A Structured Interview Process Brings in Top Performers
If you were inclined, you and your team could hold unstructured interviews and follow the process where it led you. You could, for example, simply sit back at the beginning of the session and give the candidate a prompt like “Tell me about yourself.” Then you could simply follow the conversation down a winding path wherever it took you, and you could glean unsolicited data about the candidate along the way. You might learn a bit about their personality, and you might gain insight into their approach to problem-solving or their questionable habit of blurting first and correcting later. You could use this unstructured method to identify red flags or allow your candidate to boast about their past without being prompted.
But here’s the problem: You also might not. Without structure, you simply don’t know what you’ll get out of the process before it starts, and while you may leave the session with volumes of data, you may also leave with no meaningful information at all. So to limit this possibility, maintain a few elements of solid framing, even if you conversation wanders slightly off the path. Here’s how.
Know what you’re looking for.
Long before your session begins, create a list of must-haves for this role. Know the difference between what you want to see (a positive attitude, a cheerful smile) and what you must see in order to make an offer (SQL certification, proposal writing experience). No matter what other topics come up, make sure you ask about each of the items on your list at some point and check them off as you go.
Know what won’t work for you.
Regardless of your personal feelings, your company culture is not ephemeral; it’s real, it changes slowly, and cultural fit is often non-negotiable. Even if your candidate excels at the job, a clear cultural mismatch will drive them away eventually, so find the alignment you need or keep looking. For example, if your teams are collaborative and your culture rewards teamwork and cooperation, don’t hire a competitive, solitary shark. They’ll find Their match elsewhere, and the sooner you spot the disconnect, the better.
Rely on testing.
For some quantitative, measurable skill sets, there’s only one clear way to gauge readiness: testing. Foreign language fluency, math, grammar, and certain software proficiencies can be easily put to the test with a few pointed questions or a structured exam. Don’t miss an opportunity to get out your measuring stick.
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Creating a structured process with assessments and metrics may come at a cost, but in the long run, the benefits will be worth it. Stay fair, clear, standardized, and consistent and you’ll come out ahead. For more on how to choose the right candidates during your hiring process, work with a top recruiter in Scottsdale and contact the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Need Talent? Prioritize This!
You need talent. And you need commitment. But above all, as you launch your candidate search for a critical open position, you need a clear and reliable match between the needs of the position and the candidate’s personality, abilities, and plans. Far too often, staffing managers focus exclusively on job specific skills, or ineffable personality traits (what exactly is a “hard worker”?), and as they pursue this area of single-minded focus, they target candidates who just won’t stay with the company, no matter how talented they may be.
To avoid this problem, open a wide and honest communication channel between the company and the candidate. Don’t be blinded by his or her programming or leadership abilities; keep personality and plans in the picture, no matter how tempting it may be to push them aside. Consider the guidelines below.
Just because they can doesn’t mean they will.
You need a candidate who speaks five specific languages, and lo and behold, you found your needle in the haystack and a brilliant linguist is sitting across from you at the interview table. Your first instinct may be to spin the nature of the job in a way that she might find appealing. You may feel the urge to blur the truth, hide the gritty daily realities, or make her role seem more prestigious than it is. Ignore this temptation. Why? Because if you bring her aboard on misleading pretenses, they’ll leave within a year and you’ll be restarting the search from square one — at great cost and expense. If their core skill set is rare, it’s even more important to stay honest and open from the first interaction to the last.
Signal honesty at every turn.
It’s great if you ARE honest and your statements are all perfectly above board and accurate. But you also need to SEEM honest from the start. Candidate interactions can be brief and fleeting, and just as you may make decisions based on quick impressions, your candidates are doing the same. An unreturned phone call, a long awkward pause before answering a question, or even a fleeting hint of rudeness during the session can send an oversized message.
Deal in good faith.
Of course, your offer and the salary you present will be based on your own needs and your own budget, not the candidate’s. You hope to gain maximum returns on your investment, and you’re paying the employee for their productivity, not for their dismal commute or their steep student loan payments. But at the same time, you’ll be more likely to attract and retain top candidates if you factor these things into the equation and treat the candidate like a human being with needs and requirements of her own. Listen closely to discern what they’re looking for (Flexible hours? A strong mentor?) and do what you can to offer these things. Seek common ground during the negation process; don’t just focus on your own interests.
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Don’t Overlook Your Female Leaders
No responsible manager overlooks a female candidate for overtly sexist reasons. In a well-run company, you’re unlikely to find a manager who confesses to passing over a qualified candidate for a promotion simply because the candidate identifies as female. These kinds of unabashed sexist decisions and actions are holdovers from another era, and even if motivations are rooted in subtle sexist assumptions, most managerial training programs, and HR directives are designed to root out ingrained forms of bias that can undermine the workforce and harm the company. But despite surface-level societal changes, these forms of bias can be stubborn, and women are still not promoted at a rate that reflects their contributions to the workforce.
So in order to advance your own success and that of your organization, shine a light into your own deeply held, unexamined beliefs the next time you’re called upon to make a promotion decision. Keep these thoughts in mind.
If not, why not?
If you’re not inclined to promote a female candidate, ask yourself hard questions, and don’t seek escape in easy answers. Your first thought may be something like “Well, she just doesn’t have the numbers,” or “She doesn’t strike me as a leader.” Double check these numbers, and if you’re wrong, have the courage to admit it and change course. If she doesn’t strike you as a leader, ask yourself why not. Maybe you aren’t actually watching her or taking her actions and decisions at face value. Assume your decisions are motivated by ingrained bias and see if your perspective shifts.
“Her voice is too high.”
Write down your criticisms. Generate a list of statements that you assume preclude your candidate from a leadership role. Then go down the list and cross off every metric or assessment that you wouldn’t or haven’t applied to your male candidates. Chances are, her mistakes are similar to — not greater than — those of her male counterparts. And her voice, mannerisms, clothing, gestures, or shoe style are holding far more influence over your decision than they should.
Factor in every detail.
Recognize that fairness doesn’t come naturally to most of us; our fairest assessments of others are still influenced by unrecognized racial, gender, and other biases that we can’t root out of ourselves via a simple act of will. If you recognize a natural deficit within yourself (we all have them), and recalibrate to compensate for it, where does that leave you? And where does it leave your female candidate? You aren’t doing her a favor by making this internal adjustment; she’s earned the right to a fair and honest evaluation. And you owe it to your company to appropriately leverage her talents and leadership skills. If you overlook or disregard them, she’s likely to redirect her energies and search for opportunity elsewhere.
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Not Giving Feedback to Female Employees Can Hurt Their Careers
According to a joint study by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, members of both genders ask for workplace feedback at equal rates, but managers are 20 percent less likely to provide “difficult” feedback to women than to men.
There may be several possible reasons behind a decision to withhold feedback from female employees, from a fear of seeming gender-biased to concerns about being disliked by the employee; Managers cited both reasons as concerns and some also reported a fear of seeming too harsh.
But as it happens, withholding criticism and withholding constructive feedback aren’t the same, and they don’t lead to similar results. Women who don’t receive honest feedback and coaching from their managers often report being left out and left behind and may miss out on opportunities for growth.
What does this mean for managers who — consciously or unconsciously — provide limited corrective or insightful comments to their female employees? If you feel you may fall into this category (regardless of your gender), keep these thoughts in mind.
Criticism isn’t coaching
Simply nitpicking female employees, criticizing them unfairly, or holding them to higher standards than their male peers won’t do the trick. Misogyny and bias often appear in the form of unwarranted criticism, so piling on more negativity won’t win the day. Instead, after an employee mistake or a performance that could use a few improvements, think about your words. Ask yourself three questions before you speak them: Will my words help her improve? Am I hesitating to share feedback because I fear her reaction? Is my criticism justified and fair? If you answer yes to all three, gather your courage and speak your mind.
If you hesitate to provide feedback because you believe your employee might have an emotional meltdown or run crying for the ladies’ room, stop and think. Is this imaginary scenario realistic? Or is it just the product of your own gender-related assumptions? Since it’s probably the second, take this opportunity to correct some faulty wiring and cultural biases within yourself, not your employee. Recognize that despite your assumptions, she probably won’t react this way at all, then deliver your feedback with dignity and confidence.
If you genuinely fear that your criticisms will be poorly received, be honest and open with your employee about this fact. You can simply say “I hesitate to give you negative feedback because I want you to like me, but some things are more important than being liked.” You can also say: “I’m afraid of hurting your feelings, but I believe my feedback can support your growth.”
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If you are looking for the best employees for your team, contact the ACCENT Hiring Group today and work with a top management recruiter in Scottsdale.