Hiring and Interviewing
Hiring the right person that fits the job and organization is very important for organizational success. The ‘cost’ of hiring the wrong person can have negative impacts such as:
- Loss of ‘time’ for the organization – the ‘time’ - invested in hiring, sorting out whether it is working and replacing a poor personnel choice.
- A poor choice in hiring means the organization is investing time, training and resources in the wrong person.
- Damage to or setbacks for the organization – the new hire does not correctly deal with customers, suppliers or product/service quality is damaged.
- Morale can be undercut. Employees usually sense quickly if a team member does not fit or is not doing his/her share.
- It is never easy or quick to rectify a poor hiring choice, especially if the person has to be let go. No one fires an employee lightly, which means a time consuming path forward.
 Preparations to Interview and Hire
There are several important tasks before interviewing and hiring to enhance the success rate:
- Create a job description for the position. The job description should define important qualifications, ability and fit that are relevant to the organization and position.
- If there are multiple people involved in the hiring process and decision-making make sure there is consensus on the job description.
- Know what questions are illegal to ask in the hiring process. There are federal laws (Title 7) that cover hiring in all states and cities. Additionally there are state and local laws that may go beyond the federal laws. The problem with illegal questions primarily comes from a person who is not hired and files a legal action over the "illegal questions” that led them to being turned down for the job.
 Screening Candidates
Screen candidates for key elements evaluated when creating the job description to clarify the priority of these elements. No candidate will be equally strong in all areas.
- Qualifications - those specific qualifications and experience defined in the job description that are relevant to the position.
- Ability – hard skills such as computer program knowledge, equipment operations or writing skills as demonstrated by specific authored documents.
- Fit – emotional characteristics; emotional intelligence abilities; people skills; intuitive abilities such as judgment.
- Use a standard set of questions for all candidates. Treating all candidates consistently is both fair, legal and provides a balanced assessment of all candidates.
- Use “open-ended” questions to elicit better information. The purpose of open-ended questions is to have the interviewee talk more honestly and openly instead of “selling themselves” or telling the interviewer what they want to hear. Examples are:
- “Tell me about your best/worst boss”
- “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an unhappy customer.” (Modify this question to a situation that is relevant to the specific position in the organization.)
- Avoid closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions can be answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and tend to provide little information to discern which person is the best fit for the position. Example of these type of closed-ended questions are:
- Do you work well with your co-workers?
- Are you a team player?
- Have multiple people in the organization conduct interviews. Multiple interviews increase the accuracy of the assessment of each candidate.
 Other Hiring Best Practices
- Know your work environment – this adds more specific criteria to the job description that are specifically relevant to the organization
- Use background and credit checks allowable under law. These services can be contracted through a service agency. This may be important for positions that handle cash, financial or personnel records and sensitive matters.
- Drug testing.
- Aptitude and skill testing. Examples of aptitude and skills tests that organizations utilize are:
- For a senior accountant position – excel testing
- For a sales position – an aptitude & personality test – DISC Assessment (Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C))
- A Fortune 1000 employer services company uses a math test that is 12 minutes, with 50 questions at an 8th grade proficiency level
NOTE: These and many other assessment tools and tests are available on the market.
 What goes wrong in hiring:
- Asking illegal and inappropriate questions resulting in a legal action
- Asking closed-in questions which results in basic facts, but nothing deeper and hiring a person that does not fit the position and or organization.
- Lack of a background check fails to uncover critical information.
- Making a “gut decision” or quick decision results in short circuiting the process and a poor decision. Several situations where this can happen are:
- A candidate comes recommended by a trustworthy person
- Candidate is a “good interviewer” – Some people are very good at selling themselves and likeable which may mask whether they are qualified or the right fit for the position.
- Fear of losing a candidate overtakes the hiring process
 Related Best Practices
- Hire Your First Employee
- Hire a Contractor or an Employee
- Pre-Employment Background Checks
- Employee Retention
- Employee Training
- US Small Business Administration (SBA) "Hire and Retain Employees"
- US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) "BEST PRACTICES FOR EMPLOYERS AND HUMAN RESOURCES/EEO PROFESSIONALS"
- HR.com "HR Best Practices For Interviewing And Hiring"
- Who: The A Method for Hiring , the New York Times Bestseller by Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. Consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.
The primary source author of this article is Jim Hutsinpiller.
Jim Hutsinpiller is an Employer Services Advisor with PayNorthwest, LLC. Prior to joining PayNorthwest, Jim worked for Paychex, a major national payroll and employer services company, in the areas of HR and employee benefits and was Director of HR & Administration for NorQuest Seafoods. Jim has been a C Corp shareholder/exec team member and Managing Member of an LLC. Jim holds a BA in Economics and Master of Business Administration, both from University of Washington, and has held SPHR, CRPS and ARPC designations.