How to hire the right people – A quick lesson

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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September 12, 2013

School’s back in session, but unfortunately, one of the things our kids won’t be taught is how to hire the right people. It’s a shame, because someday it’s likely going to be a part of many of their jobs.

Most kids are hired at some point during their educational lives and are possibly taught how to interview – although there’s a significant difference between an interview at Cinnabon and one at Google. But no one talks about them hiring someone.

In the “real” world, you basically have to learn on the job. And it usually takes time before you feel comfortable – if you ever do. What you learn (hopefully) is that hiring the right person takes a lot of time and effort and anyone who says it doesn’t, or that it can be done through technology, is lying.

So here are a few quick lessons on hiring the right person to get you started. I suggest you share this and anything similar with those working their way up. The sooner they learn how to hire the right people, the better for them and the company they are working for.

  • Preparation – This is probably the key problem with a lot of interviews. The person interviewing is likely either a very busy person, or someone ‘volunteered’ to interview job candidates. Even recruiters sometimes are so busy and focused on multiple jobs that they forget to properly prepare for an interview. This is critical to get the most out of the interview and to ensure you don’t miss a great hire.
  • Behavioral or Situational vs. Qualifying Questions – This is not easy to remember during the interview, but the key here is to understand how to ask a question that prompts the candidate to talk about how they handled different situations not just their list of qualifications. It’s the difference between asking, “What did you do in that role,” (looking for basic qualifications) and the more behavioral, “Tell me about a time when you had to develop code in a very short timeframe,” that gives them an opportunity to demonstrate how they approached a problem. It’s not a natural way to ask questions, but it’s important.
  • Talk Less/Listen More – I’m guilty of this. Sometimes as the interviewer, you want to tell them everything about yourself, the company and anything that has happened that day – But resist. Be friendly, but you should talk less than the candidate. And if you’re like me, you need a small note that simply says, “Listen more.”
  • Empathy – This may sound weird, but if you have no frame of reference for the person being interviewed and no understanding of their situation, you might fall prey to a snap judgment about them. I say this particularly for those who have been unemployed for some time who may have been through a tumultuous couple of years since the Great Recession. One good way is to ask how other interviews are going (or went) and watch their expression and body language. Or talk about something unrelated to the position and put them at ease. It may seem like waste of time, but remember you are not trying to hire anyone – you are trying to hire the right person.

That last point is the key to keep in mind. Forget the stuff above if you are just interested in hiring anyone. Your goal should be to hire the right person.

Like many of the things you do learn in school, it takes practice, some good notes and a willingness to try your best. It pays off when you do hire the right person and (hopefully) that person goes on to hire other great people for your company.

Topics: HR Strategies, Recruiting Trends, Hiring Tips

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