When hiring, although it is important to know a person’s acquired skills, it is probably more important to predict the person’s future performance and behavior. If you are not looking at behavior when you are interviewing you should be. Jim Collins and his team laid out the principle in the book Good to Great. It is as simple as “Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” It may be simple but it’s not easy. You will need to change the way you hire people.
Here is a simple fact. I have found that many employers in Westchester County NY tend to make hiring decisions by looking at background in the industry, jobs held before, and job history. Many companies even do background checks. They spend a significant amount of time looking at a candidate’s skills and knowledge before extending an employment offer.
Fast forward. We now learn that an employee “is not working out”. The manager can’t figure out why. The employee was so bright and had all of the skills and experience. More than likely he or she was not a culture match for the company. He or she did not share the vision and values of the company. Also, the failure might have occurred because the employee did not display the knowledge that you thought he or she had. Before making the hiring decision the manager spent all of his or her time determining skills and knowledge but the employee failed because of behaviors and attitudes.
A well-executed hiring process that balances skills and behaviors will result in more successful hires. Here are some suggested steps in developing and executing your plan.
1. Begin with a clear written job description. The job description should include job duties as well as requirements for the job. If you have never written a job description you should read a book on the topic or engage the services of a professional.
2. Ask non-transparent open ended questions. The candidate should be doing most of the talking, not you and the answers to the questions should not be obvious.
3. Ask questions that probe how a candidate would behave in a situation. Behavioral based questions help you discover how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. A person’s behaviors are based on past and finding out how the applicant behaved in the past will predict how the new hire will behave at your company. Past performance predicts future performance. One example of a behavior based question would be, “Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.”
4. Use of assessment tools will help validate. Psychometric assessment tools provide objective and standardized measures of a person’s personality. Using assessment tools along with behavior based interviewing is a cost effective method of predicting how a person is likely to perform in a particular job.
Using predictive tools rather than time worn closed ended questions will help you make the correct hiring decisions the first time, reduce failure, and increase performance. You probably have a large opportunity to improve performance at your company.
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