SmartRecruiters Blog

The All Encompassing Anti Zombie Hiring Guide

Let’s face it: hiring great employees is not easy. First there’s crafting and drafting the actual job posting, followed by pre-screening resumes then a series of often not impressive enough interviews. Yes the hiring decision is not only complex, but the process can also be long, time consuming and tiring. It’s no wonder why managers often cut corners and end up with what I warm body syndrome or what I also call, the zombie employee.
Here are five ways to train HR managers to hire long-term employees instead of those coming in day after day and acting like zombies:

1. Consider Pre-Employment Skills Based Testing: One of the most common practices in the Human Resources profession is to implement pre-employment testing. Whether you’re looking for a specific skill set or personality each test can be tuned to fit specific needs of your company. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have about a potential candidate can make the difference in a long-term hire versus a mind-numbing zombie.

2. See Them in Action: I call this technique Shopping for Employees. Learn to think outside the box on this point. In the past I have gone out and essentially headhunted new recruits for the position I was trying to fill. If you’re hiring for a retail job, head out to your nearest Wal-Mart or competitor at 2 am. Find the nicest, most customer-service prone employee and flip them your business card, let them know you’re hiring and give them a few reasons why they should come work for your company as opposed to their current employer. Sometimes seeing candidates in action will give you a real idea of how they interact with complete strangers when no one is looking.

3. Phone Screening: An unscheduled phone interview gives you the surprise advantage. You’ll get the best reaction from a potential candidate when they’re not expecting your phone call. This will allow the recruiter or human resources manager to gain better insights on the initial reaction to how a potential candidate treats a stranger. We all hate bill collectors and telemarketers, but the ability to treat everyone with respect even through the telephone shows a lot about a candidates demeanor.  Hit them with a double whammy and use a unknown number to really get a sense of how they treat anyone and everyone on the fly.

4. Situational Interviews: Pose them with situations that they might’ve been involved with in past jobs and see how they would respond. A lot of companies already do this, but in order to get someone who is willing to stay for the long haul really drill down exactly what you are wanting in an employee then hold them to those exact standards upon hiring.

5. Leave Out the Closed-Ended and Probing Interview Questions: What do these situations really tell about candidates? Asking hypothetic questions that aren’t relatable to the job won’t tell you a whole lot about the candidate besides how well they’re able to BS an answer. Instead, use situational questions and get down to the real facts behind how a candidate will act in real-life situations that happen in your company. These types of questions will tell you much more then probing/closed ended questions will tell you.

If you follow these five easy suggestions your department will soon find their quality of hire on the rise and the number of zombie employees on the decline. How does your company hire better quality employees?


Jessica Miller Merrell Blogging4JobsJessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs, Huffington Post and SmartBrief. When she talks, people listen. Image Credit Ely Tran.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.