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Everyone has experienced that disappointment of a new employee not meeting the expectations for them when they were recruited and hired. What went wrong with your process? How could you have made such a bad selection?

Using behavioral competencies in the recruitment and hiring process:

Bias can be a powerful negative influence on the hiring process is an important concept often overlooked by many organizations. Biases prevent us from seeing people and things clearly and often have an undue influence on our judgments and decisions.

  • Biases prevent us from seeing people and things clearly and often have an undue influence on our judgments and decisions.
  • LEADERS HAVE had enough success in their careers to know that they are good judges of character and make excellent hiring decisions.

The right employee’s in the right jobs at the table is crucial. The ability to predict a candidate’s potential for success with certainty is key to a company’s success.

  • Too often, leaders let candidates generalize and share platitudes about what they have done, thinking they are getting a good feel for the candidate.
  • Knowing how to get verifiable information from a candidate that provides you with the ability to predict whether or not the candidate will be successful is important.
  • Hiring employee’s who will be a good fit for the culture and style of the organization can make the difference between success and failure.
  • Hiring employee’s who can make the cultural or organizational corrections critical for an organization’s survival may be essential.
  • Too often leaders allow first impressions and gut feelings to take the place of a rigorous selection process.
  • The key to building a great team is in hiring the right people for the right positions in the first place.

The first step in building a great team starts with who you hire:

  • Not all candidates are equally qualified or productive as employees.
  • Not everyone will fit into your organization’s culture.
  • Not everyone has had the experiences that build the skills that fit your job requirements.
  • Most people treat interviewing as an event, rather than a process.
  • Who is more prepared going into an interview, the candidate or the interviewer?

8 Steps For Hiring The Right Candidate


1. Define the job’s requirements

Taking the time to do a formal analysis of a position’s requirements can make a huge difference. In one experiment, three groups were asked to select six competencies from a list of defined competencies and then put them in the order of importance. Each of the groups made a prioritized list. Then they were asked to conduct a position analysis using a simple tool to rate a series of behaviors. The result was that the “wing-it” list and the list that resulted from the position analysis were not even close. When asked which list was correct, the overwhelming response was that the position analysis effort was much more reflective of what was essential for success in the job. The reason was that when each of the groups selected from the list, they were not as objective as when they looked at specific behaviors. A thorough job analysis, taking several days, is viewed by experts as the most preferred approach. Yet, an objective approach taking less than an hour can yield results almost as good and just as defensible. The bottom line is that the best prediction achievable for structured interviews would be obtained where structured interview questions are based on a formal job analysis rather than a less systematic assessment of job requirements.

2. Use a structured work-related interview

Structured interviews, if preceded by thorough job analysis, can be developed to tap the many skill and ability areas required for the job. Structured interviews are more than twice as effective as unstructured interviews. Creating a structured interview based on a job analysis takes the effectiveness to the next level, increases the reliability of results, and is far more defensible. Why do structured interviews have higher levels of validity? One theory is that they are better at assessing other factors related to success on the job. Simply speaking, two researchers found that the typical unstructured interview, conducted by an experienced interviewer, had a reliability of predicting job performance of about 15-30%. They also found that a structured past-event interview, based on job analysis and using rating guides, could be 87% reliable in predicting job performance.

3. Use past event interview technique

A large number of studies have shown that the use of experience-based interview questions (questions about how a candidate has handled specific situations in the past) that are job-related produce the best results in predicting a candidate’s potential for success in the job. In addition, studies have shown that experience-based interviews had little impact on, and were equally valid for, subgroups (White, Black, Hispanic, male, and female). Several things need to be done for past-event interviews to be effective:

  • Get verifiable information from candidates, including who would have been aware of this event and where and when it took place.
  • Make sure that the challenge the candidate faced, the action they took, and the result they got is clear.
  • Also, seek contrary examples to get a balanced picture of the candidate.
  • Use silence effectively to allow the candidate time to think.
  • Take good notes. Try to write down as much of what the candidate says as possible. A team interview will help, but if you have an assistant who can take shorthand or clear notes, assign him or her to take notes as a backup.

4. Use a team interview

Panel interviews were more valid than individual interviews. So what is the big deal? The traditional interviews most managers conduct will not keep your company ahead of the power curve. If you want to improve your ability to hire the right people for the right positions, structured panel interviews add a lot of value. Use a team of two or three team members—no more—each participating in the interview at the same time. Using a team interview that is structured can have a number of benefits:

  • Minimizing error and bias;
  • Hearing the same information at the same time;
  • The synergy of helping each other probe more effectively;
  • Helping each other stay legal, and;
  • Sharing note-taking duties.

There are pitfalls in conducting team interviews. Overcoming them requires a conscious effort, especially at the executive level. Effective interviewing is not an intuitive process and interviewers need to be trained to be effective interviewers. Interviewers need to follow a structured process, asking specific questions based on specific examples of how the candidate has handled specific situations in the past. Disagreement on candidate fit must be supported by specific, verifiable examples presented by the candidate rather than a gut feeling or impression. Ask each interviewer to resist early judgment in the interview, gather the examples for each of the interview questions, and then rate the responses against the competencies.

5. Control your first impressions

Most people feel they can read people well and that their first impression is all it takes to make a good hiring decision. Yet bias and error by interviewers is a key reason for interviewing failure. Without the use of scientific tools and effective training, interviewers will often make hiring decisions based on “gut feelings” and intuition. Gut feelings and intuition should be used to make probing more effective. In one study, researchers found that interviewers tended to spend their interviews confirming their first impressions of job applicants. Interviewers gathered little information about a candidate, and if the first impression was positive, they tended to spend much of their time with the candidate selling the company and giving job information. Don’t get trapped into making “trait interpretations,” which, at the typical interview level, are a combination of gut feelings and pop psychology. Using words like attractive, sharp, and confident as descriptors for a candidate are unverifiable interpretations. The concepts in this book are focused on an approach of gathering examples of a candidate’s past experiences in a verifiable and objective manner.

6. Use rating guides in advance

“I’ll know it when I see it” has been a common refrain from senior executives as they have worked their way through the interview process. Yet, research from several sources suggests that establishing rating guides in advance is vital for a sound interview process and hiring decision. You will note that the interview questions provided in the back of the book include behaviorally anchored ratings and a positive and negative rating guide. The difference between an interview built on a job analysis that links the interview questions and the rating guides and one that doesn’t is profound. Decreasing subjectivity and increasing objectivity are significant steps toward the scientific end of the selection spectrum. When interviewers have rating guides and a way to consistently rate the responses of a candidate, the reliability of results goes way up. That results in the need for fewer interviews since any one team of interviewers will get essentially the same results as any other team of interviewers.

7. Have your interview team rate your candidates

The use of consensus rating has been demonstrated to result in levels of validity significantly higher than the other approaches. Why? Some researchers believe that when interviewers use a consensus rating, they are accountable to their peers and, hence, are more accurate in their ratings. Consensus ratings offer the raters the opportunity to point out specific aspects of a candidate’s responses. The consensus rating plays a key role in getting the right candidate. When interviewers and raters know they will have to meet and be accountable to their reasons for the fit of the candidate, they become more objective and thorough in their interviewing efforts.

8. Reference checks are important for hiring your New Employee

Once you have checked references and verified certificates, work experience, and background checks, it’s time to make a decision. Once you’ve made your decision, prepare a written offer, agree on a compensation package that is suitable, and schedule a start date once you’ve received written acceptance. However, if no candidates were found appropriate, start the process again. Don’t settle on the best of the worst.