Hiring is one of your most important tasks as a new manager. You must find candidates with the right skillset, right attitude, and right fit for your team. It's a tall order.
Especially when you consider that many managers are under time pressure to fill vacant roles, and don't have much space in their schedules for interviews. Not to mention, if you're a new leader, you probably haven't done a lot of hiring, and have only a vague sense of what an effective process looks like.
This is just one of the many ways companies let down their new managers. It's well known that training in this area is seriously lacking. New research from consulting firm, West Monroe, reveals that an astounding 59% of new managers get no training whatsoever upon transitioning into a leadership role.
And in the UK, 7 out of 10 businesses fail to provide any leadership education to management staff. Why is this such a big deal? Because, when it comes to hiring, mistakes lead to serious financial losses.
Research shows a single bad hire can cost a company $25,000 or more. In a recent survey by Career Builder, 25% of businesses said the damage could run upward of $50,000 per bad hire. And that's in addition to the toll bad hiring takes on morale, and your credibility as a manager.
So, if you're new to management, and facing your first round of hirings, what can you do to minimize errors, and find the absolute best fit for each role?
Take a page from the human resources playbook. Follow these 5 steps for a more efficient, fool-proof hiring process.
1. Start with a (very) detailed job description
It's amazing how many companies start the interview process without actually nailing down a complete description of the role they're filling. How can you possibly find the right candidate, without a detailed list of required skills and performance expectations?
A simple job title is not enough. For example, if you're looking for a new administrative assistant, be very clear about what that position means at your company, and in your office. Personalize it for your needs.
Make a complete list of competencies and attributes, routine tasks, special talents you're looking for, and traits that are important for a "good fit" with your existing team.
Some of these items will be must-haves, and others will be nice-to-haves. The point is, you now have a hiring roadmap; a way to strategically evaluate your candidates, and make a better hiring decision.
Tip: Consult with colleagues when creating job descriptions. Ask the people your new hire will actually be working with, and reporting to. Get their input on which skills and qualities matter most for the position.
2. Create a simple pre-screening tool for applicants
Do you have time to analyze 300 applications, and hold 200 interviews? Probably not. And nor should you have to! An efficient pre-screening tool will do much of the work for you, by weeding out inappropriate candidates before you even see their resumes.
“I put two instructions in my advertisements that give me a good idea of who can follow instructions and pay attention to detail. I ask them to apply from my website and take a 10 minute grammar test. My ad states that if this process is not followed they will not be interviewed. This weeds out about 85% of applicants and I don’t have to spend as much time pouring through resumes as I used to.”
Another strategy is to include a short questionnaire with the job application. Ask a few open-ended questions that will help you assess communication skills, aptitude, and suitability for an interview.
Alternatively, you could require a small technical assignment to quickly weed out applicants who don't possess the baseline skillset you need for the role.
Creating small challenges like these, during the early stages of recruitment, can be invaluable for narrowing down the field of candidates, without wasting time on fruitless interviews.
Human resources training for first-time managers guides students through strategies like these, offering a range of "selection methods" you can use to make your hiring process way more efficient.
3. Be consistent with your questions & watch out for compliance
Are you aware of the legal restrictions on what you can (and can't) ask during a job interview? These are some of the most common questions you are not legally allowed to ask interviewees:
- How old are you?
- Do you have children, or plan to have children?
- Are you married?
- What is your religion?
- What is your sexual orientation?
- Have you ever been arrested? (you can ask about prior convictions, but not arrests)
- Do you have any physical impairments or disabilities?
- Do you smoke or drink socially?
You'd be surprised how many hiring managers accidentally wander into these forbidden subject areas while talking with job candidates. This opens your company up to law suits, and at the very least, makes you look incompetent.
The best way to guard against blunders in this area is to create a pre-determined set of questions—and stick to it for every interview you hold. Consistency in questioning will help you evaluate candidates more objectively. And vetting your list beforehand will ensure you avoid legal issues.
Tip: In addition to compiling a good list of interview questions, be sure to develop a response evaluation strategy. What kinds of answers are you looking for? What alternative responses would you still consider promising? Think this through carefully before your first interview.
4. Be clear about benefits, salary, and incentives
Never forget that while you're screening candidates, they're also evaluating you, your company, and perhaps competing offers from other businesses. This is especially true for hard-to-fill roles, where talent is scarce, and it takes hard work to find the right fit.
As a general rule, ensure you spend enough time actually selling your organization. Consider what key benefits your new employee will enjoy, and how to best highlight those during the interview. Be upfront and transparent about things like vacation time, health benefits, salary, and any other incentives you have to offer.
Don't assume the attitude that candidates "should be happy merely to be considered, or granted an offer of employment." If you're looking for a long-term commitment—someone who will become a loyal, hard-working team member—think about what you bring to the table, and present those points clearly and persuasively.
Human resources training helps new managers understand the importance of compensation, understand the nuances of benefits packages, and how to leverage those factors when hiring and retaining top talent.
5. Be very wary of Your "gut instinct"
Basing hiring decisions on gut instinct is highly overrated. You simply cannot size someone up, and assess their skillset, based on a handshake or unstructured chat.
Human beings have deeply rooted biases that impact much of our perception and decision-making. While it's true that intuition and years of experience can add something valuable to the hiring process, they must not be your only resource or guiding light.
In fact, relying on instinct is widely considered a major rookie hiring mistake. When you consider the high cost of bad hiring, it's simply not worth the gamble.
This is why it's so important to have strategies in place to setup an objective, rigorous, highly efficient hiring process. Investing in these steps now will yield big rewards. You'll hire the right people, build a successful team, and establish your credibility as a skilled and thoughtful leader. It's a win-win.
Looking for more insights on hiring, retention, or transitioning to management?
We welcome you to explore the Human Resources for Professionals Certificate, delivered by Kompass Professional Development. Click below to explore this HR training program for new managers, and chat live with a qualified academic advisor.