Today’s post is by Tony Beshara, Ph.D., creator of The Job Search Solution and president of Babich & Associates
Most hiring authorities will not admit that luck plays an important role in the hiring process. In fact, most of the literature about hiring warns against relying too much on luck for a successful outcome. In my experience, however, luck is the secret ingredient.
The average hiring experience involves four hours of face-to-face meetings and, at best, an hour or two of testing, paperwork, contacting references and running background checks. In spite of the best intentions and exhaustive screening, the hiring process in and of itself doesn’t actually reveal what a potential employee will be like – or how they will perform. Our files are full of as many stories about people who far exceeded expectations as those who failed despite stellar qualifications.
For many new hires who fail, they may feel uncomfortable in the company culture or find themselves in over their heads. For those who succeed, they may have found a source of inspiration and feel driven to new heights of achievement.
Experienced senior managers understand the interplay of life and work, as well as the unpredictable factors and shifts in attitude that affect performance. Sometimes the most promising new hire becomes your worst nightmare: time-waster, incompetent, dishonest – or all three. And sometimes the sleeper becomes the super-star.
Less experienced managers will discuss their expectations about their new employee before they have even shown up for their first day. This is tempting fate. In my experience, it is best to devote a focused effort in interviewing and hiring, and reserve judgment about the candidate until they have shown their true colors. Of course, I’m always helpful and quietly optimistic about the hiring match and the benefit for both the company and the new employee. But I also follow my gut instinct, which is frequently proven right after all the cards have been played. And when mistakes happen for whatever reason, I fix them as quickly as possible.
Getting the right people into the right situations cannot be achieved from the process alone – sometimes it all comes down to one thing: luck.
Interviewing and hiring is one of the biggest risks a company faces. Bringing on new employees costs time and money, and can be a huge setback if they turn out to be a problem for the company.
So, what does all of this mean and how can you take into account luck in hiring? Here are some tips:
– Keep open to interviewing more candidates rather than fewer. That doesn’t mean you have to interview 20 candidates for every position. Rather, it means you should err on the side of including individuals who may appear to be borderline candidates, taking into account that one of these dark horses could bring the luck you need.
– Focus on why and how candidates have either been successful or thwarted, despite great promise. What roles did environment, co-workers and the work required of them play? How did they progress in the job and why? What might have kept them from growing in the job – and would it continue to be a factor?
– Take into account the candidate’s “timing” in life. Have they reached a point in their life where they are likely to “catch fire”? Do they have reasons to stay focused and get serious about a career?
– Evaluate the potential mentoring relationship that you might have with the candidate. Often a bond forms between people of similar backgrounds, or you might see yourself in that person when you were their age, or facing the same crossroads. When we become mentors, rather than just bosses, our employees perform better.
– Give yourself the benefit of the doubt when you feel “lucky” with a candidate. But don’t hesitate to keep the new employee on a short string. The more of the risk they are, the quicker your decision should be to terminate, if necessary. Remember: Hire carefully, but cut losses quickly.
The key to hiring success is to learn the best interviewing techniques, hone your questioning skills, understand what makes a good employee – and cross your fingers.
– Co-author of 100,000 Successful Hires: The Art, Science and Luck of Effective Hiring, Tony Beshara is the owner and president of Babich & Associates, a firm that was established in 1952 and is the oldest placement and recruitment service in Texas. It is consistently one of the top contingency placement firm in the DFW area, as recognized by the Dallas Ft. Worth Business Journal. He has been a professional recruiter since 1973 and has personally found more than 8,500 individuals jobs.
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