Finding the right people is one of the most important, but most challenging things to do. Many entrepreneurs have at one point or another hired the wrong person. Determining who is right for a particular position and your business as a whole, and who is not, is tough. Not only are candidates more prepared for interviews than they have ever been before, but it’s also the one place that you can guarantee they will be putting their absolute best foot forward. So, how do you get through all of that and determine if they are the right fit? Here are some keys that can help you hire the right people and avoid the wrong ones.
Avoid Situational and Future-Oriented Interview Questions
A common mistake for many interviewers is to ask situational and future-oriented questions. A situational question is one where you give a candidate a particular situation and ask them how they’d respond in that situation. These types of questions lead to hypothetical answers, which rarely give any real insight into a candidate. Their answer will tell you whether or not they know how they should handle a particular situation, but it won’t tell you whether or not they’ll actually handle it that way. For example, if you ask a retail applicant how they would handle a disgruntled customer, most would give you an answer that would lead you to believe they’d handle it professionally and gracefully, though we know that’s not always the case. Asking candidates future-oriented questions is asking them to tell you what you want to hear. You will gain very little information that will help you make strong hiring decisions. Instead of asking situational and future-oriented questions, focus your questions on the past.
Focus on Past Behaviour
Although many interviewers ask what someone has done in their past, few really dig into past behaviour; there’s a big difference between the two. For example, knowing that someone has experience working with children does not tell you anything about how they’d perform in such a role. In order to determine how they’d perform, dig into their behaviour while they were in a similar role in the past. Past behaviour is the best predictor of future performance. If they acted in a specific way in the past, it’s highly likely they will act the same way in a similar situation in the future. This is called behavioural interviewing. Here are some examples of behavioural questions you could ask a candidate applying for a role working with children:
Use Real Tests and Exercises
Even better than asking questions to try to determine how someone will perform, is seeing it directly. Although sometimes not practical, real tests will provide the most accurate information about a candidate. Imagine that instead of interviewing candidates you could have them all do the job for a couple of weeks. You’d be able to see how they’d actually perform in each of the job responsibilities, which would probably lead to great hiring decisions. Unfortunately doing that is typically not practical. What you could do instead though is provide real tests and exercises that align with some of the responsibilities of the job. For example, if an important requirement of the position is that they need to hit deadlines, through the interview process you could give them a few different tasks with deadlines. This will give you a real picture of when they complete things in respect to a deadline. As another example, if the job required strong writing skills, you could incorporate a writing component into your interview. By finding ways to really test what you are looking for, you will get information that is much more reliable than you will by asking questions.
Get the References You Want and the Answers You Need
It’s quite common for many interviewers to get references but to not bother calling them. This is probably because most find references to be relatively useless, which makes sense, as a candidate’s likely only going to provide references that would be good for them. That doesn’t mean that references are useless, and in fact they can be a very valuable tool in helping you select the right people. First, don’t be afraid to ask for references that you’d like to talk to rather than just getting references that the candidate provides. “As part of our interview process I’d like to connect with a few references, would it be possible to speak to….?” Second, when doing the reference check, don’t just ask what they think of the candidate or whether or not they’d recommend them, instead, use the reference to validate specific details you’ve learned and to give deeper insight into their character and behaviour. References are a great tool to validate details you’ve been given in an interview, such as specific job responsibilities, their behaviour in specific situations, and awards or recognitions received. Don’t just take their word that they were captain of the team and won the MVP award, instead ask their coach. References are also a great way to get further insight into character and behaviour. Prepare a list of specific questions that you’d like the reference to answer about the candidate. Here are some examples of questions that could provide valuable info on a candidate:
Use a Hiring Assessment Test
Another valuable tool for helping you select the right people is hiring assessment test. Hiring assessments can provide 3rd party insight into a candidate’s ability to perform a particular task or skill, and their personality make-up. These tests are commonly referred to as aptitude tests or personality tests, and there are many options readily available, including free options online and ones that you can have custom built for your roles and positions. Hiring assessments are not tools to replace interviewing a candidate, but can be used to get more information and information that you can match up to what you have learned directly to help you make better hiring decisions.
Ensure It’s a Two-Way Street
When selecting someone it’s important to make sure that both sides believe it is a great fit. Although it’s easy to assume that a candidate applying for a job inherently believes it’s a good fit, that’s not always the case. There could be outside pressure, or maybe a couple of aspects of the job that really appeal to them, but not the entire job. It’s important to make sure that through your interviews you give candidates enough time to ask as many questions as they need about the company and role to make the best decision for them. Often interviews can be too focused on getting the info needed to make the best decision for the company. On the flip side, it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a candidate that really wants the position. Many interviewers have let this excitement mask finding out if the candidate is really a good fit. It’s always great when you have an excited candidate, but be sure to not let that stop you from really digging into their fit. By ensuring that both sides believe it is a great fit, you are much more likely to get the right people.
Finding and hiring the right people is one of the most challenging things to do for many entrepreneurs. It’s also one of the most important, as the people you select will have a direct impact on the results of your business. The above keys will lead you to more info on a candidate than before, more valuable info on a candidate, and better input from references, the candidates themselves, and other resources such as hiring assessments, which ultimately will lead to hiring more of the right people and avoiding the wrong ones.
Launch365 specializes in training, coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs through business startup and on core business skills. We provide training and coaching on all aspects of interviewing and selection. We also build custom solutions for all hiring needs. If you would like to discuss how we could help you with your business or on these skills, contact us at: www.launch365.ca/contact-us. To download our startup guide titled “Startup Success Blueprint” for free go to: www.launch365.ca/startup-success.