First American Pumps Up the Value

First American Pumps Up the Value

November 14, 2002

Proven Ways to Survive the Tight Job MarketReg Guptonhiring, employees, job market
The hiring of employees is not necessarily difficult in a
limited job market, but the cost of your error may be greater. The
greatest challenge you will encounter is a reduced number of
candidates to choose from. In a market flooded with applicants, you
have the ability to interview numerous candidates, compare and
contrast them, then narrow it down to your top pick. If the
candidate is not the right choice, you can re-approach your next
best selection. On the other hand, in a tight market, you may
choose one of three available candidates, discover they are a bad
choice, return to the other two candidates and find they are
gone--whisked away by other companies. In today's tight market, you
must find the best person during the first hiring process and not
let the good candidate leave.
Tight Markets Lead To More Mistakes
Employers tend to increase their mistakes in a limited market
because they feel forced to make a quick decision with limited
information. They have the pressure of moving quickly and the
underlying feeling that, if they do not grab this candidate,
someone else will. The whole process becomes hasty--they rush to
meet and interview the candidate, then finalize the decision.
The pressure of a quick decision means less time for a quality
evaluation and an inclination to make a decision without good
information. Unfortunately, in this situation, the majority of
employers rely solely on intuition, which is not the right way to
hire a team member for your company. Intuition, accompanied by the
resume, application and interview, fails to provide an accurate
representation of candidate's quality.
Candidates Have the Advantage
No one likes to admit it, but the majority of candidates falsify
their resumes either by omission or creative addition. The press
has exposed numerous examples of individuals who list a university
they never attended or a degree they never obtained, as well as
details secretly omitted, such as a past job experience or an
employer that may provide a negative review. It is common to not
disclose facts that are relevant to the job description. This is
similar to my introductions at speaking engagements and choosing
topics that are appropriate for specific audiences.
Michigan State University published a study that indicated
employee interviewing is only 14 percent accurate. These statistics
highlight a major problem and money-drain for companies. Reference
calls are equally misleading. You call to verify a candidate's
previous work history and you are never provided with negative
comments. The individual whom you speak to cannot say otherwise
because they are fearful that if the candidates hear the negative
comments, they may be compelled to sue. When you call to receive a
reference, you are consistently provided with the positive, but
what you really need is the truth.
Employers Who Fail Candidates
The truth that an employer needs is the candidate's predicted
success in their job. It may not matter how they performed in their
last job, especially if it was a bad fit. Your aim as an employer
should be ensuring that you match the right person with the right
job. The majority of people who fail at their jobs do so because of
a bad fit. Certain behaviors are necessary for certain jobs. We all
know people who either can or cannot work with numbers all day.
This is a behavioral issue rather than a skill issue. You can
always train for skill, but behavior is what an
employer needs to look for. Individuals who have difficulty with
detail may do so if demanded, but it will drive them crazy and is
not an efficient use of your company's manpower.
Employers need to look at behavioral characteristics, including
the ways that a candidate attacks problems, relates to people and
deals with change. It is essential to match your candidates with
jobs that require the same behavioral characteristics. This type of
system provides the candidate who becomes an employee with a
greater opportunity for success. You are leading candidates to
failure by hiring someone who merely fogs a mirror and does not
have the behavioral characteristics required for the job. In such a
case, you are both in deep trouble.
The Ideal Hiring Scenario
Before the hiring process begins, a company needs to understand
the true job requirements, such as the type of behavioral
characteristics needed to successfully complete the job. There are
ways to address this and several assessment tools that may help.
For example, take the top 20 percent of your performers in a
specific job and evaluate them to determine the behavioral
characteristics necessary to function successfully in the job. With
these results, you may establish a set of behavioral standards for
the job. Then, evaluate incoming candidates against the standards
and look for a match.
In the sales area, a second assessment compares the candidates
sales skills against an index of the top sales performers in the
nation, which provides you with an idea of their ability to sell.
Employers can also evaluate the candidate's opinion of how the job
should be performed, which will provide a comparison between the
expectations of the candidate and company. Finally, you may use an
assessment to determine the candidate's motivations and drives. You
will understand how their time is spent, their values, what
motivates them and incentives you may provide to maintain the job
as challenging and engaging.
Level the Playing Field
Every employer I know has made mistakes in the hiring process.
When they realize their mistakes, most employers vow to do better.
They conduct more complete reference checks or use multiple
interviews. The majority of employers eventually realize that this
is wasted time and redundant, and finally rely on intuition. You
need to level the playing field and stack the deck in your favor
and know if these candidates behaviorally fit the job.
Reg Gupton, MBA, of Creative Growth Seminars may be reached
at (800) 418-0401, e-mail or visit