10 Ways NOT To Hire the Best Person for the Job

By Becky Regan

  1. Ask the applicant questions based on what the person would do in a hypothetical scenario without exploring past behavior in similar situations.
  2. Don’t base the interview questions on an updated job description.
  3. Accept every answer to your question at face value without asking probing questions.
  4. Ask questions about the applicant’s criminal history.
  5. Don’t get a signed release from the applicant to check references and perform background checks.
  6. Ask the applicant if they have adequate daycare arrangements for their children.
  7. Ask the applicant if they have any disabilities that you should know about before hiring them.
  8. Ask if they have ever filed a worker’s compensation claim against an employer.
  9. Ask them if they have ever been involved in a sexual harassment complaint on the job.
  10. Don’t explore values, ethics and beliefs that the applicant holds to determine alignment of organizational “fit.”

In every company, one of the critical responsibilities for every manager and supervisor is to hire the highest caliber of person to fill open jobs. Yet few managers have ever received training that teaches them how to hire the person for the job. Most managers learn on-the-job, without knowing how to approach and prepare for the interview, which questions they can legally ask, or how to get answers on issues that they need to know.

Behavioral interviewing is an approach based upon the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. It’s a pretty simple premise that works because people tend to repeat behavioral patterns. It also allows the interviewer to explore past situations that the applicant has experienced from multiple approaches to determine how they would handle similar situations if they were to work for your company.

To take it to the next level, it’s critical to layer questions and not just accept answers at face value. For example, in questioning an applicant for a customer service representative position the following layered questions might be used in this sequence:

* “Tell me about a time when you weren’t able to meet a customer’s request. Explain the customer’s predicament, what you did, what you couldn’t do, and the outcome.”

* “Why weren’t you able to meet the customer’s request?”

* “How did that make you feel?”

* “What did you do next as a result of that whole experience?”

* “If you didn’t have the restraints in place that prevented you from handling this situation, how would you have handled it differently?”

These questions should reveal a lot of information about the applicant. You’ll know how the applicant handles difficult situations on the job, their level of self-motivation to fix the problem, whether they accept company policies and procedures at face level or “push the envelope,” their frustration level of not being able to resolve the problem, and whether they pursued any changes that might enable them to better handle the problem in the future.

Questions are based on an updated job description that outlines the daily responsibilities and scope of the open job. Questions are based on bona fide occupational qualifications, or factual requirements of the job versus subjective questions initiated without much forethought. Through the advance preparation of using an updated job description to design interview questions to consistently use with every applicant for the job, any legal exposure to discriminatory hiring practices is minimized.

Documentation of the interview process is also important, especially if the company is challenged in the future about the qualifications of the person who filled the position versus any other applicant. It’s critical to take notes during the interview about the applicant’s responses to asked questions, and other tools such as a summary matrix of all applicants can be utilized, if desired. The goal is to develop documents that will support the objectivity of your company’s interview process, and establish a paper trail for future reference should it become necessary.

Preparation is key in the interview process, and demonstrates to applicants that you and your company take the responsibility of hiring the best very seriously. To every applicant, your supervisors and managers are the company, and the professionalism they exhibit throughout the interviewing and hiring process is a direct reflection on the caliber of your company. Their impression of your staff’s professionalism during the hiring process will certainly influence their decision to join your company.

The combination of behavioral interviewing, advance preparation for the interview, objectivity of the hiring process, and effective documentation co-mingle to produce a professional selection and hiring process for your company. Efforts in this arena will result in the placement of high quality personnel in your company, while minimizing any legal exposure in negligent hiring practices.

© 2007 – Regan HR, Inc.

Becky Regan, M.A., CCP began her own consulting practice in 1995, Regan HR, Inc. to provide human resources consulting services to businesses in California. Her work as a consultant includes the full spectrum of HR technical expertise with an expertise in compensation studies. In addition to consulting with clients, in 2008 Becky expanded her practice to include online marketing of her custom HR products and established coaching programs for developing HR professionals. For more HR tips and to receive her FRE*E special report, visit http://www.ReganHR.com