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Recruiting, Interviewing and Hiring:
The Ultimate Game of “Survivor”

By Bob Schultz

The two most important things any owner or senior management person can be doing on any given day are to increase revenue and decrease cost without sacrificing quality. Recruiting, hiring, training and coaching a world-class team is a giant step in the right direction to increasing profitable revenue.

In order to accomplish this, critical focus and effort must be placed on the recruiting process. It’s amazing that many managers will spend more time researching the purchase of a computer or other piece of equipment than they will in hiring the people who will represent them on a day-to-day basis.

All too often, managers will hire “experienced” people, sometimes taking them from other companies. To understand how costly this can be, it’s necessary to understand the meaning of the word “experience.”  “Experience” can be defined as “events lived through,” or “knowledge or skills gained over time.”  But, are those skills and knowledge the right ones? Take, for example, someone who has played golf for ten or more years without the benefit of serious coaching to become a world-class golf pro. Most likely, that person’s skills leave something to be desired, but he or she can still be “experienced.”

Like the TV show Survivor, the right recruiting process will eliminate people all along the way until only the outstanding winners remain.

Step 1: Identify the need: Before you begin recruiting, you must establish the positions you’re looking to fill and identify the community in which new staff will work. Then, establish a targeted compensation model and ideal target behavioral style for each position.

Step 2: Find the candidates: It is not necessarily important that candidates have experience, but some successful background in a related field is helpful.  Ads should run in the classified section of a local newspaper, and, if budget permits, a display ad should run in another section of the paper. Ads can also be posted on Internet sites catering to those seeking employment.

Step 3: Start screening with the resume: If prospective employees can’t sell themselves, how can they represent your business? Inspect their resume for typos, grammatical or spelling errors, and sloppiness. If the resume can’t pass this critical first step, then “vote them off the island.” 

Step 4: Send a pre-interview package: Send the remaining applicants a pre-interview package. It should contain a personalized cover letter and an application for employment. (To expedite the process, consider posting this pre-interview package on your Web site to be downloaded by applicants with a password.)

If you find the responses to these questions satisfactory, then include the applicant in the next challenge: the interview. Rather than a single interview, the procedure should be a series of steps; each one’s a part of the screening process.

Step 5: Conduct a telephone interview: Set up phone interviews via e-mail. This acts as another important test. If applicants don’t check their email, they probably won’t check it when customers send them an e-mail. Conduct the first telephone interview using a script. Some important questions at this stage include: “What are your earning goals for this year?” and “Are you a non-smoker?”           

The energy in the candidate’s voice during the phone interview is a strong indication of whether or not we want to interview them further. If they can speak eloquently and seem to be intelligent, set an appointment for a face-to-face interview.

Step 6: First face-to-face interview: Look for the candidate who arrives on time and is dressed professionally, if there is consistency with previously given answers, and how the candidate feels about being video/secret-shopper shopped.

Step 7: Check references and behavioral style: Before you proceed further, obtain permission from the remaining candidate or candidates to assess their behavioral styles. Some excellent personality assessments include the Management for Success (MFS) Style Analysis Response Form-Sales Version and Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) Response Form from Target Training International, which candidates can complete online. Review both of these reports to determine if the candidates are close to your targeted profile.

At this stage you should also conduct a complete reference check. If the references check out satisfactorily, and the behavioral reports are in sync with your targeted profile, then call the candidate for a second face-to-face interview.

Step 8: Second face-to-face interview: This time, add an additional representative from your company so you can get another perspective. It’s also important at this point to look for a ‘PHD’ attitude, which stands for ‘poor, hungry and driven. Managers are looking for that extra commitment from a person to assure that they will be happy to stay late, and willing to embrace full-time, active weekend work when necessary. If the applicant passes the second interview satisfactorily, then invite him or her to the all-important group interview.

Step 9: The group interview: Most managers would be satisfied to hire people who have been through the first eight steps of the recruiting process. However, some people are very good at behaving well in one-on-one interviews, and a resume is really just a balance sheet that lists all assets and no liabilities. The group interview provides a chance to probe for the liabilities and see how potential candidates interact with others.

During the group interview, sit back and watch the candidates in action. Compare notes with the other observers from your company and choose your superstars. Role-playing should be an integral part of the recruiting night. The can help determine if the candidates are going to be coachable.

Step 10: Final Interview and Offer the Position: Schedule an appointment to meet for a final face-to-face interview with the candidates selected from the group interview. Use this interview to go over anything that may have concerned you during the group interview. If you are satisfied, present the job offer and start date.

Read other articles and learn more about Bob Schultz.

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