with responsibility for hiring or promoting employees
knows how aggravating it is to select a candidate
seemed right only to discover later they weren’t
as good a fit for the job as you thought they'd be. Poor
job fit results in lost productivity and excessive attrition - both costly issues for today’s lean organizations.
do we so often hire the wrong person for the job?
Often, the hiring manager isn't clear about what
is required to perform the job well. When there
is lack of clarity
concerning any aspect of the job or the person needed
for the job, managers opt for candidates they
Many times the candidate is like the manager
and we almost
always ‘like’ people who match our styles.
We also hire candidates who seem to know people in the
industry (have an extensive rolodex). This is more common
for sales people or very senior positions.
for hiring the wrong candidate is that they have prepared
well and have effectively sold themselves during the
interview. And perhaps the most intriguing reason for
poor fit that I hear (too often), is that managers sometimes
know the candidate isn’t an ideal fit, but place
them in the job anyway. The rational I hear for this
questionable logic includes ‘we just weren’t
attracting any really good candidates’ or ‘interviewing
takes a lot of time and I don’t have a lot of time’.
How can you prevent hiring
the wrong candidate in your organization?
Define the ‘hard’ needs of the job including
experience required (and in what), knowledge
of industry, training and education, consistency
of work history,
willingness to travel, what they need to
be proficient at (like using Excel or driving a truck).
A review of
a candidate’s experiences, references,
education, skills and training tells us WHAT
they can do and
whether it matches the needs of the job.
At some point you
must have a background check performed -
the higher the job,
the more extensive the check.
2. Develop a list of 3 – 6 key accountabilities
or goals that this job will ‘be held accountable
for. These are those things that must be done and that
will impact the business. Key Accountabilities are the
reason the job exists. They must be measurable. And these
3 – 6 key accountabilities should occupy
about 80% of the employees time. (Note: From my
clients, this is the most important pre-hiring
activity and is
the one most often neglected.)
3. Benchmark the job. We find that those companies
that effectively benchmark the soft skills required
in the job they are filling have the information
they need to look for the right candidate. And the
is objective (helping to eliminate bias). Notice
I did not say benchmark your top performers in the
as sales). The reason is that your top performers
may just be top performers in your company. It is
for a company to benchmark the job and then assess
their top performers and find this to be the reality.
not loss. Two opportunities present themselves:
a. Using the benchmark you can upgrade the talent
in the position by filling the position
with a new person who is a better fit or
helping the current employee develop.
b. Using the benchmark and the reports generated
from the assessment reports, you will have great
information with which to coach you current top performers
into even greater performance.
Also, using a predetermined benchmark is fine for
comparison sake, but use these with care. The generalized
benchmark may not be accurate for the specific job
you are filling or doing succession planning for.
4. Assess your top job candidates (internal and external)
versus the benchmark. Using effective hiring systems,
assessing candidates’ soft skills is easier today
than ever before. You can have the candidate complete
our assessments from anywhere there is Internet access.
And you will have their reports within minutes. The
candidate’s reports should align with the benchmark
which makes your analysis easy and quick. In areas
that are marginal, the candidate’s reports will
guide you in asking interviewing questions that target
the soft skills that are most important to success
in the job.
Are soft skills really important in jobs?
The answer is YES! We hire for skills and fire for
attitudes (soft skills). There was a time when it wasn’t
very fashionable in business to focus on soft skills.
The trend was to focus on hard skills (Can they DO
the task required?). Today, though, we have matured
and understand that soft skills (sometimes called personal
skills) usually have more to do with success and failure
in a job than hard skills. For example, I have heard
more than one client say “We can train them to
do X, but if they aren’t good team players, concrete
thinkers or problem solvers (soft skill), they can’t
be effective in this job.” Conversely, I have
heard most of my clients say “The reality of
how (name) is doing is not what I had hoped for when
I hired them! I don’t know why I didn’t
see this when I was interviewing them.”
Soft skills comprise a person’s
job attributes, their motivators and their behaviors.
Attributes are a cognitive measure of how strongly
a person values certain competencies like customer
service, leading others, quality orientation, flexibility,
internal self control or self management. The more
important the competency is to success in the job,
the more important it needs to be to the person hired
for the job. Attributes and Competencies often are
the most important consideration when evaluating
a candidate's people skills.
Motivators tell us WHY a person does what they do.
There are six primary Motivators: Theoretical, Individualistic,
Social, Utilitarian, Traditional and Aesthetic. Here’s
an example: Someone who is highly Utilitarian is motivated
by results. They are profit-driven and bottom line
oriented. They are driven by competition, challenges
and economic incentives. The want to see results from
anything they do, spend or give (including time)If
the job provides and rewards these characteristics,
the individual will be motivated.
Behaviors were once thought to be the key to success
performance in a job. While still seen as important,
Attributes and Motivators are often more important
because it is easier to adapt behaviors to the situation.
That said, Behaviors can cause a person to fail in
a job or feel a great deal of stress because their
style is not a good fit for the job. For example, if
someone is extremely outgoing and positive, putting
them in a job that has little people contact and high
levels of skepticism will be very frustrating for them.
Someone in a position of authority who has difficulty
making decisions will have trouble leading. In addition,
an understanding of one’s behavioral style and
that of others is key to effective interpersonal communication.
The right assessments are the key to successful hiring
The right assessments can help you objectively
understand a candidate’s attributes, competencies, motivators
and behaviors. Comparing a candidate’s assessment
reports to the needs of the job (benchmark) will help
you understand how good – or poor – a fit
the candidate will be for the job. Assessments help
you get under the resume and the candidate’s
interviewing persona. The right assessments will unearth
a wonderfully rich body of information which you can
use to help you continue the interviewing process and
make your decision. The information you get from the
right assessment reports can even serve as coaching
guides for those candidates you hire or incumbents
you are working to develop. One of my clients, who
has been using assessments for the past three years,
says “I don’t know how we could effectively
make a hiring decision today without the information
we get from these (assessment) reports.” Another
client says “These reports have saved me, more
than once, from making a terrible hiring mistake.”
Benefits of hiring employees who fit their job
Managers who are clear about the requirements for success
in a job - including the ideal profile of personal
attributes, motivators and behaviors - will have high
levels of success when they hire. Filling each of your
job openings with candidates who really fit is simply
good business. It improves productivity, morale, and
ultimately, the success of your organization. It reduces
the burden on the manager because the employee will
like their job. It creates energy for those who work
around someone who loves their job. It creates loyalty
(yep, there is still such a thing as loyalty). It inspires
creativity. And finally, it saves money and reduces
disruptions to the business which is the result of
having to fire someone or having them quit (whether
they actually leave of not).
Joe McKenna, founder of The KENNA Company, is an expert
people-centric workplace issues such as employee
selection, succession planning, executive coaching,
communication skills and team building. He can be
reached at (816)943-0868 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His
© TKC 2005 - The KENNA Company helps
companies select and engage high impact performers.
Their products and services help companies improve
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