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The Hiring Guru: Should Employers Beware?

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Imagine you were out on a very first date. It is not likely you would culminate that evening with a marriage proposal, is it? So goes the first interview of a potential candidate for employment. No matter how well it went, there should always be a callback, a second date. This individual you hire may actually be present in your life more than your own family over the next several years of 8-12 hour days. It is of paramount importance that you apply this one simple Truth to hiring: Be diligent, not desperate.

Never rush into hiring a prospective candidate. Use diligence, not desperation. This truth means that while you probably needed to hire someone yesterday or months ago, you still need to hire carefully. Many expenses and legal obligations are assumed upon hiring a new member of the team; therefore, don't roll the dice indiscriminately. Business and personal factors are also involved. Upon being hired, this new employee is going to be visible every day. He or she is going to bring a specific personality to the workplace, for better or worse. This temperament will affect you and the existing staff; the "newbie" will now be part of your lives. It bodes well not to act in desperation. Grant more importance to doing your homework and finding a better fit. Don't merely hire any "warm body." A little diligence will save a significant amount of time in the long run.

It's not that I want to create a bleak outlook on all potential candidates you interview, but the cost of a new hire alone should cause you to pause. Employers should beware, especially in these uncertain financial times; you want to ensure that any new addition to the workplace is literally worth their weight in gold, or close to it. The cost of a new hire alone should be reason enough to take heed to this idea of diligence. Advertising, application review time, appointment setting, interviewing, testing, reference checking, paperwork, training, taxes, salary, bonuses, are all included in that cost and more. The hiring process is expensive. Often enough to discourage the desperation that sometimes sets in when a job is vacant. I've known many business owners who told me they end up hiring the first person who applies or walks through the door. Others run through all of the recommended steps for hiring and then just hire the one they "liked the most," ignoring test results, supervisor interview notes or some other "tell." Then when the employee becomes an epic fail I ask, "When did you first know they wouldn't work out?" The answer, invariably, is that there was some hint or tells during that first interview.

Here are a couple best practices I'd suggest for finding those diamond in the rough hires:

  • When phone screening, you should "hear" that prospective hiree smile. Funny but true, and, yes, you can tell. You only have to be an attentive listener.
  • Testing. Believe it or not, some people talk a good game, but don't have the experience or products to support it. Tests rarely lie.
  • An interview is a tug-of-war; so "pull" the information you want to know. It won't always be offered voluntarily. Seek answers to your questions and follow up on any statement that you don't understand or doesn't make sense.
  • Always bring prospects back for multiple interviews. The second date is easy to land after charming someone, but the third one always seems to be a more difficult commitment.
  • In checking references, be absolutely certain you talk to the right person; not only friends listed on the résumé. Supervisors from previous positions are the most valuable sources of accurate performance-related information. You then gotta grill the references.
In reality, the person accepting the job is much more nervous about "the hire" than you are. You are in control; therefore, selecting and hiring should be easy and straightforward. Multiple interviews, tests, and your comfort level will narrow down the candidates so you're able to select the right person for the job.

Ask the Hiring Guru! Your questions will be handled in upcoming weeks with best advice, no legal direction and some added flippancy where necessary. I'd also love to hear stories of your true-life hiring nightmares or dreams come true. Send your questions to huffpostblog@hiringacademy.com