Formic Media’s 5 Tips for Hiring

24 03 2009

Many HR Firms will give you advice on how to hire.  You’ve “Googled” and probably picked the best questions or suggestions out of the top “five things to know about hiring” and went about your merry way interviewing candidates.  Did it work?  Did you get the very best candidate?  Or perhaps it might not have worked out.  Was it unclear expectations?  Not enough information obtained from the interviews?  Were you unable to compare between the final candidates and make a good decision?

Formic is in the process of looking to add another person to our tight knit group.  Obviously each of us on the “hiring committee” has our own preferences and wishes for our new team member.  We thought it would be interesting to share our process, and the types of candidates we have encountered throughout our hiring process.   As the unemployment rate for Oregon reaches 11%, the candidate pool has increased, and there are so many talented candidates out there.  How do we sort through the tremendous amount of response to find that “perfect Formic employee”?

For this task, Formic has developed our own “top five things for the interview process“.  These are pretty common sense rules to work by, and have evolved over many years and candidates interviewed.

1. Telephone Interviews or Email Questions.

Have a few basic questions ready, this will help you discover from your candidate pool who you want to bring in for the real deal.  In this current job market, the pool is big.  Formic had over 300 replies to job postings, and from that point there was serious vetting to be done.  Telephone interviews helped us determine who was closest to our “prospective candidate” profile.  This saves you TIME since there is no set time to the phone interview.  It can be as long, or as short as you deem necessary.

2. Have a set of questions ready for the interview (phone or meeting).

This allows you to develop a quantifiable list to compare candidates to each other based on the day to day activities of the job, and of what potentially these people will encounter duty wise, and the skills that they will need to have to be successful.  How did we reconcile our own ideas and opinions into a group decision and process?  We started out by writing our own interview questions and then submitting them to the Formic group.  Just that simple process actually helped our own team by learning more about each other, and making us a more tightly bound group.  In hindsight, it really was a good team building task!  Another suggestion – throw in a bonus question, something that will surprise them and also give you a good indicator of their personality.  Don’t just make it about the job, their skills and what they can do for you.  Find out who they are.

3. A clear job description, and the skill set required to master the job.

This is a pretty obvious one, but one that small business owners tend to miss.  If you aren’t clear on the job, how can you even communicate that and expect your candidates to be able to respond.  If you say “bookkeeper”, that isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.  Also, if you have expectations and job duties ready to go, and this person fails – you have a clear outline of expectations with no ambiguities to the job.  Attached to this job description should be the range of salary, or hourly rate you are willing to pay.

4. Have more than one person interviewing prospective candidates.

Have more than one person interviewing the candidate serves a couple of purposes.  One, interviewing is highly subjective and based on a good deal of soft information. So, whenever possible, have at least one other person carefully interview the final candidates for a position. Two, you may be surprised with a fresh perspective.

5. Second Interviews.

You should always conduct a minimum of two interviews.   This can give you a fresh perspective of a candidate; they could relax and open up more, interview even better, or possibly worse.  Questions asked in the first interview could be answered differently.  It’s another opportunity to see the candidate in a new light.

Hopefully some of our experiences can help you in your own interviewing process.  We’d also like to hear what works for you.  What hasn’t?  Because of the current job market conditions and the increased candidate pool, you are going to have to be even more careful to hire the most talented and qualified candidate, not just the most talented job seeker.

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