Tag Archives: Interviewing skills

Bad Hires Are Expensive

Bad hires are expensive

How do you know if the candidate will work out or not?

Bad hires are expensive based on an interesting survey performed by CareerBuilder revealed that 41 percent of companies estimate that a bad hire costs more than $25,000; 25 percent of companies said a bad hire costs more than $50,000. And the higher the position, the higher those numbers become. Besides such costs, which are extraordinarily high—and which can be avoided—there are other contributing elements: ones measured not in dollars but in lost productivity, impact on team morale, and total time wasted in recruiting, onboarding, and training the new employee. Certainly there are several other negative factors as well. Many would agree that an improved hiring process could minimize if not eliminate altogether such avoidable expenses.

So, where does the problem lie?

There are two troubling and basic issues that lead to such a bad outcome. The first is the fact that companies don’t attract qualified and very successful employees because the companies’ job descriptions are off-kilter; the descriptions are simply not spot-on descriptions. Some job descriptions are so oversimplified and empty that an employed and successful person is not attracted to them because such a person certainly isn’t going to change from a good job to an unknown, spottily described one. Other descriptions sound so demanding, complex, intricate, elaborate, detailed, and wordy (like this sentence!) that again, happy and successful employees are not going to venture a change, because they know they are not God-like, that they wouldn’t fit, that they don’t have all the extensively laid-out required qualifications, and that therefore they wouldn’t be able to do the job. Now, what are left among those who apply are people who might be in transition and have nothing to lose by applying. Let me hasten to add that I’m not implying that people in transition are lesser.

The second issue is with the hiring process.

What’s broken here is not enough preparation done up front, even before the interviewing takes place. The process is typically shoddy, superficial, and like puzzle pieces that do not fit; but still, it gets forced together fast because the replacement was needed yesterday.

The solution is easy: A team of people who are going to interact with the new hire ought to get together and decide on what type of employee they’re looking for. They must be clear about the traits and skills that are important for the hired candidate to have in order to be successful on the job. Once an agreement is reached on those issues, the interviewing process can start. Once all of the chosen candidates have been interviewed, the hiring team needs to get together again and thoroughly discuss each candidate. It is anticipated that if the hiring team performs its job in earnest, the best candidate will be selected. I submit that 90 days after hire, the team should get together a third time—this time to evaluate the performance of the newly hired person versus what was expected after their consensus meeting on the candidate they wanted for hire. The consensus meeting and the 90-day evaluation meeting put the team in a position to learn more about its own process and make improvements if necessary. Short of that, bad hiring practices will perpetuate, and the cost of hire will remain high.

How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills

Practicing interviewing skills

Practicing interviewing skills

Interviewing Skills

Interviewing skills is a business transaction wherein the objective of the hiring manager (the person who has the authority to hire) is to make a selection among job candidates called in for interviews. A candidate has two challenges: first, to convince the hiring manager that he is the ideal candidate for the position, and second, to outshine the others (i.e., the competition for the job). Following are several suggestions.

First, prepare for the interview by working with a seasoned career coach. A career coach can practice with you certain mock-interviewing techniques, thereby helping you to not only answer difficult interview questions but also recognize traps and avoid saying the wrong things. As a career coach, I need no less than five hours to get someone ready for the big test. If the result is to get the job, then the fee paid for such a service is merely a drop in the bucket.

Second, prepare your SARBs: situation/action/result/benefit. These are short vignettes about your experience, describing for the interviewer how you solved problems on the job and the results and benefits to employers. They are the tools you bring with you to the interview. If presented well, the examples will convince the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job.

Third, research the company. Spend some time in the public library investigating as much as you can about the company. You cannot overdo this aspect of the job search, and neither should you underestimate the importance of showing the interviewer you understand–on either a macro- or microlevel–the issues the company faces.

Fourth, use your personal connections via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to discover as much information as you can about the people you’re going to interview with. While doing that, attempt to find something in common with them. This is very important, because people are known to hire candidates with whom they can build a relationship even during the interview process.

And fifth and last but not less important, make sure the position you’re interviewing for aligns with your own needs and desires. Consider your skills and attributes and traits. Evaluate the organization’s work environment, the commute, the compensation, and the benefits. Pay attention to your gut feeling. If it feels good, make sure you clearly show your enthusiasm. This is what the hiring manager wants to “buy.”


The Interview: Why Wasn’t I Chosen!

The interview

The interview is about availability and choice

The Interview

From the interviewer’s vantage point, the selection process is about availability and choices. That principle applies to many things the rest of us do, too, throughout the day. For instance, isn’t it interesting that when a group of people dine together in a restaurant, some of them make their menu decisions within a few seconds, yet for others it takes an embarrassingly long time—and they’re still not perfectly happy with their decisions. The same principle applies to interviewers: I remember being interviewed years ago for 20 minutes and receiving the job offer on the spot; that was unusual at the corporate director level. At the other extreme, I heard of a person who was interviewed for a secretarial position by seven people over two months’ time—after the candidate had already worked in that department for three months as a temporary employee.

Predicting the outcome of the interview

To sum up, it is impossible to predict the outcome of a job interview because we simply don’t know what the interviewer’s decision-making process is. How often has a job candidate walked away glowing from an interview, with that feeling of having aced it, and yet the job offer never came.

At times candidates speculate about the best time of day to schedule a job interview—if given a choice. Early morning—before the pressure of the day builds up—might be good, but the interviewer might not be fully awake yet. Maybe just before lunch. But then, maybe after lunch would be better. How ’bout near the end of the day? There are no clear-cut answers because each case is individual and unique.

The interview outcome is relative to others

A recent National Public Radio program interviewed Wharton and Harvard business school professors who discussed the results of a large, 9,000-subject, 10-year study of interviewing. The investigators concluded that what matters is the candidate’s performance relative to those interviewed earlier. In their analysis, they also talked about a phenomenon called the gambler’s fallacy—a theory that says there is a mistaken notion that assumes that the odds of something with a fixed probability increase or decrease depending on recent occurrences. In other words, if you interview after two or three inferior candidates, your chances are better. This also works in reverse.

From my vantage point as an interview coach, I know that the only way to beat the odds is to prepare well and practice mock interviewing. Practice makes perfect.