The Seven Steps to Hiring - Part 2
I have had a lot of great feedback from the readers that immediately put into action the tips and tricks suggested in Part I and hope Part II will be just as handy.
For those managers that are struggling to make great hires, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a skill and like with any skill it takes time and practice in order to find your way. It is unlikely that you have had any training on Hiring or a ton of experience so do the best with what you know. Be sure to reach out to support from your managers, HR team, mentors, experts. You will be surprised how many people get a lot from sharing their best practices on what they are passionate about.
As a refresh, I identified the 7 Steps to a good hire as;
- Identify needed resource/skill set
- Summarise need in a written job description (JD)
- Post JD and expand the network through experts
- Review CVs
- Interview qualified applicants
We ended Part 1 with Posting the job. So for context at this point you have clarified what you need, written a clear JD, posted said JD and engaged in some helpful recruiters to support the process.
4) Review CVs
You may have found yourself in one of the following places;
- Have had a record breaking amount of applicants and you keep procrastinating the review process. There are ways to reduce number of applicants, the most simple is adding set requirements (Visas, Education, etc) for the role in your Applicant System (if you have one) unfortunately there are some people that will apply despite being a poor fit.
- Have almost no applicants. If you haven’t engaged a recruiter now is the time. Some companies have really great employer brand value and have people lining up to apply. If you don’t have that luxury this is when you really want to lean on your network, both internally and externally. You have to take responsibility for getting this in front of the right people. Think like they think and help recruiters and HR teams understand what would pull in the right candidate. What sites would they be on and definitely NOT be on. Help them help you.
Regardless of which case you find yourself in, you still have some CVs to review. Here are some basic good practice when reviewing CVs.
I should note that you can only do this well when you have a clear criteria of what you are looking for, which is why Step 2 is essential.
- Try to spend no more than 1 minute doing the first review. You want to do your best to get a small pile of ‘likely’. This means doing a quick pass of who definitely doesn’t make the cut. Ensure you get back to them immediately to save yourself time in the future and ensure the candidates have a good experience.
- When I have a lot of CVs to review I use a Red, Yellow, Green coding system.
- Red — definite no (takes me probably 15 seconds to assess this),
- Yellow — maybe I’ll have to go back and review the CV in more detail.
- Green — Yes! Meets >80% of the criteria at first glance.
3) After your initial review step away and take a break. Clear your head reflect on what you have learned in the initial screening before doing a deeper dive with the Yellow/Green candidates.
4) Now it’s time to really dig in to the CVs. Capture immediately questions that come to mind, these will start to shape your interview questions. Note what excites you about their background and what you’d like to dig deeper into when you talk to them.
At the end of this process you should have a small pile of intriguing candidates (maybe some wild cards as well) and everyone that didn’t make it through has been notified.
You are now ready to interview.
5) Interview qualified applicants
I will write a more in-depth article on Interview as it is such a crucial phase of the process. For now, I’ll cover the basics.
I like to have identified the hiring team before I start the interviews. Your hiring team should be a mix of people this person will be directly working with, collaborating with and joining as a colleague. Make sure that each person knows in advance why that are involved and what role they play. For example, you may need this candidate to have excellent analytical skills, however that isn’t your strength and wouldn’t know good from great. You must find someone you know will be able to tell the difference and get them to focus on assessing that during the interview. Assigning people will different parts of the assessment avoids one candidate having the same questions asked in each interview.
Examples of things to assess are; managing others, stakeholder management, collaboration, analytical ability, vision, KPI’s and deliverables, project management, etc.
Once I’ve identified the team, I send them all an email explaining; what we are looking for, why they on the team and what role they should play (so everyone knows what other Interviewers are assessing) as well as the ‘key criteria’ to do the job, alongside the job description.
I then set up a shared doc where I add each candidates CV, brief background, and a place for interviewers to add their feedback.
I try to keep interviewing teams to two people. Doing an interview alone means you miss key subtleties, as your listening to the answer for your last question, your likely thinking of your next question and therefore not listening to the answer. Having more than 2 interviewers can make it hard on the interviewee. You want interviews to resemble a conversation not an inquiry.
The first interview can be as simple as a screening call. This can be done by yourself or a member in your internal HR team (or within your team). This chat is to check for fit, get an more illuminating picture of their CV, and cover the basics like; start date, salary range, working permits, etc. You want to get this out early before they go too far down the process. Who ever does the call make sure you get them to capture feedback immediately afterwards. This gives you a chance to bring more life to the role, the company and the short term, plans. A good question in this stage would be ‘Why does making this move make sense for you at this point in your career?’
The second interview goes more in depth. I like this interview to be more skills based, but it depends on what you are looking for. Remind interviewers to capture their feedback immediately after the interview (some HR leads actually schedule in that time for them before they run into their next meeting). Continue with the 3rd and 4th (I believe it is best practice to stay under 4 interviews). By the end of the process it is likely that you will have a couple of candidates to chose from.
I feel responsible here to mention that you should do some due-diligence on what is legal/illegal questions you can ask and ensure your interview team is also aware.
It’s now time to 6) Deliberate.
Never, I repeat never, rush into a hire. Hiring is costly, but firing is exorbitant. You have to be able to hear and trust your gut. Even if someone is great on paper, interviews well but you have a sinking feeling that you can’t put your finger on, act on that. What I have done in some cases where I wasn’t so sure, I brought them in on an extended probation period that I closely monitored. I have done this long enough and met with enough people who has gone against their gut feel and regretted it later. Trust me on this.
In a clear state of mind, review the feedback you have had from your interviews and stay focused on the job at hand. It is important you get what you need out of the role so let the bet candidate win (not necessarily the one people ‘liked’ most). Remember that some people don’t interview well and their nerves hold them back. Try not to judge on that and a great way to get someone out of their nervous state is to ask them about their passions outside of work, as Sally explained in this podcast episode.
Once you have made your decision, it’s time to 7) make the hire.
Here are some key things that should not be a surprise when you make an offer to the candidate;
- Working hours/location
- Estimated start date
This may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised at how much of the key detail gets left until the end and we find ourselves back a square one. Be clear from the start what the details are, and get information from the candidate as to what their desired salary is and which benefits are most important to them. In terms of location be clear on how much time they are expected to be at the office and if you have any flexible working policies. Highlight what will be provided (I have heard of some companies not supplying laptops) so by the time you make the offer there are no big surprises.
I personally like to make the offer on the phone with a follow up email that allows the candidate to go over everything on their own time. Having it in writing makes it ‘official’ and often candidates are hesitant to resign until they are secured in knowing the next job is definitely going ahead. I often ask a ‘by when’ I need to have their answer to reinforce our commitment. Once the offer has been accepted you can then start working out a start date as they will have been able to get more information on notice, holiday, etc when they resign. This should be an exciting not stressful part of the process.
That summarises some of the best practices I’ve picked up during my career from being both an Executive Recruiter to Leadership Consultant. I must note that the process does not end here. In order for a hire to be successful they must have a fool-proof onbaording process, which is worthy of its own post. Many bad hires become bad because of a lack of onboarding, they aren’t clear on where they should focus and end up misaligned with their manager. This is why probationary periods are excellent but are invalid if managers 1) don’t set expectations and 2) don’t monitor them.
Once you’ve made the hire you can’t just throw them over the shelf. It is your responsibility to set them up for success or else it will be your responsibility to manage them out which is painful, emotional and costly.
Building and managing teams takes enormous responsibility and effort. To do this well you have to take the time to develop yourself and your team. Striking that balance is what you should be striving for.
Reflect and attempt the 7 steps to hiring and identify what you could be doing differently or better. Share what has helped you most when it comes to hiring in the comments 👇
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