Slow Down and Hire Right

slow hiring processGetting the right people in the right seats is one of the most vital components of optimal performance.  Effective people selection is one of our ten levers that we pull to optimize business performance and create a high-performance culture.

So, every open position you have waiting to be filled in your organization is an opportunity to strengthen your culture and protect your company.

Protect your company? Isn’t an open position only reflective of tasks that need to be done; like accounting, or project management?


Hiring a full time person is taking on a tremendous risk and obligation. Each person impacts your company’s culture. A disengaged employee can directly impact your bottom line (especially if you are routinely hiring people who don’t culturally fit and they are all spending time at work looking for new jobs, cancelling meetings with co-workers, or poorly treating your customers).

When high performing companies hire, they look for a combination of fit, talent and skill. For a long time, hiring focused on skill first and foremost. Now, many of our clients utilize a “fit first” hiring mentality. As is often said, “hire for integrity, skills can be taught.”

Obviously, that mantra can be taken too far. You can’t hire an HR professional with a high degree of integrity and then teach them how to be an accountant.

However, if you are looking to hire an HR professional, it would be ideal to hire one that has demonstrated integrity, empathy and compassion – as well as baseline skills needed to meet the job description.

But, how do you interview for empathy?

If it’s important to get the right person in the right seat – how do you quantify something as complex as fit and culture? The answer may surprise you: A longer hiring process.

That may seem counter intuitive – you have an open position and it needs to be filled. However, look at the cost and overall time it takes to have an employee who was hired quickly to fill a need, but ended up being a bad fit or unhappy in their position. The person will likely leave (after a period of being disengaged, looking for new career opportunities on the job and spreading negativity among their team) and then the entire process of re-posting and filling the role begins again.

Or … consider the process of having to let that person go and the impact that has on a team.

One approach is to have a selection process that includes measures and questions about personality, character and work style in the interview process. Nearly 20% of employers use personality tests to help with hiring or promotion decisions, according to a 2011 survey of 495 human-resource managers by the Society for Human Resource Management.

An employment personality test is often done as part of the pre-interview screening. It has nothing to do with a skills assessment (whether or not the candidate can do the work). It can be done with a phone call and a trained interviewer, or on a computer.

As a side note: You can’t effectively screen candidates for cultural fit (one of our big 3: Organizational Foundation), if you don’t know what your culture is.

Then, in the interview process itself (in-person after review of the candidate’s personality screen) spend as much time asking personality, culture and integrity questions as you do in the skills assessment. Look for emotional intelligence.  Part of the process will need to be training interviewers on how to ask and interpret responses, and it is important to ensure that there is a feedback loop with other interviewers post candidate interview.

Be consistent with the process you create. Yes, it takes longer on the front end to get a new person in the door, but it will help further your goal of becoming a high performance organization if you get the people who fit best on your team the first time.

How about you? Does your company utilize personality tests in hiring? What is your experience? Read about Hank Orme’s experience with knowing when a person is a good organizational fit.

performance ph Nikki DugganNikki Hudsmith is Vice President of Consulting Operations at Performance pH. She is committed to improving well-being in the workplace and at home, which is in Nashville, Tenn.

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