It’s often said that people are an organisation’s most valuable asset.
But according to author Jim Collins, “the old adage ‘People are your most important asset’ is wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are”.
So if you’ve hired the wrong person for a job, can you train and develop them to become the right person?
Research by human resources firm DDI suggests that for certain facets of work, training and development – no matter how good, or how much of it you provide – is just not a solution for poor hiring decisions. Some things, after all, just can’t be taught.
The solution rather, is taking the time to develop excellent recruitment processes in the first place. Not only does this help to insure against a bad hire, but it also saves you precious resources that might be spent training someone who just isn’t a good enough fit for their role.
DDI’s research is expansive, drawing on the experience of more than 250 staffing directors and 2,000 new hires from 28 countries – and there are plenty of useful insights for not-for-profits, large and small. Below, we’ve distilled some of the key mistakes that organisations make in their recruitment and selection processes, as well as tips on how you can improve your recruitment processes in future.
Key recruitment and selection mistakes
In the research results, just 48% of all organisations said they thought their hiring processes as a whole were highly effective. Here’s what candidates and recruiters thought was going wrong:
1) Giving an unrealistic picture of the job
While it might seem obvious, make sure your recruitment process involves giving candidates an accurate description of the job – usually as part of the interview. DDI’s research showed that only 51% of newly-hired employees feel confident in their decision to accept a new job offer. But the research also found that organisations that paint a realistic picture of the advertised role end up with staff who feel more confident taking the job. For example, many not-for-profit organisations assume job-seekers know the ins-and-outs of the programs they’re advertising roles in, and inadvertently gloss over the details in the job advertisement and PD.
Staff who know what they’re getting into are also more highly engaged, and less likely to consider job-hunting again once they’ve worked out what their new position really involves.
2) Interviewers aren’t properly trained, or are asking the wrong questions
When DDI asked staffing directors for their top reasons behind hiring mistakes, nearly a third pointed to over-reliance on the evaluations of hiring managers, and 21% to candidates overselling themselves. Make sure either you or your hiring managers are diving deep in interviews, and asking for examples to back up any skills or experience the candidate says they have.
This will likely involve training your interviewers and refining your organisation’s interview processes. From DDI’s research, only one in three HR directors said their hiring managers are good at leading high-quality interviews. Funnily enough, only the same percentage (one third) of staffing managers are satisfied with their training as an interviewer. If you don’t already, it’s worth looking at the training your hiring managers receive around how to conduct interviews.
Other common mistakes identified in the research included:
- Staff responsible for hiring not closely following the organisation’s selection process;
- Not gathering enough information on each candidate;
- Overlooking details in the information candidates did provide; and
- Hiring for a quick win, rather than framing interview guidelines around a set of desired competencies.
Practical steps to improve your next recruitment round
With all of this in mind, here are four things you can do to maximise your chances of making a hiring decision you’re happy with down the track:
- Be clear on your ideal candidate. Make sure the skills, experience, knowledge, and attributes you want your new staff member to have are clearly defined. Divide these into which are trainable, and which aren’t. This will help you identify your non-negotiables.
- Pick your tools. Which selection tools will most easily identify candidates that don’t fit your profile? As much as possible, tailor these to each position you hire for. For example, a structured interview may be best for program managers, whereas a pre-employment test may be a much better indicator for frontline workers. There are plenty of selection tools to choose from – take time to think through which will give you the best outcome.
- Plan for efficiency. Now you’ve got your tools, how can they best be organised to save time and money? For example, could you be phone-screening candidates before inviting them in for interviews?
- Use analytics. While it can be tricky to measure results across different programs and parts of your NFP, analytics are essential if you want to accurately reflect on past mistakes, repeat good decisions and keep improving your hiring processes.
Of course it’s impossible to create the ‘perfect’ hiring process, but it’s a goal well worth working towards. Research by the Boston Consulting Group has found that, of all the areas of people management, effective recruitment practices have the single greatest impact on the performance of private-sector organisations.
While performance is more difficult to judge in the NFP sector, better recruiting practices will undoubtedly save your organisation time, money and the complex work of dealing with a bad hire!
Does your organisation have a great hiring process? Please share your secrets in the comments below!
This post is based on a blog post by Mark Busine of DDI Australia.