interviewing

How to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process

No comments

Auditing your company’s balance sheet can tell you a lot about the health of your organization. Auditing your hiring process can tell you a lot about the health of how you choose your employees. Scott shares fives questions you can use to complete your assessment.

Scott WintripHow to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process
read more

When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow

1 comment

waterfallYou’ll likely agree that hiring is one of your most important tasks. Get it right, you make your job as a leader easier. Get it wrong, you make your job harder—and possibly put your career at risk. The desire to get hiring right is why many executives and managers are slow to hire and quick to fire.

Problem is, you’re beyond busy. Every day is full. An open seat means extra work you either have to do yourself or delegate. Add the steps of the hiring process, and your already busy day turns overwhelming.

How can you balance your need to make good hires while managing your day efficiently?

It’s all about talent flow.

Enrich and Harness Top Talent

The importance of talent flow came up recently at global CEO summit I attended. After my keynote address I stood on a balcony talking with a few CEOs from the audience. We looked out over a stunning landscape. Mountains stretched into the distance, dotted by lakes and streams, the rolling landscape accented with the beautiful orange and red hues of fall foliage.

On one side, a particularly beautiful lake drew our attention. One of the CEOs, who lived in the area, told us it was his favorite fishing spot. He explained the lake was fed by a spring. The spring burbles up from an aquifer, pumping in millions of gallons of oxygen-enriched fresh water. Water that sustains the fish and nurtures plant life. On the other side of this crystal clear lake was a stream. The stream served double duty—it allowed fish to swim downstream to seek food in nearby lakes, and carried away dead plant matter and other natural waste.

“That’s why it’s perfect for fishing,” the CEO said. “The flow in and out creates balance. There’s just enough fish, plants, and nutrients to keep it pristine.”

As we were talking, I happened to glance in the other direction and see another lake—one that was quite unattractive. There was no spring feeding this lake, nor was there a stream carrying away debris. It was stagnant, covered by a large algae bloom and choked with dead plants. I pointed it out and asked the CEO about it.

“It smells just as bad as it looks,” he said. “No one fishes there. Even if they did, I doubt they’d catch anything good.”

I nodded my head, making a connection. I was about to speak, but he anticipated my thoughts with uncanny accuracy.

“These lakes are a good metaphor for hiring,” he said. “The effective hiring you described in your keynote is like the lake where I fish. Flow creates abundance. In the spring-fed lake, the flow of water creates abundant life. In a company, a flow of talent gives the organization an abundance of human resources which allows it to achieve strategic goals. Talent may flow out, but a continuous supply of new talent brings new perspectives and people who can do great work.”

He was spot on. If there’s a secret weapon behind successful CEOs and top leaders, it’s making talent flow a strategic imperative. From the top down, these leaders know it’s incumbent upon them, not just HR or the talent acquisition team, to maintain a strong flow of talented people. Savvy leaders understand having a strong talent flow is a strategic necessity. Without that flow, departments—or even the entire organization—could end up like that stagnant lake.

How can you incorporate improved talent flow as a strategic imperative? Here are three important details I shared with the CEOs at the summit:

ENRICH THE FLOW

Like the spring feeding the lake, make sure your company has a constant inbound pipeline of prospective employees. Take steps to keep it strong. Work to generate a consistent stream of talented, valuable candidates. Weed out the weak sooner so they don’t waste your time later.

Only 10% of organizations across the globe maintain a strong flow of quality candidates and tap into overlooked pools of talent. That’s where you start—don’t be one of the 90%.

Your growth strategy must include a robust talent flow strategy. Make it a requirement. Task department heads to continuously assess and enrich the stream of prospective employees. Require it before jobs become open, not after. Provide them with resources to tap into a wider pool of candidates. Lead by example. Show them how to enrich the flow by actively networking, referring new candidates, and pointing them toward the pristine, spring-fed lakes best for fishing.

HARNESS THE FLOW

The healthy lake is the candidate pool; the interview is your rod, reel, and tackle. Effective interviews are how you harness the flow of top talent. They’re how you catch and land top team members. Unfortunately, most interviews fail at identifying the best people.

Effective interviews aren’t conceptual. Companies operate in the real world of balance sheets, deadlines, and deliverables. Interviewing should be a reality check—a pragmatic and efficient process that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision based on facts directly related to the job, not on theory, abstractions, or cute questions that may or may not be relevant to the task at hand. Which is, of course, finding the right person for your company.

The prettiest lure in the world is worthless if it doesn’t land the right fish.

Get the facts you need by taking a rational approach to interviews. Be like a scientist: gather and evaluate the evidence; make a decision based on that evidence—not on what you project or how a candidate spins a particular aspect of their resume or work experience. Look for proof the candidate can do quality work. Ask for real examples from previous work projects. If examples aren’t available, have them generate a sample—right then and there—related to the job for which they’re interviewing.

SUSTAIN THE FLOW

As your company takes steps to enrich and harness the flow of talent, there’s a risk you’ll change too much at one time.

Patience is a virtue many of us lack. In today’s fast-paced society, impatience is the norm. We want things done now, not weeks from now. To drive change, we set tight deadlines and push everyone, including ourselves, towards the goal.

Fast change rarely sticks. It takes time to adjust routines and change habits. A rapid series of changes can overwhelm us. We reach a tipping point and give up, reverting to our previous routines.

Incorporating an improved talent flow into your strategic plans is a must, but you have to make the timeline realistic and achievable.

As a leader, creating a vibrant organization begins and ends with you. When your company is already like that beautiful, thriving, healthy lake, you have an advantage. If your company is part of the forward thinking 10% that maintains a constant stream of incoming talent, keep it that way. Don’t build dams; make sure the spring keeps flowing.

If your organization is more like that stagnant lake, don’t fret. A lake can be restored to its former beauty—so can your company and all the departments in it. Make it a strategic imperative to tap that deep aquifer. Enrich, harness, and sustain the flow of top talent. When you make this proactive choice, you’ll keep your pool of potentials stocked with skilled, resourceful people who do great work, help you reach your strategic goals, and keep your company strong and thriving.

Scott WintripWhen It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow
read more

Making Hiring Great Again

No comments

Making Hiring Great Again (1)

Every election cycle is packed with lessons. This year, the Presidential election process, from the primaries all the way through to this early general election season, seems to have far more than usual.

One of these lessons is the danger of contradictions.

Take, for example, Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” To achieve this, he wants to build a wall and exclude people from entering the U.S. based on their religious—or maybe their regional—background. That’s a contradictory message, especially in a country that achieved greatness through inclusion and diversity.

The conflicting messages don’t stop there. Hillary Clinton calls for transparency. However, she’s not always transparent: witness her use of a private email server.

Contradictions erode trust, prompting people to question the motives of those who make contradictory statements or engage in contradictory actions. It’s little wonder that both candidates for President have some of the lowest favorability ratings in the history of Presidential politics.

CONTRADICTIONS IN HIRING

When contradictions exist in your hiring process, they erode the trust of top talent. The contradictions may be subtle, but their effects are always the same—they undermine your ability to attract and retain quality employees.

What are these contradictions, and what can you do about them? Here are three common examples:

CONTRADICTION #1
Keeping a job open until the right person shows up.

Talented people pay attention. They notice which organizations consistently have unfilled jobs, and they’re understandably suspicious when a job stays open for a long time. Top talent takes pride in their work history. The last thing they want to do is make a mistake that will haunt their resume for years to come.

Talented individuals watch you closely during your hiring process. How long it takes you to hire says a lot about how you think. When you require candidates to go through three or more rounds of interviews, they get suspicious. Instead of seeing you as a confident leader who’s unafraid to make bold, proactive, timely decisions, they see someone who’s cautious, timid, and gun-shy. Talented candidates want to work for confident people—because they’re confident, themselves.

The Alternative
Line up top talent and then wait for the right jobs to open up. This shows wisdom and foresight. When you recruit proactively, the very fact you don’t have openings works in your favor. There are lots of companies that are always hiring. Their constant turnover creates perpetually open seats.

Talented people don’t want to work for companies with high turnover rates—and if they can deduce that from simply looking at job postings, they scroll on by in search of greener pastures. They look jobs with stable companies, and they’re willing to wait for them.

Pre-emptive recruiting makes your company desirable. It gives job-seekers the impression it’s a great place to work, and a position on your team is one worth waiting for.

CONTRADICTION #2
Being slow to hire and quick to fire.

When you hire slowly, you operate out of fear: the fear making of a bad choice. Every company makes their share of poor hiring choices over the years, but overcompensating by slowing down your process neither solves the problem nor mitigates the consequences of the occasional bad hire. Speed and accuracy are not mutually exclusive.

When you slow your hiring process down to a snail’s pace, what you’re really doing is avoiding making a decision out of fear. You can tell yourself you’re being responsible, deliberate, and vetting your candidates from every angle, but what’s going on—and I say this after years of watching it happen over and over—is that you’re falling into the trap of analysis-paralysis. You’re wasting time and money by extending the interview process ad nauseam. Talented candidates sniff this out fairly quickly, then move on.

And your open jobs remain open.

The Alternative
Be fast to hire and quick to counsel. Start by lining up people before you need them. When a job opens, reach out to the person next in line. You already know them, so there’s no feeling out period and no lingering questions: you know you’re making a sound hiring choice because you did your due diligence ahead of time.

CONTRADICTION #3
Conducting conventional interviews in an unconventional world.

Conventional interviews don’t work. Why? Job candidates are always on their best behavior. They tell you all the right things and shares only the best parts of their background. Rather than painting a complete picture, a conventional interview narrows the lens, providing you with a mere snapshot of a person. This is why we’re often disappointed when the person we interviewed is not the one who shows up on Monday morning.

The problem with conventional interviews doesn’t stop there. During the interview, you’re selling the candidate on your company and culture. But no matter how many rounds you have in your process, conventional interviews don’t provide an accurate reflection of what it’s like to work at your company day-in and day-out.

The Alternative
Effective interviews are practical, not conceptual. Companies operate in the real world of balance sheets, deadlines, and deliverables. Interviewing should be a reality check—a pragmatic and efficient experience that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision. A decision based on facts directly related to the job, not on theory, abstractions, or cute questions that may or may not be relevant to the task at hand. Which is, of course, finding the right person for your company.

You can get the facts you need by taking a rational approach to interviews. Be like a scientist: gather evidence; evaluate the evidence; make a decision based on the evidence you gather—not on what you project onto them or how they spin a particular aspect of their resume or work experience. Look for proof that the candidate can do quality work. Ask for real examples from previous work projects. If examples aren’t available, have them do sample work related to the job for which they’re interviewing.

 

Back to that pesky election analogy: in the end, it might turn out that neither presidential candidate has what it takes to “Make America Great Again.” But the U.S. is already great in many ways, so the whole “Again” part of that slogan may be irrelevant, anyway. That said, savvy leaders—whether in business or politics—always find ways to leverage strengths, solve current problems, and make improvements in a business or in a country. They make things great. It remains to be seen if either candidate can do that for the U.S.

When it comes to your business, though, you have what it takes to get to the mountaintop. And when it comes to employee selection, you absolutely can “Make Hiring Great Again.” All it takes is getting rid of the contradictions in your process and applying effective remedies. If your process is already effective, you can always find ways to improve it by rooting out what doesn’t make sense—the contradictions—then implementing what does make sense: the logical alternatives.

Scott WintripMaking Hiring Great Again
read more

How Good Interviews Become Bad Hires

No comments

How Good Interviews Become Bad Hires

Just like a few good dates with an attractive person of interest can lead to a bad relationship, a good series of interviews with a talented job candidate can lead to a bad hire. The common thread linking these relationship mishaps is our cultural obsession with assessment. eHarmony tests compatibility using their proprietary 29 DIMENSIONS, Chemistry.com uses a system called the Chemistry Profile, and in my field–hiring–companies apply tools like Wonderlic, the DISC, and the Rembrandt Portrait.

Despite these efforts, we all still end up on bad dates and all organizations still make bad hires.

Why do our business leaders make poor hiring choices? Common culprits include:

  • Weak interviewing skills
  • Inaccurate hiring criteria
  • Poor cultural fit
  • Dishonest candidates
  • Hasty hiring decisions

All of these factors can cause hiring mistakes. However, highly skilled interviewers who avoid these missteps still blunder from time to time. The most attentive business leaders overlook crucial details, even when they’re supported by a rigorous candidate selection process. Professional recruiters will mismatch candidates, and they’ve conducted thousands of searches and interviews.

What’s the underlying issue in each of these situations?

It’s called hiring blindness.

Hiring blindness falls into a category of psychological phenomenon called inattentional blindness, which was first identified in the early 1990s by researchers Arien Mack and Irvin Rock. Also known as perceptual blindness, inattentional blindness occurs when an individual fails to recognize an unexpected stimulus that’s right in front of their eyes. This inability to spot critical stimuli is caused by gaps and limits in perception. It’s what allows magicians to manipulate attention to prevent an audience from seeing how a trick is performed. It’s also been identified as the reason drivers fail to notice motorcyclists they hit with their cars.

One of the best known examples of inattentional blindness comes from cognitive scientists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. In the late 1990s they created a video that later went viral on the internet. It begins with an offscreen narrator asking viewers to count how many times players wearing white t-shirts pass a basketball to one another. Ten seconds in, a person in a big black gorilla costume walks between the players, faces the camera, thumps its chest, then walks off screen.

The result? Chabris and Simons reported that half the people who watched the video completely missed the gorilla. That’s right. Half of them didn’t see it at all.

To put it simply, people have a tendency to see what they’re looking for, especially when their minds are primed and ready to see specific things. In hiring terms what this means is that you can be blinded by your own expectations. When you set yourself up to see a particular set of stimuli, you run the risk of missing the gorilla even when it walks right past you.

Different leadership styles further complicate the situation. Your leadership style narrows your perceptive ability and exacerbates your perceptual blindness. Your personality, expertise, and experiences shape your leadership style, which naturally, in turn, shapes your Hiring Style. Your Hiring Style ultimately affects your particular flavor of perceptual blindness, so it’s important to understand what your Hiring Style is. When you understand your Hiring Style, you can remove the blinders from your eyes and avoid making bad hires.

© 2015 Scott Wintrip All Rights Reserved

© 2015 Scott Wintrip All Rights Reserved


Hiring Styles

There are four main Hiring Styles.

The Tackler

Tacklers are fast and decisive. They want to be in control and reach goals quickly. During interviews, they get to the point quickly and appreciate people who do the same. Tacklers tend to hire candidates they think will condense timelines and hit targets fast.

The Teller

Tellers are talkers. They use their communication skills to motivate people. During interviews they talk a lot, often selling the candidate on the company and potential opportunities. Tellers tend to hire candidates they think will act upon what the Teller has said.

The Tailor

Tailors are collaborators. They point out that there’s no “I” in “team.” During interviews they build a rapport and allow conversation to become an open exchange of thoughts and feelings. Tailors tend to hire candidates they think are capable of cultivating strong workplace relationships.

The Tester

Testers are data-driven. They thrive on clarity. They make decisions based on tangible evidence. During interviews, they gather pertinent details and value facts over stories. Testers tend to hire candidates who offer quantitative evidence that they’re right for the job.

Knowledge in Action

The good news is that none of these styles is bad. They’re all good, actually. They’re what make us who we are. The bad news is that when we rely too much on our dominant style, it distorts reality. Our subjective perception, imperfect to begin with, gets even worse. We create opinions and beliefs about candidates that may or may not be true.

This is hiring blindness in a nutshell. We don’t see the real person. We see the person we set ourselves up to see. We see the person we want to see. Just like when we’re on first and second dates. We miss the red flags. We miss the gorillas walking by because we want the person to be the right fit.

This is how good dates become bad relationships, and how good interviews become bad hires.

When you recognize the downstream effects of your Hiring Style, you can limit its negative aspects and leverage strategies that counter hiring blindness.

“Understanding Hiring Styles is a game-changer when it comes to identifying top talent,” says Sharon Strauss, Vice President of Client Services at Vitamin T, a talent agency that serves creative digital professionals. “Having worked with thousands of hiring managers across the country, I have been amazed when really smart leaders couldn’t see or hear what I do. Over time I’ve realized that it’s simply practice and a structured approach that helps avoid mismatches, and the fact we do this all day long has helped! Anyone who is unaware of hiring blindness and how their Hiring Style affects this issue will continue to make the same hiring mistakes.”

Here’s an easy-to-follow, three step approach, structured to mitigate the distortive impact of Hiring Styles and reduce hiring blindness:

  1. Determine your Hiring Style. Use the descriptions above to become familiar with the different Hiring Styles, then carefully watch for evidence of them during future interviews to identify your dominant style.
  2. Recognize your blind spots. Blind spots hamper effective interviewing. Tacklers see drive, Tellers see buy-in to the company mission, Tailors see potential collaborators, and Testers see details. All four styles tend to miss things the others see. These are critical blind spots that lead to bad hires.
  3. Incorporate seeing-eye colleagues. It’s important to stack your hiring team with people of all four styles. This will give you an expansive, three hundred-sixty degree view of a candidate. A diverse, complementary team rarely misses important cues. Someone will see that gorilla walking by while the others are watching the ball.

 

It’s true that dating and hiring are similar processes. There’s one important difference, though: companies don’t have time for an extended courtship when they have an important seat to fill. As the speed of business increases, the precision and accuracy of the hiring process must keep pace. Companies have to create streamlined processes for identifying top talent quickly. If they don’t, the high divorce rate between bosses and employees will only increase.

 

Scott WintripHow Good Interviews Become Bad Hires
read more

Instantaneous Hiring: The Next Frontier of Talent Acquisition

No comments

Scott's Monday Morning Message“If you’re lucky enough to live in an Instacart zip code, you’ve already experienced the sheer joy of ordering Costco via your phone and having it delivered to your door two hours later,” states Leah McKelvey, Sr. Director, Sales & Partnerships at ClearEdge Marketing. “Have services like Instacart shifted expectations on the professional side too? Yes”

In a recent Q&A, Leah and I discussed how the growth of the on-demand economy is impacting how hiring is done. Read on about this growing trend and how you can prepare.

Leah: What do you see as the biggest trend that will impact the talent industry in the next 5-10 years?

Scott: The next 10 years will focus on instantaneous hiring.

Time-to-fill should be zero. However, it reached an all-time high this year – over 26 days.

It’s no surprise that jobs will open through resignations, terminations, transfers and business expansion. What is surprising is how few companies have created a system to immediately deliver talent exactly when and where it is needed. Quick and decisive hiring (filling roles with greater speed, more accuracy, and less effort) is becoming the new standard to combat this issue.

Leah: What evidence are you seeing of this trend making an impact already?

Scott: More and more buyers are demanding faster results. Why? They find waiting for talent unacceptable.

In an organization, an empty seat is like an open wound. It’s a painful distraction that interferes with the business’s core mission.

When there’s an empty seat, the work must either be redistributed or left undone, resulting in stress, costs, delays, and lost opportunity, as well as lower revenue.

We live in an on-demand world. Every day, we access more and more products and services at the click of a mouse, touch of a button or by dialing our phones. In order for staffing and recruitment firms to remain relevant and competitive, this same convenient access must be applied to acquiring talent.

Leah: How can organizations prepare for this trend?

Scott: First, they need to understand what slows down fast hiring. Especially if they hope to change this in their staffing firm. And, to get their customers to make faster decisions.

At least four problems get in the way. When trying to select a candidate for a job or assignment, people are:

  • Hampered by their beliefs (a common one is “slow to hire and quick to fire”)
  • Tapping into a pool of top-talent that is too small
  • Employing interview methods that are labor intensive and inaccurate
  • Allowing their open seats to interfere with sound decision-making

To combat these problems, staffing companies and recruitment firms need to stop using methods that are reactive and, instead, follow a process that allows them to fill jobs and assignments the instant they open.

This process should include:

  • Creating a continuous flow of candidates by improving the company’s pull on top-talent, called Candidate Gravity
  • Sizing up talent more rapidly, ensuring the right fit, right away
  • Building a pool of people ready to hire, while factoring in the reality that good candidates come and go

Leah: With this approach, what type of results should firms expect?

Scott: The ability to fill jobs and assignments in an instant, which I call High Velocity Hiring(SM), makes the competition, who can’t do this, irrelevant. Just like Netflix turned video stores, like Blockbuster, into unsustainable enterprises.

Firms who can deliver instantaneous hiring end up with larger market share and higher margins, both resulting from happier customers.

Leah: Can you share any examples or lessons learned as you’ve helped firms provide instant hiring?

Scott: Being able to deliver people on-demand becomes a healthy addiction. People who make this their way of doing business, keep doing it this way.

A good example is Beth Casey-Bellone. Over a decade ago, I showed her and her team at a staffing and outsourcing firm in New York how to move away from reactively filling jobs. Like many companies in the people business, they always needed good candidates and never seemed able to find enough. As a result, filling openings often took days and, in some cases, weeks to fill.

I helped them improve their Candidate Gravity, their ability to pull in quality people much more quickly. Also, how to employ Talent Manufacturing to build prospective employees before they are needed. They filled jobs and assignments, using their Talent Inventory, in minutes.

Scott WintripInstantaneous Hiring: The Next Frontier of Talent Acquisition
read more