You’ve reviewed a hundred resumes. You’ve screened a dozen candidates. You’ve interviewed six solid contenders for the job. Now, how do you now make sure you hire the right person?
Whether you own a business or manage a department, you have to hire the right talent to get the job done. Jeff Hyman has spent his entire career finding the right candidates for the job. I had a chance to speak with him recently about the process that has made him so successful as a recruiter.
Jay Sullivan: What’s the number one mistake people make when they hire the wrong candidate?
Jeff Hyman: Most people and companies don’t appreciate where the starting line is in hiring. We tend to think the process starts with reviewing the resume. In fact, it starts way before that. It starts with understanding who you are as a company. If you don’t know yourself, with a depth of precision and understanding, you can’t possibly hire the right candidate. The process starts with a bit of naval-gazing.
Sullivan: At this point, every company has its mission statement and list of core values. I see them posted in the reception area of every company I visit. Don’t most companies already know who they are?
Hyman: Understanding the essence of your company or organization – what I call your company’s DNA – goes much deeper than what’s on the posters or company website. People don’t read your DNA or memorize it; they live it. It’s in the way they treat each other and their customers. It’s the code of conduct that everyone in the group knows – the elements of performance or behavior that are non-negotiable.
Sullivan: If there are elements that are non-negotiable – an unstated culture of behavior – then why don’t people hire against those standards?
Hyman: Because too often they are exactly that – unstated. It’s important to state them, for the group at large, and most importantly, for those managing your recruiting process. Anyone in a position to contribute to the hiring process has to know in very clear terms, and in consistent terms with the rest of the recruiters, how we define the company’s DNA.
Sullivan: In your new book, Recruit Rockstars, you talk about the essential elements of an effective hiring campaign. What are the top three considerations that help companies hire the top talent?
Hyman: First of all, if your organization isn’t a top-quality place to work, you’re not going to recruit top talent. At that point, recruiting isn’t your problem. Ask yourself, “Does my organization reward top talent appropriately, and is it an environment where “Rockstars” can flourish?
Sullivan: How can I determine that?
Hyman: Ask yourself two questions: First – “Does my company give talented people what they need to succeed?” Second – “How can I get out of the way so they can succeed?” Good leadership in this regard is about serving others, about meeting their needs.
Sullivan: Assuming I’ve created a great place for Rockstars to succeed, what’s next to make sure I hire the right talent?
Hyman: You have to take candidates on a “test drive.” Interviews are great indicators of how well someone interviews, but they tell you little or nothing about how a particular person will perform on the job. They are a necessary pre-cursor to the test drive, but they can’t supplant it.
Sullivan: It sounds complicated and time consuming.
Hyman: It’s definitely more complicated than a traditional interview. But it’s less time consuming than hiring the wrong candidate and then having to start your search over again.
Sullivan: Can you give me an example?
Hyman: I provide a number of them in Recruit Rockstars, but in short, it’s not the same as job shadowing; it’s getting the person to actually do the job. For instance, I once worked with a software company that created different test drives for the various roles they needed to fill. For their sales role, they created mock sales calls. They gave candidates plenty of information and time to prepare, and then had them call to another conference room at the company where employees played the role of customers. They created a number of scenarios. Between each call, they would coach the person on how to improve his or her performance. They then watched to see if the person could incorporate the feedback. When you’re interviewing for a sales role, you’re looking to see how the person reasons and interacts with others. If you’re interviewing for someone in finance, the test drive would look radically different.
Sullivan: If the candidate passes the DNA test, and they perform well in the test drive, what’s the third most important element in the interview process?
Hyman: Make sure your interview team is comparing candidates fairly and on the same criteria. Develop a “scorecard” for the job skills and aptitude needed. Measure all of the candidates against that scorecard. Doing so will help you avoid incorporating “unconscious bias” into the interview process. We all tend to hire people with whom we are comfortable, rather than the person best suited to do the job. Get everyone on the interview team to agree on and commit to using the scorecard.
Sullivan: In Recruit Rockstars, you include a “ten step playbook” for finding the winners. The three steps you’ve highlighted here are a great introduction to that process. In short, we need to 1) focus on who we are as a company (the DNA), 2) define what skills the job itself entails (the scorecard), and 3) incorporate into the interview process a component that will require the candidate to show she or he actually has the skills needed (the Test Drive). Very helpful advice.
Originally published on Forbes.com.