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Hiring 212: How to minimize unsuccessful hires

Job Applicants In America
Job Applicants In America
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Turnover is a part of every business; unless you work at Google...Google rocks.

If you're not attracting amazing applicants with 80k internships, economic relief through free employee housing, or a coveted stress-free daily commute, then keep reading.

It doesn't matter whether you're managing employee growth for a small business or fostering human capital at one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies. The #Hiring principles are the same. Reduce your cost per hire (CPH), secure rockstar talent, develop your employees through consistent engagement and opportunities for promotion. Sounds simple right? Every hiring manager wants to get to the last part of that equation. The myth being widespread amongst candidates and hiring managers alike; is that all interviewers know how to interview well.

Sorting through candidates to score your next great hire is a task that can quickly overwhelm any recruiter or hiring manager. Think back to your last unsuccessful hire. Ask yourself, "What was my role in the hiring process and what could I have done differently to change the results?"

To elevate your success rate as an interviewer, you'll have to dig beyond the surface level and not be afraid to spend a little more time uncovering a candidate's worth. Doing so will save you time and dramatically decrease the odds of hiring a candidate who departs within the first 90 days (whether voluntarily or involuntarily).

Interviewers with little to no consistency asking both behavioral and analytical style interviewing questions run the risk of being "entertained" when meeting candidates. They are fascinated by the "representative" of the candidate. Upon hire, managers are often shocked by the new employee's inability to adapt and contribute to the culture of the company. Challenge your hiring team. Ask often, "What can we do differently to change the success rate of our new hires?".

In a perfect #Hiring world, rock-star candidates would be forthcoming and share their opportunities for improvement. A potential hire would express what their acceptance into the role would mean for the bottom line of your organization.

Why is this person looking for a job?

Call it the plight of the hiring manager. Approximately 10.5 million Americans are in the race to secure competitive employment. It is your job as a hiring manager to find the reason this person is looking for a job. You can eliminate 1 hour off your appointment calendar by pre-screening applicants over the phone: "Tell me about your current position, why are you seeking new employment?" The candidate may be expressing a passive interest and feels secure enough in his/her current role to test the waters for a salary jump.

Perhaps the candidate is looking for a short term job while pursuing a passion unrelated to your field of business. If you decide not to move forward with a face to face interview, remember to be polite. Thank them for their time and let the applicant know that it was just a phone screen.

Let them know you will be in touch if their results come inline with the needs of the position. When a candidate expresses a genuine desire to grow in their professional role and contribute to your organization, feel free to invite them for a first meeting. Be prepared to get answers to the following questions.

What does the candidate expect to accomplish in this position?

If the candidate is worth the shoes they wore to the interview, they will come prepared having researched your company. More importantly, they should be able to articulate what they intend to accomplish in the role. Ask questions that require knowledge about the role.

For example:

"Given what you already know about our company, how would you measure success in your role? What challenges would you encounter in meeting those goals?"

Listen for specific facts that demonstrate the candidate's knowledge of the services your company provides and the solutions they will bring to the role.

What motivates this person to exceed company expectations?

A growing reality amongst American employers is often whispered in HR circles. How does a company engage an employee who is not motivated by the thrill of a bigger paycheck?

"Describe a time when your supervisor assigned a task to you that was exceptionally difficult to complete. How did you bring the project to a successful completion? What motivated you to exceed his/her expectations?"

Listen for cues that highlight a candidate's leadership abilities, resourcefulness, and desire to perform well without the anticipation of a monetary bonus. You may be surprised to find out that the candidate is motivated by the satisfaction of being able to outperform peers on special projects. Some great hires flourish in environments where their ideas are recognized and implemented. For many employees, this carries more weight for personal fulfillment.

Can the candidate overcome professional setbacks?

The moment in everyone's professional career that most people would like to forget. The time they failed. Maybe it was a presentation that underwhelmed a client. Perhaps they were terminated for under performance early on in their career. No matter the reason; as a hiring manager you must look FORWARD.

"Tell me a about a time when you experienced failure professionally. What factors led to your inability to meet the company benchmark? Knowing what you know now, what was your area of opportunity; and how would you change your results?"

There is nothing more appealing to a hiring manager than a candidate who demonstrates personal accountability, receives feedback well, and adapts their behaviors to achieve a positive result. The candidate should reference a specific situation, and explain how the knowledge they gained will have a positive impact in the role they are applying for. By asking questions that are both behavioral and analytical, you elicit a response that requires thought and a solution.

Eventually you will meet a rock-star candidate who knows (or rather, thinks) they are a rock-star who has never experienced failure. When this happens, put down your notepad, thank the interviewee for their time and move on with your day. Never waste a single moment with candidates (or employees for that matter) who fail to recognize their professional areas of opportunity.

For each person unwilling to take ownership or receive developmental feedback, there are hundreds of thousands of people capable of demonstrating both personal and professional accountability. These individuals deserve an opportunity to join your organization.

As always, be cautious how you interact with applicants. Even if they aren't an ideal employee, they may become your organizations biggest cheerleader. Use every interaction with external applicants as opportunities to acquire brand ambassadors for your organization.

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