Hiring new employees can be a risky business, though it doesn't have to be. One of the more common mistakes I see in the hiring process is screening in candidates to the pool of finalists.
What exactly is screening in? It's the hope that you'll end up with a nice selection of final candidates to find that diamond in the rough. Making exceptions, creating shortcuts, or whatever means you use, but the result of the problem is that you intend to compare candidates to one another.
Here's how it works. Along the way, standards for what makes a good candidate are gradually lowered. An exception today results in a shortcut tomorrow, and sooner than you may think, you've lost sight of your original standards. What you may not realize is that you'll end up with what I call the "best of the mediocre."
I hear this quite often, "But there's something about this candidate that I really like. I know they don't meet all the important criteria that we discussed, but I think they're talented enough to change."
Sure they are. How many divorced couples thought the same thing "before" the wedding? Let's face it, people don't change just because you want them to.
How can you better prepare for these tough issues so your company becomes stronger, not weaker, from the hiring process? Many times the criteria for what makes the best candidate aren't fully established before the hiring process begins. So let's cover that first.
Some initial questions from hiring managers are:
So how do you reach those conclusions effectively? By determining the core attributes required for success in the position. Here are some examples which may vary depending on your company and the specific position:
But you also must consider a fit with the team and especially the hiring manager:
For my clients, I strongly encourage a rating system with multiple checkpoints to clearly answer these questions and more. Examples of the checkpoints are: Resume screening, Assessments, and Personal Interviews.
Each checkpoint has its purpose, and each one builds on the previous checkpoint to provide greater clarity and verification. Each candidate, as they progress through the process, is rated against the original criteria. Those who don't meet the criteria are quickly eliminated without exception.
In this case, it's better to pass on a questionable candidate who "may" be able to do the job effectively than to hire someone who could cost you tens or hundreds of thousands. While there are never any assurances in business, you can stack the odds in your favor by following this simple philosophy.
Let's be clear about one final thing, no candidate is ever going to meet every standard you determine. However, you need to know in advance what the most essential attributes are. Then stick to the original standard without wavering.
In conclusion, screening out candidates rated against clear and high core standards, maintaining integrity throughout the process, and intentionally creating a selective hiring system will help you feel better about screening out those candidates who simply don't match the top level of success required for the position.