Monday Mornings with Madison



Last week, we explored whether it made sense for businesses to begin hiring again. The decision to hire requires careful consideration. As business picks up, some companies — after years of layoffs, hiring freezes and no-growth policies – are considering adding again to their payrolls. Ultimately, though, every company will eventually have to hire staff at one point or another due to normal factors such as departures, family relocation, and retirement of existing staff.

The hiring process can be a daunting one. Right now, savvy companies will seek to rehire employees laid off due to budget cuts. Not only does that save the time and money of finding qualified candidates, but it also saves on the training time needed for new hires to learn company processes. Rehires hit the ground running.

However, if rehiring a former employee isn’t an option, then the search begins to find the optimal person for the opening. Finding ‘the best person for the job’ is not easy, as most HR managers can attest. Does this sound familiar? You have been struggling with a new employee. After trying different management techniques, you realize you simply hired the wrong person in the first place. You put a proverbial square peg in a round hole.

While there are no guarantees, there are steps managers can take to increase the likelihood of hiring the right candidate for the job. Here are a few tips.

1. Write a Job Description.
While it may sound easy, writing a Job Description can be difficult if the manager or HR director doesn’t know exactly what a position entails. If that’s the case, ask the person in the job to make a checklist of their daily tasks for a week. Consolidate repeated tasks into a list of duties and then add a checklist of necessary credentials, training, skills and academic degrees.

2. Consider the personality-type needed.
When writing the Job Description, consider not only the requirements of the job itself, but the people with whom that person will be working. Include that in the Job Description. For example, if a person is being hired to work for multiple departments, that person will not only need the skills to do the job but also the personality traits of flexibility, patience, and resilience in order to be able to continually prioritize and reprioritize work. If a person is being hired to coordinate all the travel arrangements of a sales team, that person not only must have a strong knowledge of travel planning, but also be detail-oriented, meticulous, highly organized and be people-centric.

3. Identify introvert vs. extrovert.
Determine if the position needs an introvert or an extrovert personality. Extroverts derive energy from other people, while people drain the introvert. Determine what personality type is the best fit for the job and remember that this has a lot to do with being in control of the flow of people-contact.

4. Align innate abilities.
Everyone has innate strengths; things they are naturally good at and do as easily as breathing. Innate strengths don’t drain energy. Innate strengths might be things like focus, ability to relate to others, harmoniousness, consensus-building, positivism, deliberateness and authenticity. There are tests to identify a person’s innate strengths. For example, Gallup’s StrengthFinders profile identifies a person’s top five talents. How does it work? Say, for instance, that a company needed someone to handle due diligence tasks. They’d want a candidate who was deliberate. A deliberate person is one who is innately cautious, doesn’t jump to conclusions and anticipates loopholes and problems. People who have jobs that align most closely with their innate strengths are more efficient, perform their job better and have more energy. It is important to identify what skills best align with a position and then hire a person with those innate strengths.

5. Measure soft skills.
Soft skills include likeability, emotional health, and self-control. Try to determine how a candidate might get along with people. Consider how well an interviewee manages his/her own emotions. Assess how the person might handle him or herself under pressure. Look for these things in the interview. How? No one is going to admit they don’t get along with others or crack under pressure. Instead, set up behavioral situations to test for this. Intentionally interrupt the candidate, or arrange disruptions, and observe what happens. Give the candidate a timed skill test and see how he/she performs under pressure. During the interview, ask yourself “Do I like this candidate?” and “Would I want to work with this person?” While most people are on their best behavior during an interview, it would be foolish to hire someone disliked in the interview process.

6. Test for skills and personality.
Don’t take a person’s word on the skills they say they possess. If an applicant claims to be a good writer, during the interview ask him/her to write a sample letter. If a candidate indicated on their resume that they are good with numbers, give them a spreadsheet to balance. If an interviewee says he is a creative marketer, have him develop a sample campaign for a product.

Also, personality traits such as irritability, complacence, dominance and curiosity show in facial gestures, tone of voice, speed of speech, body language and movements. Most managers would do well to learn more about how to read nonverbal cues during an interview. There are also personality tests that can be administered. Someone with a ”Command” personality strength may not like being given orders and would probably be a poor choice for a support position. On the other hand, that person may be an excellent group leader.

In sum, hiring today requires more than a look at credentials, experience, training and degrees. The onus is on the hirer to screen carefully. People don’t always know themselves if they are the right candidate for a job. They don’t know the company’s culture. They apply for jobs for the money, not because they’d be good at it, enjoy it, be able to tolerate its stress, or fit in with the particular culture of your office. Many apply for jobs for which they aren’t well suited. It is up to the company to ensure that they don’t put a square peg into a round hole.

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” Henry David Thoreau

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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