Step One: Prevent hiring mistakes: figure out the knowledge you need to grow
Knowledge in business is like footwork in basketball: if you get it right, everything else is way easier. Think about it – good footwork means players can:
- Establish good post stance
- Get space for the shot
- Beat others to the basket
- Set good screens
- Crash the boards aggressively
Excellent footwork leads to excellent scoring performance. In business, to score an unbeatable competitive advantage, evaluate the business version of footwork: knowledge. Figure out what knowledge you need and adjust your talent strategy to get it, because getting it wrong is costly.
Business leaders report they spend as much as $25,000 to fix a bad hire – sometimes more. The Recruiting Roundtable’s Senior Director Donna Weiss explains, “Given the high cost of early career turnover, organizations cannot afford to make the wrong hiring decisions.” Don’t believe it? Just ask boss who has ever said, “Now remind me again, why did we hire that guy?” So what drives the knowledge and talent mistakes?
When asked, 81% of managers reported that it was what they did (or did not) do that resulted in hiring the “wrong” employee; only 19% said the error could be blamed on the applicant.
The Recruiting Roundtable and other research identifies three important reasons behind the hiring mistakes caused by managers: (1) managers over-rely on candidates describing themselves rather than demonstrating what they can do, (2) managers don’t follow a consistent, evidence-based selection decision process, and (3) they fail to provide the candidate with enough information about what the job is really like.
The most common reason given by the 19% who said they could blame applicants their hiring errors? The applicant misrepresented himself or herself on the resume or during the interview… which is more or less an indictment of a hiring process that cannot detect exaggerations or lies.
Take just 30 minutes to figure out what knowledge you need to grow and it will off all year! Hiring managers can easily overlook the best candidates just because they are vague about the knowledge they need. Use this simple, four-step technique to clarify your unique, job-specific knowledge needs.
1. Be sure the job title makes sense and conveys good information to candidates. The best candidates want to know what they are applying for!
Don’t use titles like Support Ninja, Director of Customer WOW, Social Media DJ, or anything with “guru” in it. Instead use informative titles like Customer Support Rep, Manager of Customer Service, Social Media Analyst, Sales Representative, or IT Security Specialist.
2. Next, make a short list of the knowledge that leads to success in the job. This list gets you focused on what matters most; go for three or four. Here are a few examples:
- Good communication skills
- Ability to persuade others
- Adjusting action based on the other’s actions
- Analyze problems and develop multiple solutions
- Conduct research using databases and repositories
- Produce financial and market intelligence
- Generate reports that help execs make decisions
IT Security Specialist
- Protect computer networks and information from intrusion
- Safeguard digital files and vital electronic infrastructure
- Respond to computer security breaches and viruses
3. Now, build on the short list by listing specific tasks performed in the job – most jobs will have nine or ten tasks. Here is an example for the IT Security Specialist position.
- Encrypt data transmissions and erect firewalls to conceal confidential information as it is being transmitted and to keep out tainted digital transfers.
- Develop plans to safeguard computer files against accidental or unauthorized modification, destruction, or disclosure and to meet emergency data processing needs.
- Review violations of computer security procedures and discuss procedures with violators to ensure violations are not repeated.
- Monitor use of data files and regulate access to safeguard information in computer files.
- Monitor current reports of computer viruses to determine when to update virus protection systems.
- Modify computer security files to incorporate new software, correct errors, or change individual access status.
- Perform risk assessments and execute tests of data processing system to ensure functioning of data processing activities and security measures.
- Confer with users to discuss issues such as computer data access needs, security violations, and programming changes.
- Train users and promote security awareness to ensure system security and to improve server and network efficiency.
- Coordinate implementation of computer system plan with outside vendors.
4. Finally, look at the key knowledge factors from step two and the task list from step three. What are the most important responsibilities for this job? There are usually three or four. These help you more accurately screen applicants. For the IT Security Specialist position these are the most important responsibilities:
- Plan, implement, upgrade, and monitor security measures for the protection of computer networks and information.
- Ensure appropriate security controls are in place to safeguard digital files and vital electronic infrastructure.
- Respond to computer security breaches and viruses.
Too many managers rely on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to talent management. They believe that somehow their gut will tell them what to do. The results speak for themselves: recent research finds that 50% of managers and 50% of new hires are both unhappy with their job decisions! FYI – it costs more to run your business when people are not a strong match for the job and are not engaged or satisfied.
So this year, get clear on the knowledge you need – with that talent “footwork” in place managers can:
- Identify the best job candidates (Establish good post stance)
- Create effective on-boarding and training (Get space for the shot)
- Help new hires reach peak productivity faster (Beat others to the basket)
- Outperform competitors (Set good screens)
- Collaborate and rebound faster after setbacks (Crash the boards aggressively).