Interviewing for Retention: Keys to Successful Hiring for Long Term
If you have the responsibility of recruiting in your firm you know how time consuming it can be – from placing the ad to sourcing the resumes, screening and scheduling interviews – it’s a full-time job.
Nothing is more frustrating than watching one of your best and brightest walk out the door to a “better opportunity”. You know the one I’m talking about – this is the one you spent months recruiting for and they have outperformed since day one – and now you have to start the whole process over.
I believe the key to retaining employees starts in the interview process – if it’s hiring a rock star or making a poor hire, it all begins with the interview.
You have but a few hours to decide if the person has the knowledge skills and abilities to perform the functions of the job. Does this person have the right temperament, attitude and will they fit in with the company culture?
This means you need to make sure enough people in the organization is part of the process and that your interviewers are asking the right questions and using appropriate listening techniques so they know who they are hiring.
The first thing a good interviewer needs to realize is that preparations for the interview process starts long before you sit in a room with a potential candidate. The process starts by determining why this job exist – what benefit does it provide to the company, what are the essential functions and what does your ideal employee look like – not physically but what knowledge, skills and abilities does this person need to succeed.
Once you have a clear picture of this position, then you need to set the goals of the hiring process – determine the purpose of the interviews. First, you want to know if the candidate has the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform the job. Do they have the education or experience necessary? Do they have the necessary motivation and problem-solving abilities?
Develop questions to ask the candidates that will answer those questions. Prepare your questions in advance and think of the answer you are looking to get from a candidate by asking the question. How will that question help you determine if this candidate is the right fit?
Second, develop questions to get to know the person. You don’t want people who seem entitled, are so thin-skinned that every little thing rubs them the wrong way, or are completely unaware of their weaknesses and issues that they lack the ability to learn from mistakes or receive constructive criticism.
This area is a bit more difficult to gauge, as there aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers – there are only questions and answers that may help you get a sense of the “authentic person” you are considering for the job.
Third, develop questions that will tell you what the candidate has accomplished in the past. This may indicate what they will accomplish in the future.
And lastly, will they fit in at your company? It’s a pretty safe bet that if you misjudged the importance of this, the consequences will ultimately cost you a lot. Skills can be taught, goals can change, but a person who creates problems by not fitting in with the existing team is the wrong choice.
The best way to get to know the person you’re interviewing and gain a proper understanding of what they’re about is to listen to what they have to say. Good interviewers have honed the skill of listening. If you want to learn about a candidate you must spend most of interview time listening to the candidate – you can gather much more information about the candidate by allowing them to talk.
Listen for indicators of the candidates self-perception. What do candidates descriptions and assessments of their qualifications and experiences tell you about how they view themselves?
A bad hire can result in not getting to know your candidate and not getting enough people or the right people, involved in the selection process. This may result in hiring someone who does not fit in the organization or the organization does not fit the candidates career path. Either way, it can result in turnover.
After the interview, complete your rating immediately – write up detailed notes so that other interviewers can benefit from your insights. Talk to everyone who had contact with the candidate. Find out what others – like the receptionist – thought of the candidate. Someone might put on a terrific show in the interview but be rude in the lobby. Have debriefing meetings and compare notes with the other interviewers and discuss the differences.
Planning and preparation are essential to a winning interview process and hiring employees for the long term. Having interviewed and hired people for hundreds of positions over the years, I can say one thing for sure – you must prepare for the hiring process.
About the Author
Barbara Trumbly has 25 years of diverse human resources and management experience that spans start-ups and established organizations. She has extensive hands-on experience leading HR initiatives including policy design, compensation, performance management, recruiting, compliance reporting, HRIS implementations, training and development, and benefit management.
Barbara has spent the last ten years delivering consulting and outsourced human resources services to successful businesses throughout California in various industries including high tech, insurance agencies, law firms, medical, marketing, and finance.
Barbara holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Northwestern California University, is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR/SHRM-SCP). She holds her California Life license and is a Certified Group Benefits Associate through the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist program.