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<i>Dear Workforce</i> What Can We Do to Make Our Managers Better at Hiring?

October 18, 2010
Dear Closing the Skills Gap:
Improving hiring skills is becoming the priority for public and private organizations as the economy recovers and more baby boomers enter retirement. I believe "hiring skills" is the organizational competency most likely to create growth and long-term success going forward. The need to identify the right talent for the right position is, and will continue to be, the most critical objective for human resources departments and hiring managers. So your concern and focus couldn't be better.
Unfortunately, most organizations' HR departments offer a traditional approach to hiring and are not adequately matching advanced tools and strategies to the needs of the hiring manager. The key is to train hiring managers to be empowered to use the latest proven tools, processes and strategies. That way, HR becomes more of a strategic partner rather than a bureaucrat (from the perspective of the internal client) while the goal—consistently hiring superior performers—is more easily met.
Job benchmarking is the first step to securing the talent necessary to the organization's success. The first question is: What talents are required for superior performance in the specific job?
Only the job has the answer, so use a system that lets the job "talk," and then listen carefully. (I use a patented job-benchmarking process with all of my clients, developed by TTI Performance Systems, that enables an organization to benchmark the job. The client can then assess the talent of the candidate to find the best match to the job's talent requirements.)
The essential elements of conducting a job benchmark using internal stakeholders and subject-matter experts is to first identify the key accountabilities for the position and then use a "valid and reliable" job survey to capture individual opinions based on those key accountabilities. By combining the results of up to 10 job benchmark surveys (three is adequate) into a single composite survey, the HR department and hiring manager have a "talent profile" or target for matching purposes. The job benchmark should offer job-related interview questions that promote dialogue around the applicant's talents. The value of the job benchmark goes well beyond the hiring process, which makes for a high return on investment.
With a job benchmark in place, marketing the position and evaluating applicants for fit becomes much easier. The question now is: How does a hiring manager quickly and accurately separate the top talent from the applicant pool?
After filtering applicant résumés based on minimum requirements, and perhaps conducting a short phone interview to verify certain information (such as relocation and salary expectations), use a talent assessment for this next step. Not all assessments are equal. Assessments can measure very different parts of a person's talent. Many of these assessments become very suspect when trying to verify the assessment's validity and reliability, especially for hiring. Hiring managers should be able to easily learn how to understand and use the assessment to properly narrow the candidate pool, and use the assessment results to formulate questions to use during the interviewing process.
Interviewing candidates is time-consuming and has the greatest potential for creating biases. That is why I encourage and train hiring managers to use scientifically proven (valid and reliable) assessments that measure the "talent" of the person to help determine "who" will be interviewed.
Hiring managers want to be in control of whom they hire. Keep that in mind as you provide them with tools and strategies. This outline ensures the hiring manager is in control and uses an HR department in a more strategic way. Training the hiring manager comprehensively to be an expert in interviewing, hiring and using talent assessments can be done in 12 hours. That includes covering job benchmarking, using assessments for applicant evaluation, behavior-based interviewing skills and the legal dos and don'ts of interviewing. Breaking the training into three- or four-hour segments is a good idea.
With a carefully designed training program for managers, job benchmarking and talent assessment tools, and a process that enables the manager to stay in control throughout the process, you'll have very satisfied managers and will realize that hiring superior performers is not as difficult to achieve as you first thought.
SOURCE: Carl Nielson, The Nielson Group, Dallas
LEARN MORE: Recruiters are investing more time and boosting transparency to pull hiring managers' expectations in line with the realities of recruiting in labor markets marked by high unemployment.
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The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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