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Hire, train and retain great employees

Dan Bobinski

Dan Bobinski

Announcing my own stimulus package: A complimentary e-book on how to hire, train, and retain great employees. Many people are looking for work, so how do employers select the best applicant? With zero strings or obligations (I don’t even ask for your e-mail address), go to http://www.workplace-excellence.com/cwe_eb3/ and download the e-book for free. To stimulate your interest, here’s a step-by-step overview.

Step one: Create a list of duties and tasks for the job in question. Gather three to five people who understand the job in question and have each person brainstorm the duties and tasks required of someone doing that job. A duty is a general area of responsibility; a task is a specific action that, when combined with other tasks, fulfills a duty.

Ideally you should strive for between five and 14 duties, with between five and 14 tasks for each duty.

Step two: Benchmark the job. It doesn’t matter if an interviewer has 50 years experience, some applicants can sell themselves into a job for which they are not a good fit. Using a benchmarking tool minimizes that possibility and adds greatly to the objectivity of your hiring process. Many types of benchmarking assessments exist and you can get them from companies that assist with screening and hiring.

These are completed by the people who understand the job duties and provide you a clear picture of what behaviors and motivations are needed to succeed in that job.

Step three: Develop behavior-based interview questions. Refer to your benchmarking results as well as your duty and task list to create interview questions that explore an applicant’s genuine past experience, not their hypothetical future. Such questions usually look like “how did you handle ___”, not “how would you handle ___”.

The reason? Hypothetical questions lead to hypothetical answers, but past behavior is a good predictor of future performance.

Step four: Write an ad with both the applicant and the media in mind. Vague information makes applicants suspicious and they won’t apply, and terse language may deter qualified people. Divide your text into “Must Have” and “Helpful If.” The must-have job skills are those for which you cannot / will not provide training. Use helpful-if to list skills for which you can or will train.

Step five: Conduct and score interviews. Whenever possible, I recommend first interviews be conducted over the phone. During a telephone interview you can gather more information than what’s on the resume plus find out how well an applicant listens. Ask the behavior-based questions you developed earlier and score each response by creating a scoring grid and assigning a score to each answer.

I like a five-point scale in which “5” = Great Answer and “1” = Weak Answer. Scoring grids create a standardized interview process (EEOC is happy) and they add credibility and objectiveness to the screening process.

By the way, know what constitutes a “5” and what constitutes a “1” before interviewing starts. When applicants don’t do well on a phone interview, send out thank-you notes and wish them good luck. When applicants score well, provide them information on the next step in the process.

On face-to-face interviews I recommend involving more than one decision-maker in the process.

Step six: Assess your top-ranking finalists. If you benchmarked the job with an assessment, have finalists complete assessments about themselves and compare their results to your benchmark. Many assessment tools are available (I’m a big fan of DISC as well as several others). So long as the job was benchmarked properly, using assessments in the screening process is perfectly within your right.

Just know that you cannot make a hiring decision based solely on the result of a behavioral assessment, but you’re perfectly fine using such assessment results as a factor in your overall hiring equation.

Step seven: Use the job description as a guide for training and evaluating. One of the most common reasons people quit a job within three months is that the job duties do not align with what the new-hire perceived up front. Using your duty and task list in hiring, as well as the onboarding process, minimizes that hiccup. One easy way to get people engaged quickly is give them a copy of their duty and task list and make them responsible for getting clear explanations for each line item from an assigned mentor or group of seasoned co-workers. Then use that same duty and task list as an annual evaluation tool.

This keeps employees (and you) crystal clear about what’s expected, and performance is much easier to manage.

Dan Bobinski is a certified behavior analyst, best-selling author and director at the Center for Workplace Excellence. He makes his home in Boise. Reach Dan at (208) 375-7606 or dan@workplace-excellence.com.

About Dan Bobinski


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