Is your hiring process valid?

A productive selection process is a valid process. Let me define the term “valid” clearly. In the case of a selection, evidence of validity means the selection process demonstrates that it:

  • Makes sense to all parties including the candidate;
  • Is reflective of the job and the tasks associated with the job;
  • Measures content that is reflective of the job;
  • Is predictive of success; and
  • Measures what it intends to measure.

A strong selection process contributes to decisions, positive or negative, that reflect a candidate’s ability to do a job and be productive in the organizational culture.

How have you ensured your selection process meets the above criteria?

Losing Face: Interviews That Don’t Measure Up

Losing FaceSeveral years ago a friend of mine was interviewing for a job.  She was actually interviewing at a hospital to work as a doctor in the emergency room.  She was seated in a large room on one side of a table with a group of people that faced her on the other side.  The room was hot and the interview seemed more like an interrogation rather than an interview.  She was uncomfortable and became frustrated because while she understood there were pressures in the ER, the pressures that they were trying to make her face in the interview were nothing like what she would experience on the job.

As the room became more and more stifling and uncomfortable it seemed that the interviewers were uncomfortable as well.  At one point during the interview they asked her if she would open the window.  She walked over to the window and tried to open it.  She was unable to. She continued to try making every effort possible, struggling to open the window and to cool the room.  At this point she was getting angry and beginning to lose her patience.  She happened to glance down at the windowsill and what she saw was the last straw.  She noticed some of the paint on the windowsill had chipped off and as she looked more closely she saw the head of a nail.  It was clear that opening the window was actually part of the interview process.  It was a test.  They had purposely nailed the window shut, raised the temperature in the room and asked her to open the window in order to see how she would deal with stress under difficult circumstances.  Now she was irritated, livid, and disillusioned in the actions that this employer was taking in the interview process.  So she walked over to a chair, picked it up, lifted it over her head, aimed it towards the window and asked, “How badly do you want this window opened?”  Needless to say, she did not take that job and she didn’t care whether she got the job or not.  In her mind the interview process was stupid, silly and made no sense.

In selection circles, professionals call that face validity.  Essentially face validity means, does the process make sense to the candidate.  Too many times we build selection procedures that make no sense to our candidates. We ask them questions that are ridiculous, inane, and have no right answer.  We make them jump through hoops that have nothing to do with the skills of the job.  We play junior psychologist even though we are not educated in psychology.  When we make candidates respond to questions and tests that have no face validity in their minds and make no sense to them, we only hurt ourselves, as employers.  Typically, asking questions and behaving in this manner creates four obstacles in the selection process:

1.         We lower our offer acceptance rates.  Candidates typically tell us no, I don’t want this job.  I don’t want to work for you.

2.         We don’t hire the best people.  We make offers to those people that make us happy. They figure out what makes us tick or are lucky enough to give us the answer that we like.  But, we really don’t know if they will be good at the job. We are flipping a coin when it comes to hiring the individuals in this manner.

3.         We create discomfort and confusion in candidates.  The candidates don’t understand the reasoning behind the questions, and wonder why we behave the way we do in the interview and selection process.  That doesn’t breed confidence or goodwill.  It actually does the opposite.

4.         We put ourselves and our business at risk when the selection process and questions we ask do not make sense to candidates.  It creates doubt in those candidate’s minds about whether they were treated fairly.  It raises our chances of being sued because people don’t feel like they were treated fairly and equitably.

So, if you want people to work for you, you want to get the very best candidates out there, you want your selection process to breed goodwill with those that you hire and with those that you don’t, and most importantly you want to stay legal…the next time you think about interviewing or hiring someone, ask yourself, “Will this make sense to the candidate?”

MORE HIRING MISTAKES

Mistake No. 6:                       Not Involving Employees

Many times organizations believe that hiring is a function of HR or a function of the hiring manager.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t take into account that the rest of the team has to work with and live with the individual you hire.  They also know the job best.  They should be involved in the hiring process.  Their input is invaluable – find a way to involve as many of the employees in the hiring process as possible.

Mistake No. 7:                       Taking the Bodies

Too many times we want to fill a slot.  We will rush through an interview.  We won’t even interview strongly and in many cases we will believe that most anybody could do this job.  We feel there are not enough people in the market place who can handle this job, so we sacrifice or give in, and don’t hold ourselves to the needed criteria.  When we don’t use criteria for the job there’s no reason for a hiring process.  We are looking to fill in with a body.  The problem is that those types of people and that kind of hiring process leads to a lot of turnover and to a never ending cycle of continuously filling roles and positions.  It decreases morale, uses up resources and over time kills an organization.

Mistake No. 8:                       Looking for Superman or Wonder Woman

Certain organizations and managers look for people that are impossible to find in the market place.  We are never going to find the perfect human being who has every competency that we could ever think of, use or need.  It’s important that we really know what is essential to success on the job.  When we know what is essential to success on the job we have a strong measuring stick for what we are looking for.  When we know what we are looking for and we’re clear on it we are able to find those people.  We tend to look for superman or wonder woman because we’re looking for a fix rather than what we need.  We need to know what we don’t need in order to know what we do need and that’s what defining the job means.

Mistake No. 9:                       Treating Candidates like Candidates

First rule in hiring – it’s a 2-way street.  They are making a decision and we’re making a decision.  We need to treat them with respect, not only as a candidate, but as if they are the marketing department.  We want them to walk away with a received the position or did not receive the position and have a relationship with this person that helps them and helps us.  We want them to give referrals to other candidates because they had such a great experience in the process.  So, we need to make sure that this is not a test.  We need to make sure that this is not a one way street.  We want to make sure they are treated like a human being and that our approach demonstrates respect for every candidate that walks in our door.

Mistake No. 10:                     Viewing On Boarding as Separate from Hiring and Selection

Think about it.  Most of us when interviewing candidates use tests and a variety of other measures during the interview and selection process.  If we have great, strong interviews and use good assessments, then we will have enough information from what we have collected during our hiring process that we could actually work with them from almost day one, at least within the first week, on what a strong development plan would be for that individual.  Imagine being able to sit down with the person and say, here’s what we saw in your interview process, here’s why we hired you and why we think you will be successful, and here are some things that we think you may need to work on.  What are your thoughts? Then, together, collaboratively, put together a development plan for the next six months to a year.  That’s powerful.  That creates an interest in wanting to stay, confidence in that employee and that employee having confidence in the organization and it will create discretionary effort and a shorter learning curve.  Use the information you collected in the hiring process to help the employee get off to a good, strong start.

TOP 5 HIRING MISTAKES

Mistake No. 1                      Hiring for skills, attitude or culture

You have to hire for all three.  In today’s fast-paced, collaborative culture we need people with shorter learning curves who can play in the sandbox with others, work with the grain of the Company and help energize others.  In essence, we have to look at the whole person when hiring.  To do this we need a strong selection process with multiple components.

Mistake No. 2.                       Selling the job or business

If you want someone to quit within a few months sell them in the interview process.  It is like a movie that cannot live up to the trailer.  If you want to identify people that will want the job and will stick around, share with them the challenges of the job and working at that organization.  Most importantly, use that process to help make the candidate make a decision about whether or not they want to work there.  A structured, consistent and productive way to do this is to use a tool for this process called a realistic job preview.

Mistake No. 3.                       Trusting your intuition

Most research has demonstrated that when we hire using our gut feeling we have about a 50/50 chance of hiring the best person for the job.  Those are lousy odds.  We want to do better than flip a coin.  We want to make sure that we are hiring the very best person, that we have confidence in them and they have confidence in us and our organization.  The only way to breed that confidence is to use a structured process to help us make the very best decision possible.

Mistake No. 4.                       Ignoring your intuition

Now that seems counter intuitive because I just talked about it being a mistake to trust your intuition, and now I am saying ignoring your intuition is a mistake.  I never want you to ignore your intuition.  I want you to use your intuition as a vehicle to understand that you see, hear or identify a red flag.  Now your key issue must be to verify your gut feeling and understand why it is there.  It may be a bias or it may be something real.  If it is a bias we obviously want to avoid using our bias in selection decisions.  But if it is something real we want to follow that gut feeling, get good information about it and verify it.  So, don’t completely ignore your intuition.

Mistake No. 5.                       Not training people on how to hire

Too many companies rely on picking a set of questions.  They even use some form of behavior-based interviewing.  However, they really are not using the true process of behavior-based interviewing.  To do that people need to be trained and there’s an entire process on how to define what a role looks like and what questions would specifically be used for that role.  There’s a certain way to probe for more information and a very specific way to rate the information that you collect from your candidates.  If you don’t go through training and learn the entire process and learn it well you’re bound to make mistakes which will cause you two challenges:  (1) hiring people who are not necessarily appropriate for that position, and (2) putting yourself at a legal risk.

5 Tips for Interviewing

 

 
Know the Company – If you truly want a job working at a specific company, it is imperative to research that company so that you can:

  • Tailor your answers to the company and that job
  • Clarify why you want to work there and would fit the culture
  • Explain why you are the best fit for the job

Dress Appropriately – They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Show up for the interview dressed accordingly.  In many cases, showing up for a job interview in anything less than a suit and a tie still demonstrates that you are not a serious candidate.  However, some company cultures have a distrust for suits and showing up dressed in a suit could kill the deal.  If you don’t know what is appropriate at that organization…ask.

To tell the truth – Think carefully how you answer questions.  To many candidates stretch the truth and many get caught.  More of this information is easier to check these days and many companies will do a background check.   Don’t get caught miss-stating your background.  There is no recovery for lying in the interview process.

Never Negative– Some candidates talk badly about their old company or even their boss.  Remember the saying “Don’t burn bridges.”   Companies want to hire individuals that demonstrate respect and are positive.  So be tactful and diplomatic.   

It Is Your Decision Too – Most importantly…this is your decision too.  Remember to have questions.  Learn as much as you can.  Observe how they interview you.  Did they challenge you in the interview process?  If so, they probably will on the job.  Did they take a sincere in you?  Did you have to wait a long time in their lobby?  Was the whole process disorganized?  All of these things provide insight into what this company is really like.  After you have had your questions answered and you have observed them find a quiet space and think about whether or not this job is for you.

 

Good luck!

 
 
 

To hire green or not to hire green? Now that is the question!

In the best of all worlds we want to hire people that can run on the first day.  Or do we?

It seems to be the question that many organizations take for granted sometimes at their own peril.  Who we hire says a great deal about our company and what we value.  The results of our hiring say a great deal about how successful we are. 

As I explore this question with you, let’s first take a look at the pro’s and con’s of hiring both types of people.   First, I will explore the pro’s:

Inexperienced Experienced
Lower costs Stronger initial results
Moldable Less hold handing
Lack of bad habits Strong individual contributor and problem solver
Potential stars Verifiable past success
Flexible Clear expectations/opinions

 Now let’s explore the con’s:

Inexperienced Experienced
Longer ramp up time More expensive resource
Higher odds of failure Won’t like being in a learning stage again; like being the expert
Management time investment high May not transition from old job/company well
Produces less May have an ego

There are companies that hire green talent and do very well and there are others that are more successful with experienced hires.  How can you determine what is best for you?

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • How strong is our on-boarding process? The weaker the process the less likely you will succeed with inexperienced hires.
  • How well have we defined what success looks like and the path way to get there? The weaker the definition the less likely you will succeed with inexperienced hires.
  • Where is the turnover happening in your organization? And who is turning over?  Are inexperienced hires turning over?  Are experienced hires turning over?  How about internal versus external hires?
  • Who seems to be successful?  Develop a profile of the type of hire that typically succeeds in your organization.  Base this profile on reality meaning what has actually occurred.  If you have not track this you should start.
  • What kind of compensation can you offer?  Do you have the ability to track experienced hires?
  • What does the candidate pool in your area look like?  How creative have you been when looking for people?
  • What is your development and training process like? Can you grow someone from scratch or are you better at coaching someone with an existing skill set?
  • How much pressure is there to produce?  Will someone without experience be able to handle the pressure while learning and trying to perform?
  • What is your culture like?  Can you bring in people from other organizations and allow them time to adapt and break old habits?

Chicago, Firefighters, and Tests…Oh My!

Supposed Bad News for Employers

This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of a group of African-American firefighter applicants over the city of Chicago.   They claimed the applicant selection process had a disparate impact on African-Americans and was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Why did this happen?

Some Basic Facts in Plain English

Basically, July of 1995, the city of Chicago administered an assessment to over 26,000 applicants. The applicant scores fell into 3 groups:

The city randomly drew from the applicants who scored 89 or above to proceed to in the selection process.   These were the candidates labeled as well qualified. 

The candidates who scored below 65 were notified they were no longer in the running for a position.  They had failed the test.

The applicants who scored between 65 and 88 were considered qualified applicants.  They were told they had passed the test, but would not likely continue in the selection process. 

Then over a period of six years, the city of Chicago ran through the list of well qualified candidates and started bringing the qualified applicant list into the selection process.

Now the applicants case rested on the fact that the procedures utilized by the city statistically had an adverse impact on African Americans.

The city argued that the claims by the plaintiffs did not occur in a timely manner expected under the law.

What Can We Learn from This?

The lawyers will share a great deal about the technical factors under the law and they will be correct.  But for a moment forget the law and let’s just talk about what is right and known.

  • First…Tests are not infallible.  They should rarely be used alone for decision making. 
  • Second…Tests are not the best way to screen through 26,000 people.  There are much better ways such as realistic job previews that do not put an organization at legal risk.
  • Third…The City of Chicago screened out qualified people.  That makes little sense.  Some of those individuals may have been a better fit culturally than a so called “well qualified” candidate.  We must remember that tests do not measure everything and they do not measure everything well.
  • Fourth…Just because you randomly select from a group does not mean that the overall process is still not biased.  Adverse impact is something any employer should be aware and tracking.  It also helps if you are utilizing an assessment that has already demonstrated that it does not have an adverse impact effect. 
  • Fifth…What an impersonal process!   Treating candidates with dignity and respect helps keep you out of legal trouble and ensures a stronger acceptance ratio.  This type of selection process comes out of the dark ages.  We should engage everyone better. 
  • Last…They should question the value of the test and those that provided the expertise to the process.    They went through all of the well qualified individuals and still needed people.  Did the test actually measure or predict success well.  What was the evidence of validity?  More importantly, how could they continue using old test scores for so long-six years?  The scores could no longer be considered valid.  Who advises utilizing selection assessment this way?

If you forget about the legal and technical arguments you still come to the same conclusion.  The City of Chicago was using a poor process, which treated people like cattle, and invited legal scrutiny.  It is time organizations use tests in a thoughtful manner and treat candidates better.  It is only then that we will make better decisions and stay out of the courts!