Hire for Attitude, Not Just Skill

April 20th, 2012

As managers approach the hiring process, they usually strive to be fair, open minded, and goal oriented. This means they view an open position as a problem that needs to be solved, and as they staff the position, they strive to stay as impersonal and task-oriented as possible. Can the candidate do the job or not? Does she have the skills required to move the company forward? Does she have the experience necessary to handle the challenges of this position? If she’s hired and trained, will she stay? Sometimes as a kind of afterthought, managers ask: Will she be easy and pleasant to work with?

But this approach to the hiring process is beginning to change. As recent studies have shown, and many managers can confirm, technical skills are no longer the defining predictor of job success. Just because a candidate knows how to use a certain software program, handle a budget, or execute a task does not mean she’ll be content in her new position, and it doesn’t mean she’ll bring high returns to the company.

Attitude seems to play the strongest role in employee success, not aptitude. And “attitude” isn’t just a stand-in term for cheerful obedience. It refers to the specific values and personality traits the employee shares with her coworkers, superiors, clients, and subordinates. After the first round of candidate selection, employers are no longer asking if an applicant can do the job. They’re now asking: How well will she fit in here? Does she share our work ethic? Is she competitive/collaborative like we are? Is she relaxed/driven like us? Is she serious/fun? Is she open to new ideas, or does she work by-the-book?

Once the pool has been narrowed to include only those who possess the necessary skill sets, attitude-oriented questions can help bring better results during screening and selection. As you review each candidate, remove some of the skill-focused questions from the process, and replace them with questions like these:

  1. This job may involve (insert the most challenging or unpleasant aspect of the position) on a regular basis. How do you feel about that?
  2. Describe the worst interpersonal conflict you’ve ever experienced in the workplace. How did you respond?
  3. What is your favorite aspect of this line of work? How about your least favorite?
  4. Have you ever worked with a team that failed to meet its goals or deadlines? What did you learn from this experience and how have you applied those lessons?
  5. When you have the option, which do you typically enjoy more: Working with a team in a cooperative manner or engaging in personal competition?
  6. Are you sometimes frustrated by questions with no single correct answer and problems with no single resolution? Or do you find these situations enjoyable?

For more examples of behavioral interview questions that can help you select candidates based on attitude, contact the experts at The Palmer Group. We’ll give you the tools you need to match the right candidate with the right job.

Recruiters: Win Clients and Influence the Hiring Process

March 30th, 2012

Managers measure the success of a new hire using industry and company-specific metrics, like long term assessments of the new employee’s productivity and adaptability to the culture. Candidates, of course, measure the success of the hiring process as a kind of pass-fail: they were either offered the job or they weren’t. But what about recruiters? If it’s your job to match candidates and employers profitably, then what metrics should you use to measure success?

New Versus Outdated Hiring Metrics 

In the not-so-distant past, recruiters often used short term analytics to measure success, like the days it took to fill a position and the cost of the hiring process per candidate. But for a variety of reasons, this is beginning to change.

First, managers are shifting their hiring strategies away from just-in-time staffing, in which candidates are sought, evaluated, and hired as positions become available. Many industries are now moving toward an approach that favors pipeline building, or cultivating existing employees and hiring from within. That means that external candidates (and the recruiters who promote them) are often at a competitive disadvantage, even when they possess excellent qualifications.

Recruiter success metrics are also shifting. Instead of short term measurements, like days-to-fill and cost per hire, recruiters are being held accountable for long term metrics, like overall quality-of-hire as determined after 3 to 6 months on the job.

Do your candidates measure up when put to the test? Do they prove themselves reliable and adapt quickly to the workplace cultures in which they’re placed? Because these subjective qualifications are steadily falling into the milieu of the recruiter, not the hiring manager. And if your career depends on your recruiting skills, then it depends on your ability to match the company with the candidate and predict the quality of long term relationships between employee and boss.

The Hiring Process: Matching Candidates and Employers

To flex your matchmaking skills, use every tool at your disposal, including social media and video technology. Here are a few tips:

Create an individual blog for each open position. Free blog platforms are available through Blogger and WordPress, and setting up a blog takes only a few minutes. Keep blog content fresh and make use of keywords and links to your website, the company site, and the posting on Monster/ Careerbuilder. This will keep the blog’s search engine rankings high and will draw maximum attention to the position. But more important, this step will provide potential applicants with a wealth of detail about culture and expectations.

Use social media to present the candidate to the hiring manger. Ask the candidate for links to any profiles that seem relevant, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, and any industry-specific sites he or she may use. This often enriches the resume process and provides hiring managers with a clearer, more in-depth picture of a candidate’s personality and qualifications.

Film the hiring manager. With permission, use a hand held camera to record the hiring manger as she answers questions about the job, the company, and the culture. As she sits in her office or a conference room, ask her questions like the following: What does it take to be successful in this role? What does she look for in a candidate? How would she describe her management philosophy? Etc.

These are just a few strategies that can help recruiters improve their long term odds of success. For more hiring tips and matchmaking tools, contact The Palmer Group and discuss your needs with our team of staffing experts.