Six Steps to Hire Better – Recruiting Q&A

Sean Little —  June 15, 2015 — Leave a comment

Recruiting Q&A


During a conversation in May with some of the top executives at small and mid-sized businesses nationwide, NewHire asked them to write down what questions they had about recruiting. Many of the questions we received in response fell into categories that we define in our 6 Step Recruiting Process.

Below is part one of a two part blog series outlining answers to those pressing questions.

Step 1: Preparing to recruit

Q: When making a new hire do you think hiring for experience is of greater value or lesser value than their potential?

A: This is a question that recruiters have argued over for years. When hiring, I think about four things that really define the candidate I want to hire:

1. Work Behaviors
2. Motivations
3. Skills
4. Experience

You will notice that experience was last on that list. Most of the time, we hire people for what they can do and fire them for who they are. A good way to look at the experience vs potential dichotomy is to use the 80/20 rule. I want to make my target candidate the person who has the behaviors and motivations that the job needs and around 80% of the skills and experience necessary.

Here’s why: in order to get someone to leave what they’re doing and come work for us, we have to compel them to make a change in their lives. We have to show candidates how they are going to earn more, learn more, and do more at our company TwitterLogo_#55acee than they will at any other company. Most of the time, we’re better off hiring someone who can perform the job well enough to start and can grow into the more difficult parts of the role and expand it as they get comfortable.

Q: How do you determine current salary/wage range for a given job/position in a specific region of the country?

A: One of the NewHire Staffing Coordinators, Conor Roach, wrote a blog about this question recently. You can find that here. There are a lot of online resources for this that are inexpensive. A final note in that blog is that you can be broad in the way you list salary on your job advertisement. In doing so, you can ask your candidates specifically what they think this type of job ought to earn. Jotting down their responses in a central location is a good way to benchmark whether the salary you were thinking of paying is competitive.

Q: How do we get our hiring manager and others in the interview process not to hire themselves? (understanding that differences create stronger teams)

A: This boils down to how you prepare to recruit. If the hiring manager is a part of the conversation in which the target candidate is identified, you’ll be able to challenge that person to think about which behaviors, motivations, and skills are important (and that they’re not necessarily the same ones that the hiring manager has). When it comes down to narrowing the candidate pool and making an offer to someone, the hiring manager will be more open to “others.”  Defining a process with your team and holding them accountable will trim some of these biases out of the process.

That being said, not all hiring managers are willing to drink the Kool-Aid. That’s something you’ll have to have a serious conversation with them about. Here’s a clip from a pretty mediocre movie that might help with that conversation.

Q: How do you overcome an undesirable location? (50 mile commute from the city)

A: A handful of ways. I’ll knock off “pay more” and “move” from potential solutions, because if those were options, I’m sure you wouldn’t be asking. Not to mention, pay is just one of the reasons people come to work each day. For certain people, it’s not even at the top of the list.

Still, if you have an obstacle like undesirable location to overcome, I encourage you to think long and hard about your value proposition to the candidate and put it in the job advertisement! More on this in a second…

Companies with built-in recruiting issues like yours also need to plan in advance for a more continuous recruiting process, hiring good candidates when you find them and not just when you need them.

Q: How do you appeal to the best people to get them to even apply for a job?

A: Employee Value Proposition. Write it down and put it in the job advertisement. Everything from compensation to work environment to how darn good your company softball team is will motivate candidates to come work for you. I asked one of my account managers what he likes most about working in the office, and he said this:

  • He enjoys the people he works with
  • There is a place to park his bike indoors
  • There’s a shower in the office

Having trouble defining your EVP? Ask your employees! And, request our EVP checklist here.

Q: How to hire not just for the current opening but for the potential to step into the next role?

A: I like this question, because I like the underlying philosophy it reveals. It is often cheaper and more efficient to hire for an entry level position and train your employees into bigger and better roles with your company. If you need to fill an administrative role now, but you want the candidate to eventually move into sales, make some of those sales competencies part of your hiring process today. Add those competencies to the list of skills that your target candidate ought to fulfill. Look at the cognitive abilities of your candidate (by testing them), and seek out their behaviors and motivations in order to identify future leaders.

Later in the process, ask the candidate where they think they ought to be with your company in 5 years. Often, they will tell you if they are motivated to move into a management role, or a sales role, or whatever.

Step 2: Recruiting/Sourcing

Q: Where do you find good qualified applicants?

A: Short answer: I often find them here, among a variety of other places (referrals, etc.)

Longer answer: You never know where or when the right candidate is going to be looking. Sometimes they come referred from someone you haven’t talked to in years who saw your posting on LinkedIn. Sometimes they come from Craigslist. Sometimes they come from Indeed. The point is, the only way you’ll know if your job is competitive enough to appeal to those qualified candidates is if you put it in as many places as you can. If you’re still not finding those qualified applicants, maybe you need to take a few steps back and redefine your Employee Value Proposition or your target candidate. Problems later in the hiring process often stem from problems with the first step: Preparing to Recruit.

Q: Do you recommend different venues for advertising a job based on the type of job that it is?

A: To an extent. LinkedIn and are great places to find sales talent, because that’s where sales talent is motivated to go. I often hear, “We don’t want the type of candidate that comes from that website.” I want to combat this line of logic up front.

If you have a tool for sorting through candidates so that you don’t waste time on candidates who are unqualified, what does it matter where they come from? There are CFOs who search for jobs on Craigslist just as there are CFOs who search for jobs on Indeed. No one website is guaranteed to provide only specific types of candidates. My suggestion is always to get the job out to as many places as is feasible and narrow the pool from there.

If the job specification is narrow, industry job boards, LinkedIn groups and association websites may be helpful. These won’t produce large quantities of candidates however they could yield the right one.

Q: How do I train future and current leaders to be good at selecting talent?
Q: How do we train and educate hiring managers to look beyond skill to rather looking at competence and job fit?

A: This is something that NewHire often helps our clients do. You’ll have to lay out a hiring process that you believe in, make it clear and logical so that your current leaders understand it, and hold people accountable on following through on that hiring process.

Our own 6-Step Process is no secret, and it works very well. Most of the time, getting those leaders to understand how to select talent falls into the first step in recruiting, preparation.

Step 3: Screening: Identify Top Talent

There were no questions on Screening talent. That concerns me! Because having an efficient and objective screening process that relies on information about the candidate is important when there are a lot of candidates to sort through. Trusting your intuitions about a person’s resume can often lead to mistakes. Even the President of NewHire misspelled his first name on a job application once upon a time. Are you passing up the perfect candidate because of something small and insignificant?

For more questions and answers on pressing recruiting questions, see Part 2 of this blog post here.

Sean Little

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Sean is an Account Manager here at NewHire. When he isn't catering to the hiring needs of small businesses nationwide, Sean is busy campaigning for the Oxford comma, playing sports, and doing comedy. He takes his coffee with 2 creams, no sugar.

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