By Allen Raffetto*
Have you ever hired someone who performed better in the interview than on the job? Did you ever figure out what you did wrong in the hiring process? And did you ever estimate what each wrong hiring decision costs your company?
Let’s consider dollar costs. Some estimates are that the process for a new hire costs $8,000 on average – and the higher the position is on the organization chart, the more that cost increases. However, more than money is involved. The intangible costs can run somewhere between huge and priceless. What’s included in those intangibles? Mistakes, morale and lost customers lead the list.
If you can’t afford to make costly hiring mistakes and now you must hire an employee (or employees), how can you hire smarter?
Although I don’t operate a staffing business, I have helped hire thousands of people nationwide, most of whom I never met face-to-face. I can’t afford a high error rate any more than the businesses that are looking for good talent. So I select tools and procedures that will help me gain the greatest certainty and the lowest error risk in return for my professional expertise. When I assist in the whole process, my estimated “batting average” is just under 700. Have you estimated a batting average for your hiring process? Taking the time to do so is well worth it, since it will save you time, money and frustration in your future hiring endeavors.
Doing business is a process and the critical place to practice best processes is in hiring. In a way, finding good talent is like any manufacturing process. If you have the proper tools, trained tool users and a smart operational plan to reach your goal, your hiring process will produce a new hire you can then develop into a great employee.
Instead of looking at tools and features, let’s begin with the end in mind. Exactly what is your hiring goal?
To reach the desired destination, you need specific clarity about the position you think you’re aiming for. That clarity should come from a well-built position description. If you are using documents that read like a laundry list of duties ending with “and other duties as assigned,” you are not using a description of the most important factors the successful candidate must bring to the game. Begin by getting internal agreement about the primary must-have qualities for doing the job well.
With the goal now detailed in writing, let’s move back to the operational steps. What’s your plan for finding that well-qualified individual? Even if you outsource it, hiring is still your responsibility and you should have your own operational plan. Here’s what I use: I insist on three overlapping search areas. Each area is accountable for no more than one-third of the hiring decision. Why? Because it helps keep the process legal and helps avoid “falling in love” with a candidate for all the wrong reasons. Enough said!
The three search areas I incorporate into a hiring plan are history, compatibility and suitability. All three areas increase the likelihood of a successful hire. When suitability testing is added to this mix, the odds for hiring great talent increase most – approximately 25 percent. Why? Because “suitability” reveals the total fit between the position and the candidate’s knowledge, skill and personality. That means you hire a salesperson who can sell, a customer service person who can serve, a leader who can lead and a producer who is actually productive.
Too good to be true? Not at all! For example, I’ve consulted various businesses in the Twin Ports area and assessed quite a few employees. Out of curiosity, I identified a few dozen people who were recognized as highly productive workers in their diverse jobs. I took the data from their profile assessments (conducted through an 18-factor Profile Evaluation System (PES) and built a composite spreadsheet. The question: Would any of the factors show 80 percent of people’s scores clustering within three or four adjacent units on a standard nine-point scale? The short answer: The data showed eight of 18 factors met the 80 percent criterion and certain combinations provided additional developmental intelligence. Simply put, if the job requires significant productive behaviors, I now use the eight factors and their combinations to describe how suitably a candidate fits the habits of attitude that drive productive behavior.
So here’s my sound advice: You can find talented people by looking for great fits for your jobs. But your recruitment is only as good as its weakest part. Improve your recruitment process, starting with a clear goal of what the successful new hire must bring to the game. Then systematically gather your “intelligence” about the candidate’s history, compatibility and suitability. Most bad fits for newly hired employees are related to poor suitability – specifically, personality issues and poor work habits.
Improve your hiring “luck” by using the strongest tools in every part of your search.
*Allen Raffetto, Ph.D., is the founder of The Raffetto Group, which works with businesses in the Midwest and Canada to increase business operation quality and results and to mine and develop the talents of personnel.
- The intangible costs can run somewhere between huge and priceless.
- Let’s begin with the end in mind. Exactly what is your hiring goal?
- You can find talented people by looking for great fits for your jobs. But your recruitment is only as good as its weakest part.