By UpCounsel Employment Attorney Karen Selby

Finding new employees or replacing members of your existing team can be challenging. The old adage “good help is hard to find” may begin to ring in your head and stifle your quest to find new talent.

But don’t be dismayed – technology and a modern staffing approach can make this task rather simple. A well-thought-out job description, proper screening techniques and a structured interview process can all work together to find the best candidate for your organization and get you well on your way to employing additional support to tackle your ever-growing workload.

Create a Comprehensive Job Description

The first and often overlooked step in finding good candidates is figuring out what you want your future employee to do. A well-thought-out job description can lay the foundation for your job posting, interview questions and future performance reviews, so put the work in on the front end to get a good product.

  • List the duties of the job by emphasizing “the ability to perform” certain functions and the “willingness to provide” assistance in various regards. Be specific to the actual needs of the organization and don’t waste time trying to cover every aspect of the job. This will give employees room to grow and actually make the job their own.
  • Create core competencies that correlate with the needs and culture of the team. For instance, when recruiting a leader to manage a poorly performing team, you may want to utilize competencies focused upon “fostering teamwork” and ” building collaborative relationships” or “influencing others.”
  • Utilize required and preferred qualifications when looking for certain educational requirements or skills. Having a Bachelor’s Degree may be a required qualification for the job; however, having a Master’s Degree can be a preferred qualification. You may require that someone have 5-10 years of customer service experience, but you can prefer that the candidate have this experience in your particular industry. Using this method may broaden your candidate pool and allow you to balance minimal education requirements against years of experience in a certain field.

Screen Potential Candidates

Use multiple screening methods to narrow your candidate pool and “weed out” people who are not a good fit for the job. This will cut down on the number of interviews and shorten your time to hire.

  • Use “knock out questions” during the online application process to screen out candidates who do not meet the minimum qualifications for the job. If the job requires a degree in electrical engineering, your first “knock out” questions should be “do you possess a degree in electrical engineering”. If the answer is no, move onto the next candidate.
  • Conduct phone screens to ask a few questions about the candidate’s experience in relation to the most important aspects of the job. This is not a time to conduct a full interview. Spend no more 10-15 minutes with each candidate and inform them that you will be in contact with them if they are selected to move onto the next phase of the selection process.
  • Narrow your talent pool down to 3-5 candidates. Interviewing more than 5 candidates is unproductive. Using the screening techniques referenced above should garner 3-5 strong candidates for your interview process.

Begin Interviewing

Set aside at least one hour per interview but don’t rush the process. Interviews can take up to two hours depending upon the candidate and the conversation.

  • Use a structured or behavioral interview process in which each candidate is asked the same general questions. You can also use follow-up or “drill down” questions to elicit more information where needed. Asking each candidate the same question or series of questions makes it easier to evaluate and compare their skills and experience when making your final selection.
  • Talk less, listen more and take lots of notes in order to collect the most information from the candidate. When candidates feel that they “have the floor” and the interview appears to be more of a conversation than an interrogation, they tend to open up more. You may get insight into their good and bad past performance. Let them talk and write everything down.
  • Leave time for questions and be open and honest about the work environment, overtime requirements, and anticipated salary. Find out at the interview table if the candidate is available to work weekends or if an emergency arises – don’t wait until they are on your payroll to find out the answer is “no”. This is also a good time to tell the candidate about the job and the culture of your organization.

Pick the Right Person

Don’t go it alone! Use a panel of your peers to interview the candidates and select the right candidate. Use a diverse panel in order to garner varying views and opinions. Compare notes and come to a consensus on the best person for the job.

  • Give each question a numerical value and score each candidate based upon his/her answers and examples. For instance, if you run a widget making business and your goal is to make 100 widgets in an hour, the candidate that can give you clear examples of exceeding this goal in his/her previous position should score the highest.
  • Come to a consensus with your interview panel on the score for each candidate. Talk through the answers of each interviewee (this is why it’s important to keep your interview pool small, and clarify areas where you may have missed some information). If you have formulated your questions properly and scored each candidate efficiently, the person with the highest score should be the right one for the job.

The Takeaway

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of finding the right person for the job. There are great candidates out there. Having a structured process to develop your job descriptions and screen the best candidates for the job will allow you to fill your positions relatively quickly and ensure that you get the best fit for your organization.

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About the author

Karen Selby

Karen Selby

Karen is a graduate of Howard Law School and Rutgers University. As an attorney and HR professional, Karen is a self proclaimed “lawyer living in an HR world” who is passionate about labor and employment law.

Over the course of her twenty year legal career, Karen has dedicated the bulk of her talents to exclusively representing Management in employment and labor law matters. She also specializes in workplace investigations, termination proceedings and severance agreements.

She protects her clients by providing consulting services that ensure compliance with federal & state labor and employment laws and consistent employment policies.

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