7 Ways to Stop Hiring Turkeys

By: Robin McKay

How many times have you walked into a supermarket or retail store recently and been confronted by a person who just screams, "I don't want to be here today'? Where do they get these people from? Why did management not see during the selection process they were about to hire an absolute turkey? Reason, because during the hiring interview the candidate is presenting him or her self better than you will ever see again! Turkeys get hired because managers continue to employ people using the GE formula, that is, Gut feeling and Emotion decision making.

Hiring is a lot like marriage, easy to get into, bloody hard to get out of. Would you marry someone 48 hours after meeting them just because they looked good and you like them (ok some people do this in Las Vegas, but it never lasts)? No, of course you wouldn't, you'd like to understand more about your partner first, that's why we have engagements - a period to discover compatibility.

Unfortunately when we are hiring new people we don't have the luxury of slipping on an engagement ring. We need to make a decision on whether we want to 'live' with this person based on what we know and have discovered over a couple of days - a tough task, but not impossible if we take a structured approach and not only measure what the person can do, but also who they are.

Here's 7 steps that will help you discover what your job applicant knows and who they really are - how to short circuit the engagement and avoid a 'broken marriage'.

1. Use application forms - CVs will only tell you what the candidate wants you to know. Application forms collect the information you need and in a structured manner so you can measure apples-with-apples. CVs will usually only tell you how good a writer the candidate is, or in most cases, someone else is.

2. Always use a valid and reliable psychometric test - The application form will tell you what a person knows, knowledge, skill and experience. Psychometric testing will explain who the person is, their personality, mental ability, motives and values. You cannot judge this from an interview - most managers do, it's called the GE test (Gut instinct and Emotional decision making). Cost for these tests is usually compatible with the position. If you're hiring an administration assistant and want to avoid hiring a turkey, a computer skills test, personality and mental ability screening, such as JobClues, may be adequate. But if you are hiring a Manager then you'll need something more robust like ASSESS.

3. Use a structured multi rated behavioural interview - One interview question for each of the job competencies (no more than 8). Questions should be behaviourally based because past behaviour reflects future behaviour. Don't allow candidates to give you opinions during the interview, get real life examples. Always have two or more interviewers. Rate the answers to each question. Discuss the rating and formulate an overall score immediately after the interview, not the next day.

4. Always do reference checks - Reference checking is usually done as a last resort. By this time you have made up your mind to hire and tend to explain away any negative comments as manageable or trainable. To eliminate this emotional response, reference check earlier in your selection process. A tip, try and seek reference points outside of what the candidate has given you, nobody will usually put forward a negative referee. Make sure you get permission from the candidate first.

5. Consider doing a background check - Educational and trade qualifications, criminal activity, drivers licence etc are all areas that are easily checked. If any of these are critical to the position don't believe what you read in the CV. There are many competent organisations that can perform this service at a minimal fee.

6. Consider doing drug testing - If the job requires high levels of safety conscience a small fee for this service could save you thousands of dollars (maybe even a life) down the track.

7. Construct a work sample test - Get the applicant to perform a task(s) associated with the job. For example, if you are hiring a drive, take them on a test drive and get them to perform some manoeuvres, a sales person may be asked to do a 10 minute sales presentation in front of your interview panel and some selected sales staff.

Why use gut feel and emotional decision making when science is available. Using a structured approach to selection that includes not just what a person can do, but also who they are, will go a long way to helping you have a happy "married life". And remember, if you don't find your perfect partner first time around, try, try again. Picking the best from a bad bunch has an analogy to dating, as you get more desperate, standards slip.

Human Resources
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