Are you sure your hiring process is smooth? Do you know what you have a set of things to consider when doing so? This quick session discusses to us what are the best steps on hiring and assessing people in whatever role or position you are looking at. Learn a lot of valuable insights on what you can do to be even better with your accuracy rate. You are in for more in-depth knowledge and explanation of each of the steps that could lead you to success in this episode.
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Hiring Strategies for 2022
This is something unique. We are going to do a simple tip session on assessing your talent and what you can do to be even better with your accuracy rate. I want to start with a little bit of a story. I was helping a firm search while we were in the client engagement phase. Somebody said, “Isn’t this a roll of the dice? It’s a 50/50 proposition. If we get it right, that’s great but why should we pay you?” It was a very interesting question because, in our business, you can never take for granted that people appreciate and understand the value of search.
Ideally, I was quick on my feet in saying, “It’s like going to Las Vegas and throwing your money out on the table, playing your cards, and hoping for the best. The house is always going to beat you If you don’t know what you are doing.” I shared with him that learning to count cards, the strategies, and what to look for means to bet more, when to walk away, when to check, and all of those skills are something that you can teach. While it’s not the best analogy for hiring, it’s certainly apropos.
As we go through this, I’m going to follow a little bit of the book but editorialize because when you write a book, you have to be very crisp and pointed. You edit, re-edit, and re-edit the edits. Sometimes it’s mind-numbing. Mike and I would say that by the end of writing your book, you have come to hate it because you have read it and rewritten so many times but we do love our book. It couldn’t be more topical.
One of the last sections of the book is about assessing talent. What’s interesting is my experience over the years. There are plenty of companies doing great things and not exactly this. On the business side, many times, it’s about writing a job description and throwing it over the fence. Your talent acquisition team catches it and then goes and executes. It’s like placing an order to Amazon. You think it’s going to be delivered and you get to sort through the packages and pick the one you want.
In this Great Resignation and ever-changing economy, you need to be very purposeful in how you hire from creating the role, understanding what’s successful in the role, partnering with your talent acquisition team and your HR business partners. The number one thing that business leaders and the managers that I have worked with get wrong is they start the process well before assessing talent and the interviews. They don’t even take a hard look at what success looks like.
One of the first things that you can do, and mind you, not every position is the same and some positions are going to be lower hourly wages because we are talking about hiring salary professionals here. It’s understanding very clearly what success looks like. Which of the nine attributes that we list in our book are critical for this particular role?
If you are hiring somebody in the sales field, inside field sales or a sales engineer, there’s going to be a certain amount of drive, resiliency, and creative thinking. There will be a lot of personality factors that go into it but curiosity may not be one of those traits. There are a lot of things that may not fall into that. If you are hiring a software developer, the effective intelligence and curiosity may need to be off the charts.
The point being is that we see often a laundry list of objective requirements, points of fact, 2 to 4 years, 5 to 7 years of experience managing or leading people, working in this industry or dealing with this particular product. The list can be endless. In most cases, what ends up happening is business leaders have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook and load everything into a job description. What you end up with is a unicorn, you have your talent acquisition team searching for a profile that may or may not exist but none of those objective requirements listed in the job description predict success in the role.
Know And Define Success
The first thing that you need to do is to know and define success. Pick your 3 to 4 key attributes that you want to see in that role. Once you get beyond that, make sure you are having a very detailed conversation with your recruiter, your talent acquisition consultant or specialist so that they understand. If they don’t already, they should be students of the business and understand the team dynamics, why you are hiring and what role they are filling within the team, not just the job title and responsibilities.You need to be very purposeful in how you hire. Click To Tweet
Define Your Hiring Team
You need to define your hiring team and understand that A-players select A-players. In countless times, I have seen candidates go into interviews and you are grabbing somebody at the last minute. B-players select B-players and C-players, whatever the cat dragged in. It’s a horrible experience for top talent. Select A-players who have the humble confidence to recognize in another what brings success to the team, and those who aren’t afraid of it, will be challenged by it or want to be surrounded by other A-players.
Make sure that you train them so that each person has an assigned role when they interview. As a candidate myself, there are very few irritating things. Demonstrative of the lack of preparation is to go from interview to interview and spend half to full-day answering the very same questions that the previous person asked me.
I can put a different spin on it but it tells me that they don’t know what they are looking for. In an environment where top talent has even more choices than anytime that I can remember, that process needs to be engaging, thoughtful and challenging. With these A-players, one cargo rule is to make sure the team is not homogenous. Said more simply, if you are in sales, product or service, grab an A-player from finance, customer support, and some other department that doesn’t have a specific stake in the success of that role but rather has a stake in the success of the company.
Have A Standard Set Of Questions
That is a good person to gauge the results when they go through the interview. Each one of these A-players for the third step needs to have a standard set of questions. Those questions are tailored by the attributes that you define as success. Your recruiter or talent acquisition specialist should have been screening for the table stakes. In the book, nowhere does any member of our team say experience doesn’t matter but it’s not necessarily predictive of success.
Once the initial table stakes have been met and the basic requirements, you can close that gate. Now, it’s about character. Those success and character attributes, you have to assign to each member of the interviewing team. Ideally, you should keep the same interviewing team over and over so, at the end of the process, you can have a feedback loop. You can go back and see how each person scored, calibrate them, and have a team that gets better at interviewing.
You are going to have to sign somebody. The fourth tip is to create pressure. Some of those things could be as simple as, “Tell me about a time where you had to give bad news to your boss. You had to tell the truth even though it might mean negative consequences for you.” For a person that doesn’t have an example, you need to start to be concerned about that person. We have all had the phase of sharing bad news, a shortcoming, a failure or a missed objective with our bosses and our team. Those are the moments where we learn.
Not only does that question speak to integrity but it also speaks to our learning ability and agility. You can also create pressure by asking about those very failures, not just talking about them. What did they learn? Any candidate that hasn’t failed, I would argue, absent them being fresh out of college. Even then, if they don’t have a failure, most environments are going to be too challenging for those people. You want somebody who has failed at something. That doesn’t mean something catastrophic like they blew up half of our manufacturing facility because of a safety violation or an ethical violation.
It simply means, “When did they set an objective and not meet that objective according to the timeline?” That’s all. You are not to be concerned with the failure itself. You need to be concerned with what did they learn, how did they plan, what was their thought process going into it, how did they navigate the shortcomings, and how did they go back and fix what they did wrong. The next example they give you takes the lessons that they learned from the failure and puts them to good use.
Method For Scoring
In having A-players, a team, and standardized questions, you need to have a scoring method. I’ve got to admit that in this litigious society, people are very scared to put notes in an applicant tracking system or a CRM and say, “This person was not energetic. They didn’t smile. They lacked eye contact and any number of those things.” I understand but you can’t have a very standardized scorecard that allows you to compare candidates against other candidates, apples to apples, to make it simple.If everybody's thinking alike, then nobody's thinking. Click To Tweet
You need to have those attributes out. You need to have experience there. How does each candidate rank? You need to make the scoring as objective as you possibly can, although some interviewers are going to obviously have some swings in how they evaluate a particular answer. Do not let one interviewer talk to another before they have seen the candidate. You have to make sure that you remove all the bias in the process as you possibly can. There’s nothing worse.
I will give you a quick war story. I had a chief financial officer and a CHRO or Chief Human Resource Officer that office next door to one another. As far as the C-Suite, they were pretty close. They worked together wonderfully. They were two great human beings and good leaders. I would run executives through them. I would ask for feedback from one and they would copy the other. Generally, they would be echoing the same comments.
I knew that they couldn’t be that similar through that many candidates that consistently. I went back, challenged them, and said, “Patronize me. Get me your feedback separately. Do not talk to the other.” It didn’t take the next candidate before they both came back to me with wildly different evaluations of the same executive.
I brought that back and shared that with them. I said, “This is the value. If everybody is thinking alike, nobody is thinking, as George Patton said.” In the interviewing process, you want people to give their independent opinion, especially as A-players. At the very end, you can all get together, discuss and defend your positions or ask more questions about somebody else’s position.
The fact is you have to remove all bias. The scorecard will help you do that. No matter how good you are at assessing talent, removing biases reinforces the idea that you can’t see talent. You have to have a process that reveals character, reveals potential, gives you an estimation of that potential, and gives you a much clearer idea. In any time when that is not standardized, is not what A-players, and is not scored accordingly, your potential for making a bad hire goes up astronomically.
As I have shared with people, my teams have hired over 80,000 people. I have a couple of my peers and colleagues that are in the same boat that I am. We have astronomical numbers and had the gift of working at scale. We have gotten to see so much. Each one of us would tell you that the minute we get away from a process, start thinking or say differently, and my ego comes forward and says, “This guy is going to hammer it,” I am throwing everything that I have learned out the window and letting my ego lead the way. That is never a way to pick talent.
Since this is supposed to be short and give you some helpful tips, I would tell you the number one place that standardized questions and a process that helps you in the case of nepotism. Of all of the hires that have gone wildly wrong, especially the senior leader and executive level, are those who have been referred in, buddies, pals or friends of an executive at another firm.
The email that the recruiter, the hiring manager or the team gets is, “This is a rock star. They worked with me at Company ABC and killed it. I know they are going to kill it here. It’s exactly the mindset we need. This is a great character. Great this and great that.” By the time you get done reading the email, you think this candidate has hung the moon. You still must put them through the process.
There are too many examples in pro sports and Corporate America where a number one draft choice or a favorite person from an executive has come into an environment and they have failed miserably. The reason they fail is that everybody simply took it for granted that how they performed in a previous environment is predictive of success in your environment.
Your environment is singularly unique. The people, bureaucracy, culture, and the way of working are different. You have to evaluate even those huge and amazing rock star referrals through the success profile from your A-players with standardized questions and the scorecard. If they are as good as the person who referred them, it should show up on the scorecard. It also says back to all the executives that, “We have a high standard and we are going to put them through the process.”You have to have a hiring process that reveals character potential. Click To Tweet
If you are an executive or senior leader out there and thinking about referring somebody, you need to trust the process, the managers, and your talent acquisition team to evaluate that candidate fairly. There’s nothing worse than taking for granted that they will be successful in a different environment, giving that benefit of the doubt, and selling this person on what a great opportunity this is for them.
Make sure that you define success and you have your 3 to 4 character attributes that define success. Define, assign, and train your A-players. Some people are naturally good at interviews. That’s great but make sure that you train them. Certainly, in this litigious society with so many questions that could trigger snowflakes or candidates, make sure that you have trained them appropriately. The only thing we are discriminating in is performance, how somebody presents themselves, and do they answer and demonstrate the success attributes.
Make sure that each person is assigned a role. Create pressure, remove all your biases, bring everybody together, and select the best candidate. Even when you select the best candidate, the better the process, the more the candidate knows that this is a top-flight organization that she or he wants to work for. Make sure that process is challenging, it’s engaging and personal to the candidate.
Know What You Are Selling
Lastly, I always put the hiring manager at the end. If I start seeing the signs as a talent acquisition specialist, at some point, I’m going to tip off that hiring manager and say, “When you are done, we may want to have another conversation before they leave the building or schedule a subsequent Zoom team meeting.” The last thing is top talent has choices in this market without a doubt. Make sure that the hiring manager and the recruiter know what they are selling.
The opposite of people resigning in the Great Resignation doesn’t necessarily leave bad companies but always leaves bad bosses. If you want to attract people, you’ve got to show people that you are going to be the leader that somebody should work for. I have given this example countless times. I still thank Caroline Atherton of HP for this great interview. I was going to an interview to have a very big role at HP early in my career.
She asked me, “Why the hell should I hire you?” I rattled off a host of reasons. She said, “Do you have any questions?” I said, “Why the hell should I work for you?” It was a pretty bold move at the time but I was secure in my job. I have never gotten a better answer. She, without any hesitation, said, “I am going to help you check every empty block on your resume, grow your career, and be the most well-rounded human resources professional. Nowhere else will you get this experience and investment, and nowhere else are you going to be as challenging.”
Anybody that confident with that answer, she had me hooked. I had done thousands of interviews but it’s still, to me, very much of a gold standard answer. Bosses out there know why somebody should work for you, what you are giving them, what challenges and value you provide, and how you are going to invest in that top talent. It’s harder than ever to hire the best talent. There’s no getting around it.
You don’t want to miss the opportunity by having a biased, half-assed process. You are not distinguishing who is a talent and who is not a talent for your organization. Put in the work before you put together a job description, know success, have a great team, have a great process, and know why somebody should work for you.
It will increase your odds and you get better with every iteration. You won’t be perfect but you will be bringing in the right people that exponentially help your organization. Talent Warriors, until the next time. I hope these tips were helpful. I hope you like this little bit of a shorter version. I wish you the best of success because the one true difference is not the product or the service. It’s your people. When you get that right, everything else is a whole lot easier. Until next time.