In a very real sense, you won’t know whether your ideal candidate will turn out to be your ideal employee until several months post-hire. A lot of factors are at play: the personality of the new hire; the personality of the new boss; the personalities of various coworkers, including those in key positions; the workplace culture; the job duties (which may or may not match the employee’s pre-hire expectations); the length of the employee’s commute; the general physical work environment, including the attractiveness of the workspace; and the convenience of the surrounding neighborhood.
Considering all that, there is absolutely no way any hiring manager could predict with certainty how well a potential hire will perform or for how long. The workplace is a dynamic, changing system, and people change right along with it.
However, none of this means the pursuit of good hiring practices is a waste of time. On the contrary. While hiring is inherently risky, it’s not a crap shoot. Certain proactive moves can reduce the risk and could even lead to your very best hire yet.
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many hiring managers start a search without a clear idea of what needs doing and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required to do it. As a result, they end up hiring the wrong person for the wrong role.
For example, consider the company that hires its first senior level HR professional (a little something I know about), without really wrestling with the fact that other senior staff is in no way, shape, or form prepared to follow this HR pro’s lead. Because the staff has been doing as they please for years, input from HR is regarded as more hindrance than help. It’s a recipe for sure frustration for all parties involved that could have been avoided had the organization done the proper groundwork, including preparing the staff for the new role HR would be playing within the organization.
Have you ever hired someone who looked great on paper and interviewed like a champ but then performed like a dud? I have. After that experience I vowed never again, and to keep that vow I started formally testing candidates on what they said they knew. Talk about eye opening! However, skills testing is only part of the equation. Behavioral assessments, which reveal behavioral tendencies that will enhance or detract from job performance, are another smart move. If the job requires a certain level of, say, assertiveness, detail orientation, or extroversion, a behavioral assessment can help determine whether your candidate actually possesses those traits.
It’s easy to get swept into the excitement that comes after you’ve interviewed your “perfect” candidate, but a good interview alone does not a sound hire make. Solid references ensure your perfect candidate isn’t hiding a seriously imperfect background. There’s no need to go overboard by looking under every rock for the smallest speck of dirt, but it’s important to verify job history and previous job titles and duties. Individuals who tell untruths about where they worked and what they did are best avoided.
A survey by Equifax showed that more than half the employees who left their jobs in 2013 did so within the first 12 months. This statistic should give every hiring manager pause.
Hiring is an investment of time, energy, and money, and when someone leaves just a few months into the new job, that’s a huge loss. The unenlightened manager might tell himself that “hiring is a crap shoot” and accept the loss with a shrug before moving on, but savvy managers will take a different approach. While no hiring process is foolproof, there are steps you can take to ensure more successful hiring and, ultimately, better employee retention.