Training & Development

Hiring can make or break you — choose wisely

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What’s one of the most expensive transactions that businesses often forget? Selection of talent. It should be a mandatory skill for managers.

When someone is hired and they don’t work out, everyone loses: The organization, the manager and the employee.

If you have taken over as a manager you have likely inherited a worker who wasn’t your hire. Yet, someone did hire the person. Why? Obviously, the hiring manager at the time felt the person would do well. But here is where it can get costly: As most of us know, it can take minutes to hire and years to fire.

Selection of talent is an area I have struggled with sometimes. I fall into the trap of liking a certain characteristic of an applicant enough that I miss red flags. For example, I’ve hired someone with great passion but missed the fact that they didn’t have the other strong skills to do the job.  Years ago, after an extremely bad hire situation by me which was painful for both sides, I surrendered and found help.

I needed to learn how to hire better.

The selection of talent has many steps, but I’ll focus today on the use of behavioral-based questions to make sure the fit is right. A note of caution: No system is 100 percent. Even when using the best, most evidence-based selection process, there will be times when the fit is just not there.

However, maximizing a company’s skill in selection can save the carousel of pain that arrives with a poorly managed hire – a bad hire affects the organization, the supervisor, co-workers, customers and the hired employee.

So, what are behavioral based questions? They are ways to learn how an applicant has handled situations in the past which can help the interviewer evaluate how the applicant will handle similar situations in the future. Behavior-based questions can give us a more in-depth glimpse into a skill set that’s hard to glean from a resume and cover letter.

The behavior-based questions typically fall into these categories: Teamwork, customer service, problem solving, time management skills, communication skills and motivation/values. (While this column is focused on supervisors, interviewees should pay attention. Examples of these kinds of questions are on numerous websites.) I’ll give you an example for each category.

Teamwork. Provide me with a time when you struggled while working on a team. How did you handle that?

Customer service. Share a time when you made sure a customer was satisfied with the service.

Problem solving: Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work. What was taking place and how did you get through it?

Time management: Give me an example of a time when you had to complete numerous tasks. How did you handle that?

Communication: Tell me about a time you had to explain something so someone at work would understand it better.

Motivation and Values: Describe a situation when you saw a problem and took time to correct it rather than waiting to hear from another person to do so.

If you are on the receiving end of behavioral-based questions, the most common suggested way to organize your response is often called the STAR method. This stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results.

Situation: Describe the situation (who, what, when, where and how). Task: Review the task you had to complete with focus on the challenges faced. Action: Share the actions taken to get the task done. Result: Close strong with the results of your action.

Hiring well isn’t easy, but it’s vital to an organization’s success.