Feb 3, 2005

Hiring mistakes

My answers to some questions a magazine posed me a couple of years ago...

· Do you think the good old face to face interview practice needs to be changed?

Yes it does have to change. It should remain face to face but be a lot more structured. HR departments need to be able to sense an interviewee’s behavioral preferences. They should use a lot of “what if…” :what would you do…?” “why?” questions rather than ask about “what” and “how” questions focused on the past and based on the CV.

· Why/why not and what are the options?

Companies could use a lot more case studies and group hiring techniques. They could also use ‘work one day on the job’ so that the interviewee gets a feel of the place, his boss and subordinates.

· Could you give an anecdote (not necessarily within your current company) in which a better evaluation technique could have helped avoid a hiring mistake?

Most hiring mistakes happen when both sides do not gauge the requirements of the other side. In one case a candidate with the requisite skills was hired into a fresh team of a company. Even though she had the competencies that the job demanded of her, there were two major differences that both the sides ignored putting any attention to , or to clarify. She had come in from a process oriented company where everyone knew of the field. Here she was going to be in a fresh team that was starting off and had to put processes in place. In the previous job her profile had been to interface and build business with external customers while in this job she had to interface with internal customers, which eventually led to her frustration and quitting the job in 4 months.

· Could you outline some best practises that will help avoid hiring mistakes?

Both sides need to clarify the job down to the last detail. The candidate should meet and spend some time with prospective peer group and boss. The prospect should also find out how critical is the job, who did it earlier, scope for growth and learning, how will performance be evaluated etc. Remember, most hirees leave on account of interpersonal problems with the team working already , or because what was promised and what was delivered wasn’t clear. Both sides need to explore and clarify their assumptions before they jump in to the joining. Costs of not doing so could be not just monetary but far worse like ill-feeling and a bad taste in the mouth.