Welcome to Presentation-Pointers!      Keyword Search:    

Check out our new projector section click here. You will find reviews on the latest LCD projectors and DLP projectors for business presentations.

Hiring Winners: Avoiding "Bad Hires"
By Marcia Zidle   Printer Friendly Version

"Picking people for a job is like going to the store to buy apples," according to management consultant Harry Levinson. "Before you go, you ought to know whether the apples are to be eaten fresh, make into applesauce, baked into a pie or made into juice. Then, you can make the appropriate choices."

The goal of selection interviews, buying apples, is to make the most appropriate choices---to hire the right people for the job. The goal is to match applicants with openings---more specifically applicant's qualifications with job requirements. The interview is a subjective tool that attempts to forecast a candidate's performance. No selection tool can predict future performance with absolute certainty. But, if you understand the job requirements, examine the applicant's past performance and use good interviewing techniques, you're more likely to avoid "bad hires". These are people who turn out to be a round pegs in square holes; people who you train and then leave; and people who just aren't motivated to give their best. So how can you avoid such costly hiring mistakes?

According to Roger Staubach, "In business or in football, it takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results." Therefore, the first step to successful hiring is preparation. If you really want to know if that person you're interviewing has the requisite qualifications, you'll have to do more than a 30-second scan of the resume and "shoot from the hip" questions. A thorough, accurate, and focused job description is essential for effective interviewing. You may think it's a bureaucratic nuisance but it can be a valuable tool in deciding who is the best person for the position.

A job description is an outline of the primary responsibilities of the job. It should list the major task in order of importance. You need to have as complete a knowledge of the job as possible, not only the present "must have's" but the future needs of the position as well. Then you need to determine the skills required to perform the job. Job skills include technical skills and performance skills. Both are equally important.

Technical skills are typically learned through education, training, or on-the-job experience. For example, typing, computer programming, machine operation, financial analysis, and graphic design are all technical skills. You might think of technical skills as what a person "can do".

Performance skills are how a person will do the particular job. These are more like work habits and personal characteristics and are transferred from job to job. Flexibility, assertiveness, paying attention to details, ability to cope under pressure are all examples of performance skills. They are as important as technical skills. Research has shown that many "bad hires" are due not for technical reasons but because of motivation, energy, values, or interpersonal skills. If you do not explore these skills, you may get a highly qualified person who is not able to work in a particular atmosphere or group of people.

In a recent conversation with a manager, who had just finished formulating a job description for the head of a growing information systems department, I was told: "Initially, I thought I needed someone who had technical mastery. But when I defined the job in terms of its objective, what I realized was that I needed someone who could develop the department and determine what the rest of the company required of it. I needed a communicator and negotiator---not an inspired computer wizard".

Remember, in any selection interview there are three basic questions you'll need to answer during the interview.

  • Can this person do the job that they are interviewing for? That's the technical fit -- the basic skills to do the job.
  • Does she have the traits and desire to effectively do the job? That's the motivation fit - the basic personal attributes to do the job.
  • Does she fit into the company culture? You know what works and what does not within your company, and this is a very important barometer of success. Start choosing winners!

Printer Friendly Version

Click here for more articles by Marcia Zidle.