Employers Tips for Hiring

Developing a Strong Job Description

"If you want to hire superior people, first define superior performance."

Everybody wants to hire superior people, don’t they? Then why do so many hiring decisions yield employees who are just average performers at best, and disastrous at worst?

"Having" vs. "Doing"

In the case of these less-than-stellar outcomes, perhaps there’s an underlying cause. Too many hiring managers create job descriptions that are really laundry lists of candidate "requirements." When these lists drive the interview process, hiring results suffer. The selection process becomes focused on what candidates must "have" to get the job, instead of what candidates must "do" once they’re on the job. It’s difficult to hire superior performers in these scenarios because there’s no definition of what superior performance actually is.

The Critical First Step to Hiring the Best

Why is defining superior performance so important?

Because it’s only after you define superior performance that you can write great ads, assess true competency, and close an offer on your terms. You can spend your candidate interview time discussing past accomplishments that are related to the performance you’re seeking. The entire interviewing process becomes a much saner, more enjoyable, and much more productive experience on both sides of the table. And you’ll find it’s much easier to recognize superior candidates when you’ve painted a clear picture of "superior performance."

 

Getting Started with Major Objectives

1.      Make a list of the top 5-8 things a person must do to be successful in the job. These are performance objectives. Focus only on Major Objectives and the interim steps necessary to achieve these objectives. These could include problems to solve, changes to make, team/management objectives, and technical objectives.

2.      Take a look at your current job description in light of the list you’ve created, and convert each "having" requirement into an action-oriented "doing" task.

3.      Put these deliverables into priority order. Tasks are much easier to prioritize than arbitrary lists of skills and experience.

Add Supporting Objectives

Once you set up the Major Objectives for each job, you'll also want to touch on some Supporting Objectives (such as the key steps needed to meet major objectives). You could include some of the following:

  • Management or organizational issues you'd like to see implemented
  • Problems that might arise (or problems that already exist)
  • Technical issues
  • Team and people issues
  • Projects and deliverables

Get S.M.A.R.T.

Once your job description is defined in terms of the tasks you want the employee to do, you’ll need to take each task and turn it into a S.M.A.R.T. objective.

S.M.A.R.T. objectives are:

Specific

Measurable

Action-oriented

Results-focused

Time-based

There are three approaches to developing and using SMART objectives. You can use these approaches separately or--even better--all together to prepare a complete performance profile for each position to be filled.

  • The Macro Approach works best for jobs with lots of projects. This is also known as "The Big Picture" approach, one that has as its subtext the question "What will the incumbent need to do to be successful?" Write measurable objectives for each major job factor, and be sure that supporting objectives are covered.

If you're looking for an underwriting manager, the objectives might include "Lower Loss Ratio by 10 over next 12 months" and "In the next 90 days, upgrade the underwriting and support staff."

  • The Micro Approach works well for technical positions, where there’s often a gap between the "having" and the "doing." Convert each job requirement or skill listed on a traditional job description into a SMART objective by asking what the candidate has done with that particular job requirement or skill.

A basic grounding in PC skills can be translated into a simple objective, such as "Use PCs to develop a new project tracking system." Something like "Design three new products per year" could be a SMART objective that tests for a candidate’s design experience.

  • The Benchmarking Approach works for positions that depend more on process/transaction than on task/project. Examine your best performers in the position you’re trying to fill. Determine what these high-performance employees do that makes them effective, and then make these actions the criteria for your SMART objectives. By drawing only on those who already do the job exceptionally well, you avoid defining performance based on the habits of under-performers who hold the same job title.

Recruiting is the single most important part of the POWER hiring process. It's not something you do at the end of an interview--it starts the moment you begin the interviewing process. If you can't attract the best people, everything else has been a waste of time. You know you have problems if you're consistently paying too much or if candidates frequently say, "I have to think about it," after receiving an offer. Problems occur because many managers stop interviewing and begin selling as soon as they find someone they like. Once you start selling, you stop learning!

Recruiting is more marketing than selling. If you oversell, over-talk, and under-listen you'll either lose the best candidates or pay too much. From this point onward, you won't learn anything new about the candidate other than what he or she wants you to know. You talk more and the candidate talks less. You lose complete control of the interview. This cheapens the job and makes the candidate more expensive. Try to create a compelling opportunity and make the candidate earn the job! When you do this, candidates will sell you.

The Top Ten Tips for Effective Recruiting

1.      Create a compelling vision of the job with a carefully written Performance Profile. If you present the job, without pressure, as a significant long-term and exciting opportunity, candidates will want to sell or convince you about their skills, instead of you having to sell them.

2.      Don't talk about money before the interview. It will only become a filter to exclude the best. Delay salary discussion until after the first meeting or when inviting the candidate back for a second one. Use their acceptance of a salary range as their ticket to come back for the next interview.

3.      Don't talk for 15 minutes about the great merits of the job. This is overselling. Some managers think they can sell or charm a candidate into taking a job, which is not recruiting. Effective recruiting is indirect and subtle. While it's true that you need to convince a candidate to take a job, you can't accomplish this task with a superficial sales pitch.

4.      Discuss the great merits of the job in one-minute sound bites before each question. To do this, the hiring manager should have a complete understanding of the job to be filled, as well as an awareness of the candidate's suitability for it.

5.      Create an opportunity gap. Paint a picture of what the candidate will learn by taking this job. This should be done before you've asked too many questions.

6.      Test a candidate's interest throughout the process by asking challenging questions.

7.      Remember: The more interviews you have, the more vested interests the candidate has in accepting an offer.

8.      Test all offers before making them formal. Ask, "What would you think about an offer of $___?" Prepare a preliminary offer and test every aspect before making it formal. The worst thing you can do is to extend an untested offer and then wait for a response. You've lost control and prevented open communications. If you hear "I have to think about it," it means you've moved too fast. You want candidates to think about it when you're in control, well before the offer is actually made.

9.      Always listen. Letting the candidate talk and respond to fact-finding questions clearly demonstrates your interest in their candidacy.

10.  Stay in touch. You should follow up with the candidate every few days after an offer is accepted.

And there are other Recruiting Tips to keep in mind, like trying to get concessions at every stage. As a candidate advances in the interview process, develop agreement on aspects of the offer at every step. That way, closing the deal is a natural part of the interview process--not just at the end when you have less leverage. In particular, don't move too fast. This may frighten away good candidates. All job changes require thought, so don't push too hard. Let the candidates absorb your opportunity at their own speed.

Overcoming Objections

Expect for things to go wrong, because they always do! The purpose of testing the offer is to uncover objections. You're then positioned to negotiate the item in an open, non-confrontational style. You won't close everyone this way, but you'll close more than you expect. You'll also know why someone didn't accept your offer. Once the offer is extended, of course, open communications effectively cease.

Here are a few typical objections, and how to overcome them:

 

  • Not enough money. Change focus from tactical short-term issues to long-term opportunities: ask if the candidate is making a tactical or strategic decision.
  • What are the promotional opportunities? Tell them, "Promotions are based on your performance and business opportunities. You'll be given as much as you can handle."
  • The job isn't big enough. Focus on what needs to be done and the job's overall importance. Review and/or add performance targets.
  • The long-term opportunity doesn't seem strong enough. To overcome this, bring a candidate back for a strategic overview. Get a senior executive to describe your company growth plans.

We all know that the circumstances involved with recruiting are not perfect. We never have enough money; the best candidates have multiple opportunities elsewhere; you're always vulnerable to counter-offers. But following our tips can at least help to level the playing field--and make us all better recruiters.

Negotiation

Expect for things to go wrong, because they always do! The purpose of testing the offer is to uncover objections. You're then positioned to negotiate the item in an open, non-confrontational style. You won't close everyone this way, but you'll close more than you expect. You'll also know why someone didn't accept your offer. Once the offer is extended, of course, open communications effectively cease.

Here are a few typical objections, and how to overcome them:

  • Not enough money. Change focus from tactical short-term issues to long-term opportunities: ask if the candidate is making a tactical or strategic decision.
  • What are the promotional opportunities? Tell them, "Promotions are based on your performance and business opportunities. You'll be given as much as you can handle."
  • The job isn't big enough. Focus on what needs to be done and the job's overall importance. Review and/or add performance targets.
  • The long-term opportunity doesn't seem strong enough. To overcome this, bring a candidate back for a strategic overview. Get a senior executive to describe your company growth plans.

We all know that the circumstances involved with recruiting are not perfect. We never have enough money; the best candidates have multiple opportunities elsewhere; you're always vulnerable to counter-offers. But following our tips can at least help to level the playing field--and make us all better recruiters.

 

 

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