Move away from 'pulse hiring' in downturn

Saturday, February 28, 2009

We all know that hiring quality employees is important. We could say that now, more than ever, it’s critical to have the right steps in place to identify, qualify, hire and retain quality team members. But in reality, it’s always the right time for that.

Still with the downturn in the economy, we should be looking at interviewing and hiring in a new light. While unemployment is up and there are significant layoffs, we have a tremendous opportunity to grab on to some new blood for our team. Consider who is being laid-off: In most cases, they’re “B” and even “A-“candidates. This is like picking from the Major Leagues.

In a nutshell: We have the chance to move away from “pulse hiring” -  you know, “If they have a pulse, hire them.” So we need to seize the day and start interviewing.

Your greatest obstacles: a poor interviewing process, lack of assessment tools and poor communication of job description.

The increase in layoffs does change the hiring process in a few ways. First, if you don’t have a process, you need to develop one. Why? Because the caliber of candidates you may attract will be looking for such a process. This goes beyond impressing the candidate; it’s actually a proven methodology that filters out the bad from the good candidates. A good hiring process has the following:

- Quality advertising, including Web-based advertising

- Initial interview by phone

- Assessment tools

- Interviewing process involves two to three interviews

- Job description

A good interview always starts with two factors: a clear understanding of the position that is open and the requirements to fulfill that role, and a complete review of the candidate’s application and resume. Your role as the interviewer is to have completed all of this prior to the interview. Too often, we escort the candidate into our office and then ask him to give us a moment while we review his application and resume. Wrong!

Starting with a phone interview allows you to hear before you see. This is a perfectly relaxing opportunity for both the interviewer and the candidate. Most phone interviews take place in the evening. You can either schedule the phone interview or cold call the candidate.

Once the candidate has qualified past the phone interview, it is time for a face-to-face interview. You need to understand the job description and review the candidate’s application and resume. You also need to understand your role as an interviewer:

- Be on time

- Understand the selection criteria

- Greet the candidate with a firm handshake and use the candidate’s first name

- Stay open minded

- Use simple clear language

- Instruct the candidate on next steps

- Thank the candidate for his or her interest in the position

As a trained interviewer, you must be prepared with questions that will lead the candidate into a deeper understanding of the job and his possible role. Questions will help you make a clear decision regarding the best candidate and fit for the position and your company.

The interview process should be broken down into three phases:

- Introduction phase (2-5 minutes)

- Qualification phase (35-40 minutes)

- Position/organization information phase (10-15 minutes)

As you further qualify the candidates, you must incorporate assessment tools. These tools will further qualify the candidate’s behaviors, tendencies, communication, and listening and selling skills as applicable to the job.

If there has ever been a time to be selective, now is that time. You are now interviewing from a reference point of strength. You might not have any openings; that’s perfectly fine; interview anyway. If you find a diamond in the rough, even with the state of our industry, you might want to make the investment.

Ty Bello is president of Team@Work.