to help accomplish this:
i. Use technology. A technology tool that helps you in this process is crucial. It is extremely important to use the right technology so do your research and find something that will give you better data and speed up the process.
ii. Train your hiring managers on how to identify the better fit candidates. It all starts there with many companies and if it takes too long, they won’t be available.
iii. Use an interview system that works for your hiring managers but gets the applicants in front of the hiring manager quickly.
iv. Be sure the hiring managers understand the process as well as the candidates. Effectively communicating the process for hiring helps keep the candidate engaged.
v. Communicate with the candidates often and early. Meaningful messages to the high probability candidates keeps them engaged in the process and interested in progressing through the whole hiring process.
10. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR HIRING PROCESSES ENSURE THERE ISN’T RACE OR GENDER DISPARITY IN HIRING?
A. Every business needs to make sure they have a hiring process that uses fair and valid systems to ensure they aren’t discriminating against any population sub-groups as a best hiring practice. With fair and valid assessments and processes the company is able to hire the best candidates, and all candidates are treated fairly. Good assessment data is one way that companies can help address the social injustices that are happening in business all the time. Here are a few best practices:
i. Use assessments that have been statistically proven to predict performance on the job. In addition, the assessment should have a proven track record showing that there is no disparate impact as a result of using the assessment.
ii. Evaluate the assessment publisher/creator to make sure they have the credentials to create fair and valid tests.
iii. Use the results from valid assessments consistently. In other words, don’t have different sets of criteria for different sub-groups in the population.