Effective hiring practices to make hiring more predictable
Many managers view hiring as a “black box.” They throw a job ad out there, and hope something good comes out the other side, but are unsure whether a new hire will work out in the long-term. Everett Reiss, co-founder of Jane, and Meredith Toole, founder of Talent Point Consulting, recently gave hiring managers more effective hiring practices with their seminar Cracking the Code: How to Identify & Hire the Best Talent. Their advice provides new avenues for reaching a hiring success rate of 70, 80, even 90 percent! And when you consider the cost of hiring, percentage point matters!
No matter what step you’re at in the hiring process, there are ways you can make that elusive great hire a consistent reality, rather than feel like a luck of the draw. Read on to learn our trusted and effective hiring practices.
1. Begin with the end in mind
First, try to envision what the new reality of your organization/team looks like with the right new hire in place. For example, if you’re looking for a seasoned salesperson to implement a new sales strategy, you probably hope this person will create new efficiencies, will train incoming hires on best practices, and will free you up to focus on other facets of your organization.
Now, start painting a clear picture of the ideal candidate profile. This is the criteria against which all applicants should be measured, and it should be created by asking yourself (and appropriate stakeholders) a few important questions:
- What does success look like? Identify key measurable results.
- What behaviors and tasks must this person perform to get there?
- What baseline knowledge should the new hire possess on day one?
- What are behavior patterns that you want to be sure this person doesn’t exhibit?
- Who among your circle of colleagues already embodies what you’re looking for?
The more specific you can get, and the more examples of ideal (or non-ideal) behaviors you can provide, the more equipped you’ll be when applicants start rolling in.
2. Treat your candidates like consumers
There aren’t many functional differences between the job you’re offering and any other product. In their judgment of your position, candidates will behave like consumers, and critical ones at that — they will consider not only the job expectations and compensation, but also what your company evokes in them emotionally, what makes you stand out, how you treat your employees, and more. This is why you should adopt marketing best practices into your recruitment strategy.
This will involve layering a candidate persona onto your ideal candidate profile — what personal goals might they have? Where are they geographically? What objections could they have about your company? These questions will inform not just where you post but what you post. Remember: you’re not only representing this one job, you are representing your company, your team culture, and more.
There are also the basics no matter who you’re marketing to, such as optimizing your “Careers” page to serve as the best face of your company (What does “a day in the life” look like? What are current employees saying?), and evaluating your social media channels to make sure you’re spreading consistent brand messaging.
3. Be intentional with assessments & selections
You’ll need to put qualified-looking candidates through an assessment process that makes sense for the position, while also making sure you’re not making candidates jump through unfair hoops or violating employment laws.
When it comes to phone screening and in-person interviews, every question should serve a concrete purpose in telling you something meaningful about the candidate, especially as it relates to the ideal candidate profile. How do you assess if a trait comes naturally to them? Ask for specific examples of past behavior, e.g. “Can you tell me about a time in which you had to communicate a setback to a client?” This is in contrast to a question like “Are you good at managing expectations with clients?” which essentially feeds candidates the answer.
When it comes to other assessments, such as work sample tasks, be conscious of the labor market. People that know they’re in demand won’t be willing to jump through as many hoops. Always keep the candidate experience in mind — how do you want the candidate to feel along the way? How are you treating not only those you move forward, but those you dismiss?
There’s a lot more to learn about a best practices recruitment strategy beyond these takeaways. But these should serve as a jumping off point when you’re thinking about each stage in the process and how to approach them with intent. Once you start implementing them, you’ll be amazed at how lucid the once-perplexing world of hiring becomes.