You could have worse issues to deal with than whom to hire, but that’s the situation. The job description has been posted. The resumes have been received and looked over. The interviews have been conducted. Now the decision must be made. Let’s add another layer to the mix, the interviews were panel style; a collaborative effort with the managerial team, giving you even more information to break down.
In a perfect world this would be easy peasy because your interview questions would be structured and organized. The questions would be relevant to the essential job duties and behavior necessary for success. In a perfect world these questions and responses would be measured and weighted thus allowing you to score the interview results based on desired responses. The interviewers would have taken stellar notes during the interview process capturing the applicant’s responses and character for all the hiring decision stakeholders to read. Ideally, all of you would agree on the best fit for the job, but this ain’t a perfect world. As we’ve discussed before, there are also loaded interview questions. People like to use “gut feelings” to make hiring decisions and the collaborative interview setting can be dicey, and by dicey I mean a complicated mashup of different points of views. Fact is: everyone is an interviewing expert with different perspectives.
The HR versus Management
HR will usually make its hiring decision based on responses, while the department manager or team member tends to choose based on personality. That makes sense because they are the ones performing the day to day job duties; they are the ones that will be working with this candidate so they tend to look at the less technical side of things. Human resources usually go along with it, not always but generally. Skills can be taught, personality can’t. Who wants to work with a rotten tomato?
But that could be why the process doesn’t work. Human behavior is the most unpredictable variable in the workplace. Most HR related issues can be tracked to bad hiring decisions within the talent selection process. This is kinduva big deal, so we need to be certain that we are using the correct information to make the best choice. So how do you select the best candidate, do you want skills? Personality? Education? Experience? Referrals? Or all of the above? Of course you want it all, but often times we are called to a choice. We have to decide which are the most relevant.
As a member of HR, I can recall a collaborative panel interview process with a member of the management team. We were hiring a new trainer, my old position actually. The manager felt that she and her team of managers needed to have a voice in the decision because they would be working closely with the new trainer regarding on-going training initiatives and coaching new employees during the transition from trainee to “regular” employee.
We (the HR team) felt it was important to have someone that understood the different technical aspects of training, like how to accommodate different learning styles, how to identify and make adjustments to the training material and adapt to rapid changes. The managers wanted someone that “fit” and could get along with everyone.
After reviewing our notes, analyzing the interview responses, and performing all the background investigation, HR made a choice. We won that battle … but not the war; after 2-3 months our choice did not pan out. Oh, what happened? She said something about too much work or whatever. Maybe we did not put enough weight on management’s notes? The second time around, we had the resumes of the other candidates but we didn’t have interview notes. Which other candidates did we like? And why did we like them?
So it was back to the drawing board. Reposting, interviewing more candidates, more debates and more scribbled hand writing to figure out. Maybe the manager’s choice was the correct way to go. Hindsight is 20/20, if we had software to track applicant data we could have possibly made a different choice.
Hiring decisions are costly, which means it’s imperative that you get it right, preferably the first time. If we had a better applicant tracking system – well if we had any ATS – the decision may have been faster and easier. A system that would have allowed us to review, rate, and share candidate data, instead of hand written notes. If all the interviewers could input information in the system immediately so it’s easily categorized, evaluated and referenced, then the entire thing would be a lot more efficient.
Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work. Connect with Chris via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo Credit OfficeHell