February 28, 2008

Let’s Finally Hire Someone

By Paul Bieber

Finally, we’ve spent a lot of time on the interview, let’s hire someone! This is the most important decision a manager can ever make. I have seen glass shop owners spending untold hours shopping for a glass washer or diamond edger, yet they don’t want to invest more than an hour for an interview and hiring conversation. This is totally backwards. The hiring decision will have much more impact to your organization than the choice of machinery for the shop.

You are going to hire the best available person, aren’t you. Of course NOT.

If the best person you interviewed wasn’t as good as you need, then start over next week. Don’t settle for someone who ‘may’ do well. Don’t hope they will work out. Be sure that this person will add to your team. There is no middle ground in hiring, no compromise in selection. Either the person will succeed, or you should reject them. You might compromise in salary negotiations, but never in the basic yes or no decision.

I would love to tell my readers what the perfect person’s charteristics are…there have been hundreds of books written, thousands of articles, and no one has it right yet. You have to use your judgment as a leader of your company to hire people that fit. That said, here is my list of the one hundred attributes that I look for:

•1-95 Attitude .

•96 Reliability.

•97 Current job skills.

•98 Previous job history.

•99 Education history.

•100 Legal qualifications (Has driver’s license, etc.).

That’s it…references don’t mean a thing to me, they can be too easily manipulated.

Google has about 3,000 people apply for each job hired, and applicants go through roughly 20 interviews. I know of no one in our industry that has this kind of influx of applicants, but I do recommend the Google model for multiple interviews. Have a second opinion, always. Another person will see different things than you do; will give a different point-of-view on the applicant. You want the applicant to come back for a second interview with you and another person, at a different time of day than your first interview. I generally like early evening for a second interview, when hiring a first shift, or day shift person. See them after they have put in a day’s work, see if they are grumpy or upbeat…how do they handle the stress of their current job?

When you make your decision, the applicant still has a decision to make. Are you the company they want to work for. My instincts warn me when, during the first interview, the applicant says that this job is perfect for them. Have they done homework? Do you know them from the trade, or maybe a previous job? The stranger who after thirty minutes of discussion says you are the one, is just a little too desperate. They should think about you, just as you should think about them.

After a strong second interview I let the applicant know they are being seriously considered, and to think about the job so they can have an answer ready if we call them. I want my applicant to want this job more than anything else. When I call back to announce a conditional offer of employment (remember this phrase–we’ll discuss it next week), I want the applicant to jump for joy. Not to say, “Give me a couple of days to consider it.” What have they been doing during the interview process?

I tell an applicant who wants to think about the job, to call me when they are through thinking, and if the job is still available, I’ll start thinking about them! If I have a second choice who is enthusiastic, that’s my new employee. If a person has to now contemplate their future, they weren’t true during their interview when you asked them why they are looking for a job. If they were just window-shopping to get salary amounts to throw back to their current employer, you don’t want this person on your staff. They will do the same thing to you.

If you are replacing a current person who is leaving for a good reason, building a family, or a spousal relocation, then it is OK to hire a new person with the old person in place. If you are hiring for a negative reason, replacing a current dud, then let the dud go before you do the final hire. You will get burned more often than not. Your new person wants to give two weeks notice, (which they should!), and you think you will let the dud go in two weeks, so the next day the new hero can take right over. Remember this, the new person will be telling their friends, who may mention it to their friends, and often times, the dud will hear they are being replaced. Trust me, this does happen. You don’t want this kind of scene in your place of work, they are nasty.

I had another experience that taught me–we were going to replace an inside salesperson, had hired the replacement and were ready to go, but we hadn’t told the current person. Well, three days before the transition point, the current person got very sick, stayed home for a couple of days, and then came to the office first thing on Monday, only to be fired with their replacement already there. Never a good scene. Always, when you make up your mind on a replacement, terminate the current employee. Yes, you will be short-handed for a week of two…do it anyway. Give the person a two-week severance and ask them to leave. Don’t let them work out the severance period. They will be mean, vindictive and will sour the rest of the work force.

Next week we will discuss the “conditional offer of employment” and how to use it successfully in hiring great people.