Not every leader is a born interviewer. In fact, many a leader will admit they perform well in their own interview for a new position, but are not so good at identifying their own ideal candidates. A bad hire is expensive. A bad fit is costly to the morale of existing top performers. A candidate who only interviews well and says all the right things, but is not truly interested in putting forth the effort in performing, is time consuming. But how does a leader do it? How does a leader manage to find and hire the right people for each of their valued positions? By putting these three steps into action.
The identification of the criteria for one’s ideal candidate to a vacancy goes well beyond job responsibilities. Yes, it is essential to describe the role or complete the details of an online job posting, but what will determine the success of this candidate is not their ability to simply do the minimum responsibilities. Look back into those who have held the role before and identify what worked well and what certainly didn’t. List the traits that are not found in the average job listing and consider what would make this person wildly successful. What would it take for them to be the best in this position? Let that serve as a starting point. From there identify personality traits that would be helpful, such as gets along easily with others, is engaging, is laid back, is analytical, is charismatic or more conservative, is an independent thinker, is communicative, respects authority, and/or has initiative. Once this list of desired traits and attributes has been identified it makes it far easier for the leader conducting the interview, to find them or explain them to the recruiter. Then one must also identify the other side of that story.
What attributes would seriously inhibit the success of a person performing this job function? What barriers must they be able to overcome? These are commonly called deal breakers and they can be as simple as must have adequate transportation to far lesser clarified items, such as must be willing and able to learn new product information. Deal breakers are the items that a leader is not able to change, doesn’t have time to un-train or develop, or is unwilling to subject themselves or the team to experiencing. Everyone is willing to do whatever it takes in an interview, particularly if the employment need is creating a sense of desperation, but will they do it once in the position? Hence the need to determine deal breakers. The moment one is identified in an interview, the interview is over, graciously, of course. But, deal breakers are hard to uncover with direct questions. They are at times in the gray area of interview questions one is not allowed to ask, so how does a leader find them?
Whether one uses targeted questions or a type of behavioral interviewing with situation, action, and result oriented questions, one of the easiest ways to uncover mountains of information pertinent to exceptional performance in the position is by encouraging story telling. For example: Tell me about a time when sales numbers were down and you had to pull out all the stops to improve them. Or Tell me about a time when your organization changed things and there was a lot of resistance. How did you handle it? Or Once upon a time you and your boss had a disagreement. What happened? The answers to these questions are hard for a candidate to prepare for and even harder to fake addressing sincerely. Most are not able to fabricate a story on command and will end up telling the interviewer exactly what happened along with many ancillary details which will provide additional data. Listen closely to the story even if its missing milk and cookies.
Finding and hiring the right candidate begins long before the actual interview. Finding and hiring that person isn’t about validation of what’s written on their resume, nor validation of what the leader hopes to be true and therefore directs answers to in his or her questions. The process of hiring an ideal candidate begins with identification of the ideal criteria and those items that would end a future in this company or position. Then spend the time to ask open questions specific to what is sought after and enjoy the story. With adequate preparation and clarity, the story of hiring the next top performer is much more likely have a happy ending.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who is a keynote speaker, executive coach, author and business owner. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.