Hiring the Right Talent the First Time

March 4, 2009 -- Sal Silvester

Talent. In its most simple definition talent is any individual who has the capability to make a significant difference to the current and future performance of the company.

It is no wonder that more and more organizations are realizing the importance of good talent as a competitive edge. The scary thing is that in the next 10 years, HR professionals expect three out of 10 employees in their organization’s workforce to retire. That’s a lot of talent leaving organizations.

Are you ready to replace these individuals without sacrificing productivity? Customer service?

In these tough and competitive times, and certainly in tight labor markets, the need to hire the right talent the first time must be a top organizational strategy.

Some Perspective

Selection is the process of choosing individuals with the right qualifications to fill jobs. Without qualified employees, the organization’s success suffers. To put this in perspective let’s look at some HR truisms:

“Hire tough, manage easy.” It is true; the amount of time, effort and energy that you put into the hiring process may make management of your new employees much less difficult because many problems will be eliminated up front.

“Good training will not make up for a bad hire.” When the right individuals are not hired for jobs, employers have much more difficulty trying to fill the gap with training.

Eventually these poor hires are turned over, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and they have to be replaced. Turnover adds to a company’s costs in numerous ways. One study indicates that 45% of surveyed employers estimate annual turnover cost to be $10,000 to $45,000 per employee. For higher-level professionals and executives the cost can run as much as two times the annual salary of each individual.

Organizations who can manage their human capital by hiring right the first time have the competitive edge. And, when employees are matched with the right jobs, then the amount and quality of work is more positive. All of this affects your bottom line.

Some of the inappropriate and poor tactics I have come across in consulting with line managers, supervisors and even some executives about their hiring/interviewing processes are appalling and unbelievable. Here are some actual examples of interview questions:
“What church do you go to?”
“What will your husband think of you working long hours?”
“What nationality are you?”
“Are your kids going to be a problem in making it to work on time?”

Needless to say, these questions don’t get at the heart of identifying talent, and they drive potential talent away. Interviewing is just one of many issues in the hiring process that needs to be addressed.

A Solution

Ownership of talent management and sound hiring practices begins with top management who builds a culture of “shared accountability” among managers and supervisors. HR plays a role in making sure that managers clearly understand the role they are expected to play.

The components of a sound hiring process might look something like this:
• A process for defining what you are looking for – typically a position description, job competencies, and questioning strategies.
• A plan for the interview process – hiring strategy, sourcing, resume screening, the interview team, and identification of the great reasons to work here.
• Attention to the steps in conducting the interview – establishing an appropriate climate, conducting the interview, and responding to challenging interviewee questions.
• A process for making the selection – decision- making guidelines, evaluating the candidates, and communicating with candidates.

The organizational impact of talent management beginning with the hiring process is significant.
• Establishes efficiency in the time to hire qualified candidates.
• Maximizes productivity in finding the right fit the first time.
• Ensures team cohesion by involving team members in a shared process.
• Increases retention of new talent.

Remember, selection decisions are an important part of successful talent management – perhaps the most important part.

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