Interviewing skills are essential for all HR and hiring managers and yet, sometimes we get it wrong. Interviewing for the right fit – for both the job and the organisation is essential HR practice.
We invited Sharon Clews, an experienced Recruitment and HR consultant and blogger, who has just completed a major recruitment project within a retail financial services organisation, to share her experiences of how to get it right…
“Hiring for technical skill over organisational fit or attitude can have detrimental consequences which reach wider than just the role you are hiring for. I learned this lesson when I hired a very talented designer for a pivotal role. As it turned out his attitude was so disruptive to co-workers and customers that his superior skill set wasn’t worth the trade off! This in no way means that you can’t have both. It does mean that particularly in technical roles, you must look for more than just skills. If you come across someone with both the right fit and the skills to match, hire them immediately!
The answer is out there, and it’s looking for you
Before you go in all guns blazing asking the deer-in-the-headlights candidate how they are going to fit in with you, you need to be clear and exacting about what they need to fit with.
- Make sure whoever is interviewing understands the position you are hiring for; what the organisational culture, values and expectations are. You really need to be interviewing before you interview!
- Is the Organisational Chart clear and up to date? Could you share it in an interview? Is it very clear who the new candidate is reporting to?
- Understand what the candidate drivers are. Is it the flexibility of the role; to work for a great organisation, money, benefits? Get to the bottom of why they are there. To that end, find out what their values are. Do they match with the core values of the business?
- Use behavioural questioning in your interview process. Ask the candidate specific questions to see how they did, not how they think they will do! These questions will provide examples of where they have been successful at something similar to the work they will be doing for you. Questions like “Tell me about a time when you had to manage a staff member for poor performance”. You want an answer that tells you the candidate has done this before.
- Are you recruiting for a particular type of person? Do you need an introvert, an extrovert; linear or lateral person? You need to be clear about the type of people who make up the existing team. Too many of the same type of person might not bring the best results. How well does the hiring manager understand the dynamics of the team?
- Does the organisation, the role or the industry need to overcome any perception issues?
- Try and dig out any hidden agendas a Manager might have about hiring a particular style of person.
It’s the future Jim, but not as we know it!
So, it just may be that you know all about what is happening in your company, but remember the candidate doesn’t. Will this job stay the same, will it change? Are there factors about the role you can share with the candidate without selling the farm? A few things to consider:
- What’s next? Is it business as usual, or are you hiring to instigate change?
- If it is about to change, do you need to identify a Change Champion for your role? Is this the right person?
- Does this person have leadership qualities? Is that what you are looking for?
- Alternatively, are you looking for someone who has the ability to remain constant; to be the stabilising force within the team? You can ask them a range of behavioural questions and their responses will put them firmly in one camp or another.
Oh no, I’ve inherited a tragedy!
It may well be that you don’t have the pleasure of interviewing for the people you want on your team. You may be the new person and the team aren’t all that happy about it! It’s still OK to interview them, in fact I recommend it. There is no need to interview as you would for a specific job, but meet one on one and ask some of the same behavioural questions you would to a candidate. As a manager it shows you are interested in your people. If you truly have inherited a tragedy, you have my empathy!
Stay sane by:
- Setting clear expectations. Have a list of types of behaviour you will and won’t accept and some boundaries around performance, contribution, accountability and responsibility. We’re all humans, we love knowing what kind of boundaries there are, even if it is just to break them!
- If all else fails, are there alternate roles that can be done by this bunch? Can you provide some more Learning and Development opportunities for them? Perhaps they need a conversation about re-thinking their career.
Show me the money!
Having the best team members in your business, with matching values and standards makes for a happy place. If you are clear about organisational values and the values you want from your employees, then it’s a match made in heaven. A well matched candidate and company makes for congruous, cohesive teams. Research has shown that teams like this achieve higher productivity levels. As managers, we all know these things equal peace. A well matched team will make it easier for Workforce Planning, Organisational Development and Succession Planning, to name a few. For many years I have said, recruit for attitude; train for skill. You can teach anyone how to do anything, but you can’t teach excellent attitude. It’s innate. Look for it in your candidates and you’ll add some wonderful people to your teams.”
Sharon Clews is a freelance Human Resources, business and change management professional with over twenty years’ experience across a variety of industries in medium sized business, both in the UK and Australia.