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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Don't Be Duped into Hiring the Wrong Person

We all want to hire the best talent out there. On some occasions when we can't find one we can afford, we look for the best one our limited money can buy. That's normal, but how do we know good talent when we see one? In my experience as a manager and as a recruiter, I discovered that many managers can't distinguish a good hire from a bad one until it's too late. Don't get me wrong here. My talent distinguishing skill is far from being perfect. I see that as a good thing because everyday, I am in pursuit of ways to be better at it. I believe that all managers should. Because as I said in my previous post, hiring is everything.

Now, let me close in on what I really want to say here. On one occasion in the past, I would point to a training participant and tell his or her boss that I think "this one's got talent". The boss would say, yeah, he's a good talker but he seldom gets anything done and most of his work is mediocre at best. The boss felt she's been had when she hired the person. It took me a couple more of similar incidents to figure out that good looks, exceptional communication skills does not always make for a good worker or manager. Like me however, a lot of hiring managers are fooled and regret that foolishness shortly after.

I'm not bashing people with good communication skills here. I believe that communication skill is an important asset for anyone especially the leaders of organizations. It is however, not the be-all-and-end-all of workmanship. What I'm saying is that somebody who is rough around the edges when it comes to communication, but has proven capability to get things done is mostly likely the one we all really need. You know how much we dislike anyone who is all talk and no or limited action.

If you are going to hire someone soon. Here are the things I propose you do:

Dig into the person's past performances. What did the person accomplish that he can be proud of? How did he handle difficult situations? What did his subordinate say about him? When I face a fresh graduate applying for an entry level job, I ask about what that person did in school. Did she lead a school organization? Did he participate in special school activities? how well did she do in class? We're she able to make use of her talent?

Check the person's background. Candidates who are desperate because of previous failures learn to read books that prescribe techniques on how to ace interviews. Would you believe that there are books on competency-based interviewing for interviewers and there's one for interviewees? How crazy is that?! Anyway, look for proof that the critical behaviors you are looking for really happened.

If you are looking to develop a new comer, look for signs of aptitudes and personal characteristics that you need in a job using assessment tools. I've heard how many people say they don't believe psychological and personality tests and for many of them the reason I can think of is ignorance or failure to understand how these things work. I blame the ones who administer these tests. They don't thoroughly explain how these things work and how useful these can be for determining potentials and predispositions.

Bottomline (because this is getting longer than it should) We should all continually find the best way to hire so we don't get duped into choosing someone who doesn't really deserve the job and let go of the right candidates just because they don't match our faulty expectations.

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