Interviewing the Candidates
by Dinah Daniels
The scenario is familiar to human resources professionals and hiring managers. A job opening occurs within the organization, and a file drawer full of resumes is pulled open to start the arduous task of finding the “right” candidate.
If the company is on its toes, a written “job description” may exist, giving the human resources department a roadmap to the educational background, job experience, skills and qualifications that the ideal candidate should possess.
However, if HR proceeds with interviewing candidates before performing one critical internal assessment, a potential hire who looks great on paper may, in fact, be the wrong person for the job.
First, the HR department should “interview” the job before interviewing the job candidates and define a “job profile.” This profile should include information about key result areas, critical connections within the company, behaviors, values and education and experience required to perform the job.
Creating a job profile gives an organization far more useful information than a written job description gives. While a job description states the functions of a specific job and the education, background and skills required to perform it, a job profile illustrates how the job fits into the context of the company. It profiles whom the person holding the job will deal with as key connecting people within the organization. It looks at values and how the job impacts the entire organization as well as specific, measurable outcomes of job performance.
With the creation of a job profile for a given position, a company connects that position to the entire organization in a meaningful way. It requires human resources professionals and line managers or department supervisors to work together and establish a consistent understanding of how a job should be filled and the type of person who should fill it.
Traditionally, the interview and selection process is viewed as a chore that happens in isolation from everything else in a company. But with the creation of a job profile, utilizing input from everyone who is affected within an organization, the decision makers are able to take a fuller view.
The second critical step in the interviewing and selection process is building a candidate profile. Based on the job profile, the candidate profile will give the hiring managers a clear picture of the person they want for the job before they meet a single candidate.
The candidate profile is critical because there is more to matching people to jobs than simply finding the right education, job experience and skill set. Two candidates may possess the same college degree, similar levels of professional experience and work skills that match the job. But if the job requires an assertive decision maker, someone who embraces risk and thrives in a fast-paced environment, suddenly the two candidates may not appear so equal. One may function well in an environment that is more deliberative and predictable, making him inappropriate for the opening. The other may possess the quick-thinking, authoritative characteristics needed, but may also show signs of being somewhat reckless.
No candidate is a perfect fit for any job. There are always gaps between the requirements of a job and the capabilities of even the best person hired to fill it. But an enlightened company will not wait until that person is on board to discover – and be caught unaware – by those gaps.
A successful interviewing process will have several key results. It will:
Even in a tight labor market, a company is setting someone up for failure
by hiring him when it knows of serious gaps between the candidate’s personality
or skills and what the job requires. An enlightened company may go ahead and
hire this person, but with a clear idea of the options for filling his or
Most importantly, hiring professionals need to avoid the temptation to compare one candidate to another. What they really need to do is compare each candidate against the job.
By creating both a job profile and then a candidate profile, hiring managers
dramatically increase their chances of long-term hiring success – before ever
meeting a single job candidate.
Dinah Daniels is President and Chairman of PI Worldwide, an international management consulting organization headquartered in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. Using a proven, proprietary management tool known as the Predictive Index®, as well as a flexible suite of skills-based workshops (the Predictive Leadership Series), PI Worldwide helps companies align individual performance with their specific business goals for improved bottom-line performance, productivity and profitability. Contact Dinah by e-mail: DDaniels@PIworldwide.com and visit www.PIworldwide.com .