Published - March 2004

By Dave Jakielo

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo…
Are You Hiring the Right People?

Have you ever made a bad-hiring decision? Are you spending more and more time on employee issues? When you give a staff member direction, do they think it's only a suggestion?

If you answered yes to any of the above, read on. This article could be helpful when it comes to interviewing and making the all-important hiring decisions that can make or break a company.

Even when reports indicate that the economy is slow and unemployment is higher than normal, it still seems that it's tough to find the right employees. Three important steps in the hiring process will improve your odds at landing the best candidate:

  • A Pre Screen Phone Interview
  • The in Person Interview
  • Follow-up

    Pre-Screen phone interview. Nailing this technique will eliminate people who won't fit in because they do not meet the minimum requirements of the position. Before conducting the pre-screen interview, prepare a list of job-related questions. Examples:

  • What are your salary requirements?
  • Are you able to lift boxes weighing 15 to 25 pounds (or other physical requirements)?
  • Do you have the technical skills to do (whatever the position requires)?

    Having a list of qualifying questions that can be answered over the phone can save you time and energy. There is nothing worse that conducting an interview only to find out in the first few minutes that the candidate doesn't meet the minimum requirements. Take notes during the pre-screen interview.

    The Interview. This can be a continuation of the above or set for another date. Follow the 80-20 rule: the candidate should speak 80 percent of the time and the interviewer only 20 percent of the time. Remember you need to find out more about the potential employee and he or she needs to find out about you. Resist the temptation to natter on about job qualifications and what a great corporate culture you have. It's your nickel-let them talk.

    Here are some other tips. If your office looks like a tornado recently passed through, find a neutral "non-disaster" place for the interview. You don't want a prospect to think your company (or you) are out of control or that the workload is so heavy it is stacked to the ceiling. It may make you feel good to think you're soooo busy, but it's a turn-off for a potential employee.

    Get out from behind your desk and sit face to face with the candidate, without any barriers in between. You want him or her to feel that you are on the same team. Don't allow interruptions during the interview-no phones, emails, or employee intrusions. This makes the candidate feel important and that you are a focused executive. If you can't make time for the interview, you may create the impression that you'll never make time for them as an employee.

    Although you may have the candidate's resume, have him also fill out an application (without referring to the resume). This way you can compare the two and check for any discrepancies.

    Follow-up. This step is as important as the two above before making an offer. There are estimates that upwards of 80 percent of resumes contain a fabrication (OK, a lie by any other name…). Unfortunately, it's imperative that you validated a candidate's resume.

    Length of past employment and education are the two areas people most often embellish. To verify education, contact the school or association that issued the credentials. Call past employers to ensure that employment start and stop dates are correct. I've seen resumes where a person has listed working for an employer for 5 years when in reality it was only five months.

    Some past employers maybe reluctant to give a recommendation or references relating to your applicant, however, most employers will answer the all important question, "Are they eligible for rehire."

    The above steps will make the hiring process a bit more organized and systematic. We always need to keep in mind that while the candidates are trying to sell themselves to us, we are selling our company to them. Each party needs to make a positive impression on the other.

    To delve deeper into this subject, I recommend a great resource: Hiring: More Than a Gut Feeling, by Richard S. Deems, Ph.D. I wish you continued hiring success.

    Send your questions and comments to Or he can be contacted at Seminars & Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15205. 412-921-0976.

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