There is nothing more frustrating than doing a lot of work and spending time and energy on tasks that are either undervalued or outright dismissed. It is even more demotivating when your work is thwarted by individuals who have less experience and expertise than you in a particular domain. Unfortunately I see this all of the time as it related to the hiring process. Oftentimes when talking with decision makers, I’ll come across someone who wields a good deal of power and influence within an organization, and many times, they use it to influence the hiring process as well. The down side is that too often this person is not well versed in selection methods and really has no idea what they are doing (to be perfectly honest) when it comes to hiring top talent.
Although I have heard LOTS of terrible ideas about how to go about hiring I am still always amazed at what some people think are good selection practices. It ranges from never hiring a candidate with a limp handshake to insights about what it means when a candidate wears brown shoes with a black suit. The common theme to these discussions is that the hiring managers are not focusing on the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for successful job performance. You would be amazed at some of the things I hear on a rather consistent basis. Below is a summary of the common challenges and mistakes we most often hear from organizations.
Resume Reviews – One of the biggest areas of frustration is when we (as HR practitioners) define the basic and minimum qualifications, develop the tools, and execute the selection process (e.g., application, phone screen, testing, etc.) just to have a hiring manager request that we send them ALL of the resumes so that they can “pick” who they want to interview. Not only are resume reviews unreliable but this type of request ignores all of the good work we have done so far screening candidates.
Picking the “Best” – I think we have all, at one point or another, felt the pressure to fill a position quickly as opposed to filling it with the right person. Hiring managers sometimes request that we hire the “best” candidate in the current pool while ignoring whether or not the candidate is actually the right fit for the job. Remember that just because you have candidates in your pipeline doesn’t mean they are “qualified candidates”.
Referrals – Oh the almighty referral! HR Practitioners have come to hate referrals because too many times we are forced to hire the referred candidate based on their relationship with a member of the organization. Think about when the referral comes from the C-Level. We might as well throw up our hands and send an offer letter just because we are fed up fighting for consistent hiring processes. Why is it that we like to believe a candidate is immediately hire-able if they were referred by another member of the organization? Don’t get me wrong, referrals are a great way to increase your candidate pipeline. However they are a terrible way to hire if you are simply taking someone at their word that this is a good candidate. Referrals need to go through the same steps in the hiring processes as all other candidates.
Long story short, my guidance is to do whatever you can to ensure that the tail is not wagging the dog. As selection practitioners we need to educate the decision makers who have influence over the hiring process about best practices when it comes to hiring. Keeping those people involved in the process is important but we also need to ensure they aren’t driving the process. If they are driving it, then they are simply viewing the recruiters as administrative assistants. We need to consult with the decision makers to display the value we bring to the hiring process. We need their input, for sure, because they are experts in their fields and we need their input on those technical skills needed for successful job performance. But we need to remind them that WE are the selection experts.