By Brendan Courtney, vice president, Spherion Professional Services Group
Particularly in a tight labor market, it is often said that one of the most difficult tasks a manager has is letting someone go. While firing an employee is an emotional and awkward undertaking, hiring a new team member can be an even greater test of a managers professional acumen.
Bringing in new team members is a weighty responsibility. The cost of failure can be high, from the pricey possibility of rapid turnover to overworked, frustrated teams forced to compensate for poor hiring choices. An ever-present specter of failure hangs in the air when the final selection must be made.
Will she be up to the task? Can he work with the rest of the team? Do enthusiasm and intelligence make up for a gap in experience? Couldnt there be a better candidate out there, somewhere?
Start with the Interviewer
For too many businesses, the success of the hiring process is pinned on two unknown factors: the interviewing skills and preparation of the interviewer. Because interviewing is more art than science and more instinct than evidence, managers must be well prepared and well equipped in order to conduct successful interviews.
One of the most effective tools for sparking rich, informative discussions with job candidates is behavioral interviewing.
What is Behavioral Interviewing?
The interviewers job is less about matching skills to needs, which has already happened in the prescreening process, and more focused on exploring the professionalism and workplace competency of the individual. The interview must concentrate on past performance and experience, which is the purpose of behavioral interviewing.
Behavioral interviewing is a questioning technique that forces interviewees to give real-world examples of how they have handled specific events and challenges in the workplace. For example, in a typical interview a candidate is asked to describe the duties of his or her previous jobs. In a behavioral question, a candidate will instead be asked to describe a recent work situation in which he or she overcame a difficult challenge. The focus is on the action taken, professional techniques employed and lessons learned. These behavioral inquiries probe into workplace skills and behaviors the candidate has already demonstrated.
Quality, Not Quantity
In all interviewing, the quality of the question is much more important than the amount of questions asked. Managers should take time to consider what they really want to know about an individuals work style, experience, collaboration capabilities and past performance.
On the other hand, too many non-behavioral interview questions (What do you see as your strengths? or What are your long-term goals?) can lead to stock answers that dont probe deep enough into the candidates capabilities and compatibility. An interviewer should prepare a concise but balanced list of questions that explores performance, behavior, experience and accomplishments.
Talk to the Team
Team members and prospective colleagues offer rich job insights from the frontlines of the workplace. Managers not only get a better picture of the professional needed to fill a role, but also gain an understanding of the resource needs, goals and expectations of existing employees.
From Great Interviews to Great Hires
In the end, it will always be peopleHR staff, recruiters, hiring managerswho lead to the right hire. By improving the pivotal interviewing process, a business energizes managers to take greater care in talent selection and to see greater value in every hire.