Archive for the ‘Selection’ category

The Best Interview Question To Ask

March 9, 2018

Most people have heard stories about silly interview questions aimed at gauging a candidate’s fit: “If you were a tree, what would you be and why?”, “What animal are you most like?”, and “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?”.

Also, there are the mind-bending questions Google asks trying to determine how smart a candidate is: “When there’s a wind blowing, does a round-trip by plane take more time, less time, or the same time?”, “Using only a 4-minute hourglass and a 7-minute hourglass, how can you measure 9 minutes.”, “At 3:15, what is the angle between the minute and hour hands on an analog clock?”.

While hiring managers may have good reasons to ask these questions, asking this single question can provide much more insight into a candidate’s qualifications: “What would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career?”

Follow up these with these probing questions:

  • Tell me about your role and the team involved; why were you chosen?
  • What were the actual results achieved?
  • When did the project take place and how long did it take?
  • What were the 3-4 biggest challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
  • When did you go the extra mile or take the initiative?
  • Explain your manager’s style and whether you liked it.
  • What were some of the biggest mistakes you made?
  • What aspects of the project did you truly enjoy?
  • What aspects did you not especially care about and how did you handle them?
  • Hiring managers will be amazed what they can learn about a candidate by digging deep into just this one event.

Empowered hiring managers ask insightful interview questions to make more successful hires.

Source: Lou Adler of The Adler Group

Remember Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 When Hiring

March 2, 2018

Stephen Covey’s popular “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages. This iconic inspirational book is as pertinent today as it was when first written. Though Covey presented many lessons to apply to the selection process, the most important is Habit #2: Begin With The End In Mind.

All too often hiring managers get caught up in the details of the selection process and lose sight of why they are making the hire to begin with.  It is important to find a way to accomplish the success factors associated with a job.  If hiring someone achieves that objective, great.  If the success factors can be accomplished by some other means, that’s great too.

Hiring managers shouldn’t assume making the perfect hire is going to ultimately achieve success. They must start by defining what success in the job looks like and recruit, hire, on-board, and manage towards those goals.  A good hire alone without success defined will not necessarily achieve the objective.

Empowered hiring managers “Begin With The End In Mind,” define success, and achieve the results they are looking for.

Great Teams Start With Great Hires

February 9, 2018

Right now there is a team working on the next iPhone.  There is a team working on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. There is a team working on a car that gets 100 miles per gallon. What teams are going to achieve their objective? What makes for a successful team?

Patrick Lencioni in “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” developed a model of high performing teams that includes five key characteristics: inter-team trust, healthy conflict, team member commitment, team member accountability, and team results orientation. But before someone can be a high performing team member, they need to have been hired into the organization.

In all likelihood, a new hire will be assigned to a team sometime in their career. Hiring managers should screen for teamwork skills along with other job requirements.

Here are some questions for hiring managers to ask candidates to understand how well they will perform in a team setting:

  • Describe an effective team in which you’ve participated.  What made it a good team? Describe a team that was less effective. What was the difference between the two?
  • Have you ever seen someone violate a trust relationship with another team member? What was the trust issue that was violated? What was the result? How could it have been avoided?
  • Give me an example of a group or team decision that was made and you felt that it was wrong or was something you disagreed with. How did you handle it? Were there others who agreed with you? What was the end result?

Empowered teams choose new hires who will make great team members and experience more success.

Beware Of The Anchoring Bias When Making A Hire

January 13, 2018

Everyone has biases, those unconscious inclinations that affect everyday decisions.  These mental shortcuts allow people to get through their day without having to analyze every thought, but often prevent them from making sound decisions.

Wikipedia defines the anchoring bias as the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first pieces of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.

Hiring managers often make poor hires when they let the anchoring bias affect hiring decisions.  One hiring manager we worked with, Bob, needed to fill a key role and was initially presented with many poor candidates.  After many lousy interviews, Bob met with an “okay” candidate – Steve.  Compared to the earlier candidates, Steve looked like a star.  Though Steve wasn’t what Bob had envisioned, when anchored with the other candidates, he stood out enough to be offered the job.

The rest of the story is clear: Steve didn’t work out and Bob had to let him go.  Had Bob been aware of his tendency to rely on the first pieces of information, to be anchored, he probably wouldn’t have made the hire.

Empowered hiring managers understand their biases and make more successful decisions.

How Much Effort To Spend Before Making A Hire

November 21, 2017

Imagine an organization needs to make a $50,000 capital expenditure (equipment, IT, renovations).  Before making the investment, what actions might the team make?  Would the team gather with an objective expert to discuss the specifications needed?  Would they talk to several suppliers and assess various options?  Would they talk to references from the supplier to determine if they are trustworthy?  Would they make further purchases (insurance, warranties, training) after delivery to protect and maximize the investment?

Most leaders would answer, “of course, $50,000 is a lot of money and we don’t want to make a mistake.”  Why is it then that hiring managers don’t put forth as much effort when making a $50,000 hire?

Before making a hire, leaders should gather the job’s stakeholders to determine what is needed from the role and the type of person who fits best.  Hiring managers should interview and assess several candidates.  They should talk to candidate references to make sure they are the right fit.  Hiring managers should also invest in new hire training to ensure the new hire’s success.

And, unlike a capital expenditure, a talent investment will appreciate over time.

Effective leaders empower their team to treat their people investments with the same diligence as capital investments and experience more success.

The Best Producers Don’t Necessarily Make The Best Managers

November 3, 2017

Do the best producers make the best managers? Almost unanimously, when leaders are asked this question, the answer is “no.” Yet too often leaders look for candidates among their best producers and select the best worker for the manager job. They assume that because an individual was successful in their contributor role, that individual will be successful in management, too.

Of course, many great producers can and do become great managers, but this is not always the case. Too often, when a superstar gets promoted to manager, one or more of the following happens:

  • They can’t let go of their old role. They take charge of details, undermining direct reports’ motivation and confidence and weakening their respect.
  • They manage by results only and expect everyone to produce the same results that they got, but are not good at coaching and giving people constructive feedback on how to get there.
  • They avoid administrative responsibilities and become frustrated by the many routine but important tasks that management requires.

Eventually, the direct reports stop learning and growing. They become disenchanted, disengage from their work, and may even leave the company.

Before promoting the superstar, leaders should treat them like any external managerial candidate and put them through a rigorous selection process (make sure they are comfortable with the manager job accountabilities, assess their leadership skills, and seek references from others who have seen them lead).  Superstar individual contributors are often happier and better serve the organization doing what they are doing.

Empowered leaders thoroughly vet a superstar before promoting them and are more successful.

Plans to Hire First Quarter

November 2, 2017

If you plan to hire in the first quarter, start your preparations now.

With the unemployment rate at an “unnatural low”, finding the right people to hire has become excruciatingly more difficult than when the labor market was more “normal” and we were all just trying to identify the best from the rest.

Of course, it’s a permanent part of our jobs now as leaders to create an environment in which people are motivated to excel and live our cultures, but short cuts in selection can be dreadful.  It’s hard to believe how much preparation needs to go into every hire we make.

If you’re planning on any hiring in the first quarter of 2018, I urge you to consider this.  New Year’s Eve brings with it hopes, dreams, and even commitments for a new start on so many fronts – some health related, some relationship-based, but often career oriented.  For ages we’ve known the first week or two in January has people looking for new opportunities who just a week earlier weren’t even open to conversations; these same people are looking before they have their resumes together!

Simply expressing the plans for growth and willingness to have some of the preliminary conversations before the need is urgent is more than just wise, it’s critical.

You know we profess gathering the stakeholders of the job together to have them define what success looks like (create the scorecard) and then identify the ideal person to do that work in your culture (create the Avatar).  As the holidays creep up on us, and pressure to push for goals before the end of the year becomes intense, getting those stakeholders all together for 5 hours is tough.  There’s nothing wrong with defining the job and the Avatar now for use early in January.

Make Recruiting Everyone’s Responsibility

July 14, 2017

When leaders are asked what their greatest talent challenge is, most will say it’s finding “good people.”  Regardless of the economic conditions, hiring managers can never find enough top talent.

Human behavior dictates talented people normally hang around other talented people.  If there are top performers on a team, there is a very good chance they know other stars and some of those stars could be the “good people” hiring managers are trying to find.

Google is known for attracting and hiring great talent. In their book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg describe Google’s approach:

“… why let only recruiters handle recruiting? If everyone knows someone great, why isn’t it everyone’s job to recruit that great person?

The simple way to keep recruiting in everyone’s job description is to measure it. Count referrals and interviews. Encourage employees to help with recruiting events, and track how often they do. Then make these metrics count when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. Recruiting is everyone’s job, so grade it that way.”

Leaders who empower their top performers to recruit other top performers will successfully find “good people.”

Let The Selection Process Be An Evaluation Tool

July 7, 2017

What if there was a way to know before someone was hired how well they respond to emails, manage timelines, and coordinate meetings? A good selection process can do just that.

Most selection processes include email communications, assessments/tests, and reference checks. Observing how candidates handle those steps and the space between the steps can give hiring managers great insight into the candidate’s ability to handle certain situations.

When hiring managers send emails to candidates (like a core values email screen), they should ask the candidate to respond in a particular way (i.e. “short and to the point” or “as if you were replying to a customer”) and watch how the candidate follows those directions. When hiring managers ask candidates to take assessments or tests, they should ask that they be completed by a set date or ask when the candidate expects to complete the task; then watch to see if the candidate finishes by that date/time. When conducting reference checks, hiring managers want to ask the candidate to arrange the meeting times between the hiring manager and their references to see how well they coordinate the meetings.

A candidate may do very well in their interviews and have all the right skills, but if they don’t follow directions, meet deadlines, and setup meetings well in the interview process, it’s unlikely they will do much better after the job offer.

Empowered hiring managers use a selection process that challenges candidates to perform business basics and experience better hires.

Avoid A Common Hiring Bias

June 9, 2017

Hyperbolic discounting is the tendency for people to prefer a smaller, immediate payoff over a larger, delayed payoff. Much research has been done on decision-making, and many factors contribute to the individual decision making process. Interestingly, delay time is a big factor in choosing an alternative. In fact, studies have shown most people would choose to get $20 today instead of getting $100 one year from today.

Leaders often make similar mistakes when selecting new hires.  Many times, hiring managers are seduced by certain hard skills a candidate can immediately apply and may pass over a stronger candidate who needs time to develop those skills.  Remember: most employees are hired for hard skills, but fired for lack of soft skills.  When selecting new hires, hiring managers must consider the candidate’s future contributions; not their immediate productivity.

Empowered hiring managers understand human behavior and how they can overcome their natural tendencies to make more successful hires.