One of the world’s most renowned oil well fighters, Paul Neal “Red” Adair, and his team battled more than 2,000 fires across the globe throughout his storied fifty-year career. His reputation for never having met a fire he couldn’t cap earned him the nickname “Hellfire,” which later became the title of his biopic starring John Wayne. Incredibly, Red never lost an employee while putting out oil well or gas fires and is credited with saying, “If you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs.”
While the fires you and your team are putting out are likely metaphorical in nature this holiday season, a bad hire can severely impact your company’s culture and effectiveness. Companies spend massive amounts of time, money, and other resources on recruiting strategies to attract top talent. If you are in the position to hire, regardless of whether or not you have chosen to partner with a search firm, following a trusted interview process will help you pick the ideal candidate for the role, your team, and the future of your company as a whole.
Kicking off any search process requires a job description that will attract the strongest active and passive candidates in the marketplace. Just as a candidate’s resume is a reflection of his or her work product, so too is your company’s job specification. An inaccurate or partial posting could lead to resumes from unqualified or underqualified candidates you now have to vet and reject. Taking time at the front-end of the search to crystalize the role’s short and long-term objectives will help attract the right candidates and ensure the rest of the interview process runs more efficiently.
Once you have qualified candidates to interview, your team should draft thoughtful, open-ended questions that will produce concrete examples as to how candidates’ past experiences will lead to success in the role. Remember that being a good interviewee doesn’t necessarily mean that candidate is best suited for the job. To avoid a charisma pitfall, tailor your questions toward soft skills like ability to learn new things, aptitude to work independently or with a team, affinity for creative problem solving, and communication style when under stress or pressure. Keep your interviews conversational and bear in mind that experience is good, but a good cultural fit will play a critical part in the longevity of this hire.
As you move candidates through the process, involve key team members to the extent you can to help get a 360-degree view of your prospective new employees. Oftentimes, your current employees will have a different vantage point on the day-to-day responsibilities for the open position and can share valuable insights as to how the prospects would actually fare at the job.
Randy Conley, Vice President of Client Services for The Ken Blanchard Companies, a leadership development firm, wrote, “I wouldn’t hire any new employee without the input of other people on my team…I’ve found that involving my team in the hiring process has proven the truth of the adage that ‘no one of us is as smart as all of us.’” Integrating team members’ feedback not only gives them interviewing and decision-making experience, but also creates a sense of ownership in the new employee’s success. Additionally, the candidates themselves get the added benefit of a multi-faceted look into the role and the company as a whole.
Many firms are looking to incorporate assessment tools during the interview process in an effort to increase productivity, cost savings and employee retention. There is an ever-expanding roster of talent assessments attempting to make the hiring process more economical by accurately forecasting job performance for a given role. Assessments can be helpful resources, but you want to make sure to use them in the right way.
Once you have identified critical work competencies for a position, you can select assessments that measure the most pivotal work activities for the ideal hire to be successful. While this is a rapidly changing landscape due to technological advances, exercise caution when it comes to implementing assessments. Since no test is foolproof, rather than using assessments as a means to eliminate candidates, you are better served using the results as a way to dig deeper in the interview and learn more about the prospects sitting in front of you.
Lastly, take the time to evaluate and learn from your hiring processes. James Clear, author of Tiny Habits, wrote, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Each new employee is an opportunity to improve your company’s hiring methodology. Assess what works well and what doesn’t to ensure each new candidate has a great experience interviewing with your company, whether you hire them or not. This is imperative because you are not just recruiting employees; you are cementing your firm’s reputation in the marketplace. Positive candidate experiences are widely shared throughout social networks and can help generate a consistent pipeline of highly sought-after talent for future roles.
When it comes to putting out fires, whether it’s on an oil well or in the boardroom, having the right team of professionals in place is vital. Red Adair certainly appreciated the value of process and assembling the right team for a project. Creating and constantly re-evaluating the system through which you attract and retain top talent will help you bring the right people together to breathe new life into your mission statement and take your company to greater heights.
The Hiatt Group is a full-service boutique executive search firm passionate about building high-functioning teams poised to perform. That’s why we dive deep into each search to identify not just the technical skills but also the soft skills and personality traits best suited to ensure the right fit. Our approach is part science, part intuition and part plain old hard work.
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