As an HR professional, I have to admit hiring is not my favorite sport. Yet, I believe it is the single most important decision a company makes when building a team, or at least ranks right up there. If you’re going to go through the process of hiring, ROI should be a key factor. A great hire adds to the company and team; conversely, a poor hire yields a poor ROI as I wind up going through the hiring process all over again. So, over my decades in HR, I’ve become quite good at screening and reading people before they become employees. Because, once they’re on board….it’s a different ball game if the wrong person was hired.
Recruiting and hiring is one of the numerous responsibilities I have, so obviously the more time I spend here the less time I have to focus elsewhere. Hiring well means the company gains a valuable employee and I can check it off my list. No need to revisit; however, if I hire poorly I can promise that new hire will become a frequent visitor in HR. Early in my career, I had many more frequent visitors than I do now. Of course in my much earlier days, I was far more focused on the paper trail and making sure I had everything filled out and filed correctly. I also had not figured out that my intuition was pretty spot on, nor had I even learned to rely on it. My knowledge today is a product of my collective experiences of countless yesterdays. Learning how to listen to what isn’t on paper, or not necessarily verbalized is just as important, if not more so. Spending quality time up front to identify the best candidate for the role, team, and company is time well spent.
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” Albert Einstein
A bad hire is not as easy to fix. My secret wish is always that the person will simply quit, but that never happens. When the person finally leaves, rework begins as the hiring process, for the SAME role, starts over. There are many companies that are perfectly okay with their hiring process, even though it results in high turnover, poor morale, and a lousy reputation as a place to work. It is not an attitude I promote given the cost associated with a poor hire.
Every bad hire costs the company. Financially for sure, but poor hiring also dings your morale, hurts the culture, is probably biting the company somewhere along the lines of quality, cost control, losses, and even worker’s comp (yup, but that’s another topic). It also slowly eats away at the company’s credibility in terms of the ability to identify and recruit employees that contribute to the success of the team. The worse your hiring practices are, the worse your reputation for hiring becomes. And, by the way, as this opinion takes shape it isn’t applied solely to the company, employees will also begin to believe the hiring manager is incompetent. Sorry, it’s true. I’ve listened to enough employees speak poorly of their company and specific people to know this is precisely what happens. These developing reputations permeate into the community, as well. If the company is known for hiring slackers, guess who shows up more frequently looking for a job? Slackers. The great folks don’t want to work alongside people that do not contribute. So, besides the monetary cost (which is nothing to sneeze at), the company reputation suffers, and repairing that is not an easy task.
I know…you needed someone yesterday! Most companies wait to hire until they’re sure they need to add to their headcount (or payroll aka labor costs). It’s not abnormal or bad business. Recruiting and hiring begins after the need is established, which only introduces greater pressure for HR to work their magic. If you’re like me you know finding people isn’t difficult; it’s finding great people that want to be part of the culture, part of building a company that’s tough! Nonetheless, it’s your job so you roll up your sleeves and begins sourcing candidates fighting the urge to hire quickly because managers are breathing down your neck. Don’t cave!
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Albert Einstein
I’ve learned the hard way (experience) and now know (knowledge) that taking the time to really screen candidates has far greater benefits to the company than the alternative. When done well the chances of a great hire significantly increase. When you purposefully hire to create a team of great people, you are well on your way to building an exceptional team, a high-performing team.
What is purposeful hiring? It’s patience and diligence in screening resumes and making time to interview (get to know) candidates. By that, I mean engaging with a spirit of mindfulness and authenticity over several interviews. It is taking note of body language, tone, eye contact, and authenticity in their words, their focus on you, their presence, etc. while speaking with the person. It’s involving different folks in the company during the multiple interviews, and even conducting the interview at different locations. This is the company’s opportunity to experience candidates scheduling ability, the level of commitment, punctuality, the level of effort their willingness to invest in learning about the job and company, and other tiny nuance that can inform you.
In the end, our team of interviewers meet to compare experiences and when we unilaterally agree on a candidate, we move forward with a job offer. When we don’t, we invest more time in the process. The very few times I’ve shortchanged this process it’s resulted in regret. That regret, or experience, is the root of the confidence in my knowledge. There’s a saying that I’m sure you’ve heard, “slow to hire, fast to fire”. You’ll spend less time in the latter area of that phrase by spending more time in the former.
Andrea Vaughan, SPHR | Outside-Force BDF