The Hiring Process
LIKE MANY OTHER activities undertaken by organizations, hiring is a business process—a set of activities that turn inputs into outputs. This process compiles information about job requirements, the applications of various candidates, and the deliberations of decision makers, and produces an outcome: new people on the payroll. This chapter describes a five-step hiring process.
Execute these steps
well, and not only will the quality of your hires improve, but you will also be more confident that you are hiring the right people.
Defining Job Requirements Before you can make a good hire, you need to know what you are hiring for. You also need to determine which skills and personal attributes will be a good “fit” with the requirements of the job and the organization. To define the job and its requirements, you need to understand:
- the primary responsibilities and tasks involved in the job;
- the background characteristics needed to perform the job (education and
- the personal characteristics required (for example, does the individual need
to have strong interpersonal skills? Be highly intelligent?);
- the key features of your organization’s culture (for example, team-orientation,
the degree of conformity, reward systems); and
- your managerial style (for example, authoritative, coercive, democratic) and
its implications for an effective working relationship.
Primary Responsibilities and Tasks
If you’re looking to rehire for an existing job, take a look what the current incumbent is now doing and evaluate their job description, if one exists. But don’t simply accept either of these perspectives as definitive. Use the hiring opportunity to reevaluate the primary responsibilities and tasks of the job. Make sure you can answer the question, “What does the employee have to do in this job?”
Education and Experience Education and experience are the two most critical background characteristics to consider when evaluating candidates. In the case of education, you may wish to specify a certain type of degree or a certain level. Be sure to ask yourself whether a specific educational background is truly necessary. Can you be flexible in this area, or can relevant experience be substituted for a certain educational background? Experience requirements should be based on a thorough analysis of the
specific tasks and responsibilities of the position. Which would be most desirable:
- Industry experience?
- Functional experience?
- Large- versus small-company experience?
Industry and functional experience are particularly important for externally oriented positions requiring knowledge of products and competitors. However, if a good candidate has not been exposed to everything required, consider whether he or she can learn what is needed and how long that learning will take. Various tests, for example, are available to measure an individual’s dexterity with numerical data, spatial acumen, mechanical ability, and so forth. Also, determine whether the organization can afford the time needed for on-the-job learning.
Personal Characteristics Personal characteristics can indicate how the candidate will approach the job
and how he or she might relate to coworkers (see “Create Consensus on Personal Characteristics”). Evaluate the following personal characteristics relative to the tasks and responsibilities you’ve listed for the job opening:
- Analytical and creative abilities. A candidate’s abilities in these two areas
determine how he or she assesses problems and comes up with new approaches to solving them.
- Decision-making style. Decision-making style is very individual. Some
people are extremely structured, analytical, and fact-based; others rely more on intuition. Some make decisions quickly, while others ponder them for a long time. Some depend on consensus, while others seek their own counsel. It is critical to determine whether a particular style is required for success in the job and, if so, what it is.
- Interpersonal skills. Since interpersonal skills and behavior are intimately
connected, understanding a candidate’s interpersonal skills is an important part of the hiring decision process. To determine which interpersonal skills are most appropriate for a given position, think about
the set of tasks that will be performed in the position. Which traits will translate into good performance, especially in view of the superiors, peers, and direct reports with whom the person will interact? For example, a controller should ideally be patient and formal, demonstrating careful, cautious, detail-oriented behavior. For a sales manager, high extroversion and low formality may be desirable.
- Motivation. The candidate’s personal goals, interests, energy level, and job
progression often demonstrate their level of motivation. So ask yourself, “Does this job match the candidate’s personal aspirations? Would he or she do the job with enthusiasm and energy?
Develop a Job Description Once you understand the position’s requirements, you are ready to create a job description. A job description is a profile of the job, its essential functions, reporting relationships, hours, and required credentials. This description will make it possible for you to explain the job both to potential candidates and to
any recruiters you may be using to help identify candidates. In some cases, your organization may have a required format or a standard job description to use as a model. A clearly written, results-oriented job description can shape the beginning of the employee relationship, and can help everyone understand the mission, culture, needs, and goals of the company. It can also form the basis of a legal termination of employment should that become necessary. Your job description should include the following:
- job title, business unit, and the name of the organization
- job responsibilities and tasks
- hiring manager and reporting manager
- summary of the job tasks, responsibilities, and objectives
- compensation, hours, and location
- background characteristics required
- personal characteristics required
Many of these items will have to be cleared with the human resource department. Developing the job description can be an opportunity to redesign a job, instead of just filling the one you already have. For example, the last person who held the position may have had a strong strategic focus, but if you decide that a more hands-on manager is now needed, then recreate the job description accordingly. As you go through the exercise of describing the job, observe the following:
- Distinguish between knowledge, skills, and abilities. Some jobs require
advanced degrees. Some require special skills, such as knowing how to program in Java. Others require physical abilities, such as hand-eye coordination, or mental abilities, such as the ability to work with numbers. Figure out what you need in each area.
- Take the time needed to do it right. Yes, you need that new employee to
start next week, but the cost of getting rid of the wrong employee more than outweighs the cost of time spent finding the right one.
- Be sure to comply with all legal restrictions. Your stated job requirements
must be clearly related to getting the job done and must not unfairly prevent racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, or other “protected classes” from getting hired.¹ (U.S. readers should see Appendix C,“Legal Landmines in Hiring.”)