“Selecting top talent that will perform well and stay with your organization”
Early in my Human Resources career, I attended many hiring workshops that all offered similar advice and conventional wisdom for interviewing and effectively assessing candidates:
“If the candidate does not bring a pen to the interview to fill out an application, do not hire them because they are not organized and prepared”
“If the candidate has not thoroughly researched your business they did not want the job badly enough so don’t hire them”
“If the candidate comes to the interview casually dressed do not hire them because they will be sloppy at work”
“If the candidate has visible tattoos or body piercing do not hire them because you will offend your customers”
“If the candidate is late, don’t even give them an interview”
Once a candidate passed the initial barriers, they were then subjected to numerous behavioural questions that usually started with the phrase “tell me about a time you…..” or the typical questions such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” These questions may have been effective in the past, but todays workers know to expect those questions and come to the interview prepared to answer them. In fact, research demonstrates that ( gasp….) many candidates just make up scenarios to present themselves in a positive light because they are expecting the questions.
Hiring managers who follow conventional wisdom will seriously limit the likelihood of attracting and hiring the best talent. Today, better interviews with top candidates are interactive, candidates are interviewing you are much as you are interviewing them.
The fitness industry tends to attract young workers commonly referred to as millennials where entitlement and informality are the catch phrases that best describe them. Standard questions are likely to screen out the very candidates who you would like to attract.
In order to interview effectively, you need to understand some common characteristics about workers today:
- They are informal. They don't like dress codes
- They don’t like strict or bureaucratic rules, especially if they are rules for the sake of rules
- They don't like stuff - they pretty much don't like anything to do with formality.
- They mean no disrespect, but don't be caught off guard by the flip flops or running shoes or the fact that they are on their iPhone while waiting for you at reception.
- Don't take offense when they admit they haven't a clue about what your company does or that you are one of many companies they've applied to. You may have to refresh their memory. In fact, never ever start an interview off with "tell me why you'd like to work for us". Tell them about your company and why it is great place to work for the right person. Although unemployment is still relatively high, talented workers are always in demand.
- Gone are the days of seniority or "putting in your time", workers want to know if they perform well, they will be rewarded today.
Knowledge about the workforce today coupled with research that many workers will have a dozen jobs before they are thirty requires a more intuitive hiring process.
So how do you interview effectively to attract top talent that will stay with you?
Be prepared and allow enough time for each interview. Set aside enough time to prepare for the interview, conduct the interview and allow questions from the candidate. Ensure you will have no disruptions. This behaviour will demonstrate you value their time and interest in working with you.
Prepare standard questions for all candidates. Use a combination of traditional open ended questions to assess their experience and training. Use situational questions to help envision how they will react to situations in the work environment. Whenever possible, allow on the job previews. This is one of the most effective ways of ensuring organizational fit and has a strong correlation to employee retention.
Talk about the mission and vision: Be sure to tell the candidate, in detail, how they can make a difference, and why this job is important to the company. A pay check isn’t the primary motivator for young workers; they want to know their efforts mean something.
Set clear expectations: Make no assumptions. Discuss the expectations of the role. For example, these multi-taskers, who easily text while working, don’t necessarily know to turn off their cellphones during meetings. Similarly, they may not agree with your body piercing or social media policies. If these expectations are clear at the onset, it prevents challenges down the road and establishes a positive work environment where everyone knows the rules of engagement.
Assess “can do” versus “will do” factors. There is an important difference between what people are qualified for and have the capacity to do versus what they are willing to do. This can be one of the trickiest things to assess. Intangibles such as work ethic, motivation and drive are often unknown until the candidate starts in your organization. This is an important consideration so here are a few ways to address the topic.
Ask the candidate to describe a typical day in their last role and how they felt about the expectations and duties.
How did they feel when they were asked to do things that they did not consider to be part of the job description?
Talk to people who have worked with them in the past.
Solicit input: They want to be heard. Let the candidates know about outlets for sharing their ideas. The best managers listen to their younger employees’ opinions, and let them have input in company decisions. Remember that they should be doing most of the talking
Workers today are opinionated and feel they know what they are worth. For these reasons, speaking their mind in an interview is not seen as improper. The employer is being interviewed as much as the candidate. As a result of high expectations millennials interview as if they have multiple offers on the table already and are selling their services to you.
Appreciate their confidence, but be firm. Let them know exactly what the competition is like for your position and provide a realistic job preview should they get the job. Don’t oversell your organization or you will be back to hiring again before their mom or dad calls you to ask “why their son or daughter haven’t received a raise yet”.
Remember any contact with candidates — phone interviews, in-person meetings, emails — counts as an employment marketing opportunity. If you don’t hire them today, you may in the near future or they may be talking about their experience in the online community with potential staff or members. A few years ago they would tell a few close friends or family, today they can tell thousands of people with a click of a mouse.
Treat everyone you interview as a potential customer or member. Use an interview to give a candidate a positive perception of the organization as an employer and as a business. Young workers today want a defined career path. They know where they want to be in one, three and five years from now. They want details about the career track to take them there. It’s all about the next step and how they are contributing. “What position could I be promoted into next year?” and “ How will I be contributing to the organization and society?”
In summary, todays hiring process needs to gel with the values and expectations of today’s hires. This requires an interactive, free flowing approach to interviewing that enables you to obtain the information you need without the formality.