Did you know that 80% of company turnovers are a result of a bad hire? Did you also know that a bad hire could cost you 2.5 times that person’s salary in the end in replacing them? Think about it – you’re paying someone a salary of $50,000 – they leave – and now it’s going to cost you $150,000 just to recruit, hire, train and replace them. It’s sickening, right? Makes you wish you would’ve spent more time asking questions.
I have learned throughout my recruiting career that interviewing a new candidate isn’t quite as easy as someone may think. There is so much to take into consideration when you’re looking for that rock star candidate that sometimes it’s so easy to forget to ask even the simplest of questions when you’re interviewing a them.
According to those stats above, bad hiring is NOT something you want to take lightly. Consistent bad hiring = bankruptcy and inevitably the death of your company. Everyone thinks the candidate is the one in the hot seat during an interview, but in reality, it’s you as the hiring leader who is because that person in front of you needs a job – you don’t. They’re obviously interviewing because they’re interested in working there, so it’s up to YOU to figure out if they’re the best fit or not.
So how do you keep from making a bad hire?
Know and Understand the Position You’re Recruiting For
A job description can only get you so far. Yes, I know that a Sales Manager is in charge of managing a sales team and meeting quotas – but what is the office culture like at my company? What will they be selling? Is it outside sales or inside sales? What are the metrics they’re required to hit each month? Who are the clients they’ll be meeting with – CEO’s, HR Managers, other Sales Managers? (See where my mind immediately goes?) When I’m handed a job description by a client, I politely accept it but never look at it again. I’m not at all saying that job descriptions aren’t useful. I’m just challenging you as the Hiring Manager to elevate your thinking and go beyond the boring job description and start thinking more deeply about the person you’re looking to hire. Once you do this, you’ll start seeing better hires immediately.
Have Your Questions Prepared
If you’re thinking the candidate is the one who has to be the most prepared in the interview, you couldn’t be more wrong. Candidates need to be prepared, but they can only prepare so much given they don’t know the company culture yet, the manager’s pet peeves, the expectations of them in their first 90 days, etc. The 80/20 Rule applies in my interviews – the candidate should be talking 80% of the interview, and I should be talking 20%. Even though 20% doesn’t seem like a lot, when you’re asking the RIGHT questions, it’s plenty.
For example – “What’s your greatest weakness?” For the record, I love/hate this question. On the one hand I love it because asked in the right way or context, it can be a powerful question. But if you’re going down a checklist and just checking off questions to ask just because you found it online somewhere, then I hate that question.
Take into consideration the timing of that question. I like to ask it when someone tells me why they left a company and/or why they didn’t hit their quotas at their last job. Here’s how I ask what’s your greatest weakness: “You left the company because you couldn’t hit your quotas as a result of not making enough sales calls, correct? Would you say not meeting your sales quotas happened often?”
I learned to quit taking everything at face value. Sometimes I have learned the candidate had 5 Managers get hired and fired during their time at their last company and things were constantly changing, therefore making it hard to hit quotas when each week was different. Sometimes, I’ve learned that the candidate was just flat out lazy. I have found that people are unusually honest in their interviews so be prepared with your questions but ask them the RIGHT way and you’ll get better answers.
Know When to Hang Up
I’ve been recruiting long enough to know when I need to end the interview and hang up the phone. Some recruiters will sit there and allow the candidate to blab on and on about how awesome they are when you know for a fact they’re lying or delusional. I have had to stop interviews really early on because I knew that the person wasn’t right for the position. Not only is their time valuable but mine is just as valuable as well, and I’m not looking to waste it for anyone.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to stop the interview. I politely thank the candidate for their time, and then I gently explain why I’m stopping the interview. My conversation could sound something like this: “I sincerely appreciate the time you took to prepare for this interview and meet with me, but I’m going to have to stop this interview as it wouldn’t be the right fit for either of us to move forward.” They’re going to have questions and if you have advice that could help them in their next interview, then tell them – politely. Just be honest as it’s the best policy I have found and candidates are genuinely receptive to it.
For example, I stopped an interview once and asked the girl who wouldn’t shut up about why all of her previous 4 bosses were horrible to work for if I could kindly give her some tips on interviewing because I had figured out very quickly why no one was hiring her. She said yes, so I explained to her that everything she was telling me sounded like excuses and whining and that having 4 horrible bosses in a row sounded fishy to me as that usually doesn’t happen. I gave her some tips on how she could interview better and how she could explain why each job wasn’t a good culture fit for her. I also told her to quit blaming others the entire conversation and tell the next interviewer what she DID like about the job and talk about her successes. She ended up thanking me a lot and then we went our separate ways.
Just because you’re not the one interviewing for the job doesn’t mean you’re not being “interviewed” in some way. When you hire someone, they’re immediately a reflection on you so make sure YOU’RE the most prepared person in the room. Once you are, the awesome hires will just start rolling in.
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