In the June 6, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a manager offers 8 stunningly clear tips about how to hire so effectively that other managers in your company steal your hires.
A hiring manager who prefers to remain anonymous teaches us how to hire. This should be required reading in every company. There’s nothing for me to add except Thank you.
A manager’s short course on how to hire
Most of my colleagues do not know how to interview anyone. They rely on rules of thumb, guts, or chicken entrails.
Actually, they have their direct reports interview the candidate and then vote on the candidate. I have a different way to hire and I think it works.
1. Recruit all the time
Always be in interview mode. Talk to prospective candidates even if you don’t have a place for them. (See The manager’s #1 job.)
2. Don’t hire by consensus
Do not allow your team to vote on candidates. The hiring manager hires. People are tribal and will pick people like themselves. Do not have a team where everyone is the same.
3. Start with all the resumes
Tell HR to send you all the resumes. Don’t let anyone edit your selection because they’re not as qualified as you are to judge the applicants. If you know what you want, you can go through them much faster than an HR clerk. (See also Sorting Resumes: A strategic hiring error and Why HR should get out of the hiring business.)
4. Hire the dancers
Don’t hire anyone for whom the job is a lateral move. That’s what contractors are for. You want people for whom the job will make a difference in their lives. You want your new hires to dance to work.
5. Interview wisely
Interview only 5 candidates to prevent interview fatigue. Schedule interviews over a 3-4 week period and make a decision within 24 hours of the final interview. (Use the phone only to confirm availability. Phone interviews are nearly worthless.)
6. Can they do the job?
Ask candidates to audition for the job. Give them a simple assignment before the interview. (See What is the single best interview question ever?)
7. Act responsibly
Write to every candidate after the interview and give them your results. It is common decency. Besides, you may want to hire the second best candidate in a few months.
8. Get better at hiring
Last, review your process and look for improvements.
The problem with hiring this way is that the people you hire are so good that other departments will poach them. But that’s really okay, because you want to bring motivated people into your organization. Be proud of the impact your hires make.
Like I said, this is so good that there’s nothing for me to add. What I think would be incredibly productive is to hear from this community — from hiring managers, job seekers and HR folks — about how you would flesh these 8 suggestions out.
How exactly would you put these tips to work? How would you tweak, bend and shape these ideas about how to hire, to make them work best in your work environment? If you’re a manager, maybe you already do some of these things. If you disagree with some of them, please explain and offer your own tips.
I’d like to thank the manager who essentially wrote this week’s column for me. For another manager’s hiring methods, see Smart Hiring: A manager who respects applicants.
Number of interviews
After this column was published, a good question was raised by readers (in the comments section below) about whether the manager (whose advice this column is based on) really means you should interview only 5 candidates in total, and how long the entire process should really take. So I asked him. Here’s his reply.
Scheduling a series of interviews with the internal stakeholders is not easy. You don’t want a candidate to return to the office multiple times to interview. Placing a line in the sand is for the benefit of the internal stakeholders telling them you will finish this task in 3 weeks. I have had SVP’s insist on interviewing a potential hire and then have their schedule full of meetings for the next 2 weeks. I have also had other managers want to interview a candidate to determine if they are good fit for their team.
I stop at 5 candidates because of interview fatigue. The candidates start to blur over time and they become difficult to compare. The interviews are at least ½ day and the cost to the team in lost work starts to show. If you try to interview 5 candidates in a week your team will not be able to get any work finished.
Also, at least 2 candidates will be from professional conferences or prior interviews. They are already known to the team and just have to run the HR gauntlet.
The hiring manager also explains how he handles the salary question during interviews.
I never ask the candidates current salary because I feel it is irrelevant. I know the market clearing price and most of the time the candidate knows it. The ones who don’t know it are HR and that’s where the struggle begins and ends. That’s why it will sometimes take weeks to schedule an interview. You don’t want to bring anyone in until HR agrees with you on the salary range.
I had one hire who told me that his new salary was 100% higher than his previous salary. That was a person who danced to work every day.