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Hiring Manager Tips

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Advice for Hiring Managers


Interviewing candidates can be an arduous task. It takes time, research, and a keen sense of perception. You are researching your candidates as much as they are researching you and your company. You want the best of the best, a unicorn, a purple squirrel. And even with your best efforts and using the latest hiring manager tips, the wrong choice can lead to an expensive endeavor. A bad hire can take a toll on your budget, project timelines, and team morale.

After reviewing applications, cover letters, and resumes, you might feel that you can choose the crème de la crème of potential personnel for an interview. But first …

Be honest and upfront about the job requirements

What aspects of the job can be trained? What aspects are non-negotiable? Is a degree mandatory for the role?

Paint a picture for the applicant of what a typical day might look like, what areas will require the most time and effort, and the timeline of a possible career trajectory.

Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating a candidate:

Are their skills and qualifications an ideal match for the position?

Make sure the candidate has the necessary aptitudes and credentials for the position. These include degrees, certifications, or a certain level of experience in a particular industry.

Are they a good fit for your department?

The person you're hiring should have the personality and collaborative skills necessary to work with your team. Culture is more than a company offering casual Fridays and golf putters in the common area. Culture is how the group follows the company's mission, vision, and goals. It's treating each other with dignity and respect in an environment to safely share ideas, voice opinions, and support each other in work projects. If the person you are interviewing doesn't appear to fit your team’s culture, they might not be a viable option despite whatever credentials they may bring to the table.

How are their soft skills?

Yes, technical skills are critical, but so are others. How are their communications skills? Are they articulate? Do they write well? Do they listen?

Problem-solving is another top skill to look for. Ask interview questions to determine if they can think quickly on their feet and come up with creative solutions to challenges.

Most importantly, assess their level of passion. Skills can be taught; passion is a gift. Those people tend to be enthusiastic and motivated in most situations.

As with everything, hiring requires balance. As you are evaluating positive attributes, you should also be wary of warning signs:

A candidate is unprepared for the interview

Candidates should show you they did their research. And they certainly should be able to speak to how their skills and experience relate to the position you are offering. Generic answers can mean they didn't take time to prepare. Not putting effort into the interview could be indicative of future work performance.

The interviewee is short on details

They either may not have strong communication skills or are vague and have initially exaggerated their skillset. Be sure to ask probing questions to extrapolate information.

There are many gaps in a resume or a history of short-term employment

Consistency is key. If a candidate has more than one long-term gap in their employment history, or if their tenure at previous places of employment was short-lived (one year here, six months there), you should directly ask them to explain their work history. Some reasons are entirely legitimate, like when someone decides to stay home for a few years to be a full-time stay-at-home parent. Or perhaps their industry had been in flux, and there were unavoidable layoffs. However, this could also be indicative of a pattern of behavior. For example, the potential employee might be a flight risk. Or previous employers found their work to be less than stellar.

Go with your gut instincts. When a hire just isn't working out, you often realize that you had concerns or unanswered questions from the beginning. Trust your intuition.

Regrettably, bad hires aren't always avoidable. So, what are your options if you find yourself in a situation where the unicorn you thought you hired was merely a donkey in disguise?

Your shiny new employee for whom you had such high hopes appears to be lower-performing or has a personality that isn't gelling with you or the rest of your team. Do you invest additional time coaching them and see if they improve their performance? Or do you cut your losses sooner than later and move them out the door?

Retention is key. You will be doing the new hire, your team, and yourself a disservice if you don't initially try to make this professional relationship work. Try to avoid biases regarding how the role has always been done. Maybe a creative, innovative person is striving to exceed role expectations. Think strategically about how each team member’s skills could be best utilized.

Have a kind and professional conversation with them. Discuss role expectations and responsibilities. Remember to set qualifiable and quantifiable key performance indicators that are reasonable to achieve. You and your new employee should leave the conversation with the anticipation that if expectations aren't met, there will likely be a parting of ways.

Turnover is inevitable, and there's no foolproof method of avoiding bad hires. But as much as interviewees are expected to prep themselves for interviews, so should you. To help maximize your chances of acquiring a great hire, look for red flags early on and ensure key team members are involved in the hiring process. If you make a not-so-great hire, do your best to manage expectations with them. In the end, if it's not meant to be, cut your losses, write copious notes, and take another dive into your applicant pool. Even if unicorns can't swim, squirrels can.

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