by Carolyn B. Thompson
|Carolyn B. Thompson
Training Systems, Inc.
12 Landscape Lane
Camdenton MO 65020
by: Carolyn B. Thompson
Put the applicant's future co-workers or team members in charge of hiring the people with whom they can work best and they'll create a realistic picture of skills required for the position. You'll also bypass the 1st days of "newcomer to the team" syndrome.
Mistakes in hiring result in higher recruitment costs, unqualified employees, accusations of discrimination in hiring and wrongful discharge suits, not to mention poor moral, lower productivity and costly mistakes. If you added up the time and money you're company has spent on all the ramifications of an incorrect hire you'd change your assessment methods immediately. But, you say, we already have the applicant interviewed thoroughly by HR and 2 managers and we try to check references but you know you rarely get more than name, rank and serial number! Applicants have become increasingly adept at giving the right answers or showing their best side in an interview and who are the managers who are interviewing - how much do they really know about doing the job and how much will they be working with the applicant should they be hired?
There is a better way - and numerous organizations of all sizes and from all industries have tried it - have the potential employee's co-workers or team members assess their ability to do the job which includes working together with them! When given the opportunity to do this at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, WA, employees and the HR department worked together to create an assessment of applicants' true abilities to do the job - not just what they said in an interview.
They set up a process that included an in-depth panel interview with all people the applicant would be working closely with, paperwork, phone and other time management exercises appropriate to the position being hired, mock staff meetings if such were applicable and other work simulations as they related to the tasks of the job. During the assessment process the organization asks applicants to perform certain parts of the job while observing their ability to make decisions, handle conflict, set priorities and communicate as well as the technical aspects of the particular job.
BE CAREFUL - Very thorough job analysis/job descriptions must exist in order to make the simulations as realistic as possible for the best prediction of on the job performance. You also need to choose tasks for which the candidate is physically capable or be prepared for trouble! The co-workers who will be assessing must be trained in observation and evaluation techniques (most of us currently have managers doing these assessments without training so this will be a step toward better assessments in and of itself!) The simulations need to be set up to give the best prediction of actual performance and can include role plays, paperwork, sample technical tasks, computer based simulation and many others. Depending on the positions you're hiring for some of these simulations can be bought and you can then customize them to your company, others may need to be created by you or with help from an outside expert, someone who designs work simulations (trainers, training designers, work evaluators, job analysis may all be successful at this - ask for references and look at samples of their simulations).
An added benefit of this type of interviewing/assessment is that although more people involved makes it more difficult to come to consensus on who the best person is for the job, once they decide great support is gained from the team since people support what they create. The training required for more than just managers to interview and assess requires time and energy but the employees gain valuable insights into characteristics of skills that were once reserved only for managers. A side benefit is the increase in employees observation, evaluation and decision making skills - all necessary for other parts of their job.
Using several co-workers or team members to assess applicants provides a more comprehensive base of information about the applicant's ability to perform the job on a day to day basis. Simulation exercises further cut down on hiring mistakes because the applicant gets a better picture of what the job is all about and the organization gets to see if the applicant can do the job not just hear that they can!
Carolyn B. Thompson is the President of Training Systems, Inc., a customized training and HR consulting company that helps small and medium sized organizations enhance their ability to recruit, inspire and retain quality employees and improve performance through training. Training Systems, Inc. also provides training design and delivery services to training companies and the training departments of large companies, and professional and trade associations. Carolyn B. Thompson is an experienced trainer and consultant knowledgeable in the challenging area of employee recruitment, inspiration and retention. She is an exciting, inspirational trainer who leads people to learn. She has written articles for prominent magazines, has been interviewed for Chicago's TV Channel 26, the "You're Hired" radio show, Safety & Health, Small Business Computing, Business Week, Working Woman, Redbook and Inc. magazines, been the subject of articles in the Daily Southtown and Star newspapers, as well as written chapters in several books. Most recently, Carolyn produced a two-tape audio cassette set entitled "Straight Talk for Employers" , has written a book entitled "Creating Highly Interactive Training Quickly and Effectively" and is writing a book about on-the-job training for Crisp Publications.
(c) Training Systems, Inc. 1999