Developing a ‘Best-in-Class” Hiring Website

If you plan on using a website as a hiring vehicle that can minimize turnover, maximize individual productivity, reduce training expense, and maintain maximum competitive flexibility, this article is for you. Like all emerging technologies, some organizations are slow to realize the full power of websites. Many see them as a public “interface” or place to sell product, but few know how to use them effectively to screen new talent. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll outline a few “best-in-class” techniques that will maximize hiring effectiveness. Of course, you don’t have to incorporate any of these ideas, but as a famous philosopher once remarked, “You don’t have to put your face in a blender to see if it will hurt $mdash; someone else has done that research for you.” 1. Simplify Choices. Unless you are the hiring manager, it is a colossal waste of time to develop detailed specs for each job title. There are too many details for an applicant to understand and jobs change frequently. It is a better idea to take all your jobs and cluster them into smaller groups called “families” that have similar functions. If you strip away detailed technical knowledge, you will discover that jobs are really not as complicated as people believe. Overall, there are at most 12 to 15 job families in any organization. Rather than overwhelm the applicant with all the possible job titles in your organization, just present the major families. You can get more specific during the interview. 2. Go To The Movies. Movie producers know how to attract audiences to their new productions $mdash; they show previews. Your site should also show what the job is like. Again, the details are not as important as telling something about the environment and describing the general competencies and expectations of the job family. The key here is to emphasize “realistic.” Again, think about the movies. Don’t oversell $mdash; it inevitably leads to disappointment. There is a real tendency for managers to react with shock when asked to tell applicants what the job is really like. Of course, the alternative is to lie and invest vast amounts of money in people who will become dissatisfied and probably quit. Realistic job previews significantly reduce turnover. 3. Keep the Application Simple and to the Point. At the “just shopping” stage, candidates are seldom emotionally committed to employment at your organization. This leaves you in a dilemma $mdash; you want all the information you can get about the person while the person wants to give you as little information about him or herself as possible. A compromise is to settle here for a short application blank that is based on either weighted competencies or biographical data associated with good producers. The secret is to discover beforehand what is key data and what is application dreck. Heck, you might even offer to send applicants a free toaster or a gerbil! 4. You Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine. You eventually have to collect four different kinds of data from your applicant. They include attitude, interest, and motivation measures; mental ability; organizational ability; and interpersonal skills. Leave any one of these areas uncovered and you increase the odds of high turnover and low productivity. As I have mentioned in other articles, you need to forget about using general personality tests or building test norms based on group averages. These are just about the most worthless tools on the hiring circuit. Research shows seven factors are associated with work interests and three are associated with work attitudes. Someone else did the research for you $mdash; use it. Mental ability is the single most associated ability with job performance. (Have you ever heard a manager bragging about how many “dull” people work for the company?) If you don’t use some measure on mental ability in your website, you will have overlooked a major performance factor. Technical tests are measures of mental ability $mdash; providing that the applicant has not become “test-smart” $mdash; but few on-the-job problems come with a multiple choice answer set. You need a more comprehensive measure of “smarts,” one that resembles the problems faced on the job. Closely associated with mental ability is the ability to plan and organize work. If you have ever worked with someone who is “planning impaired” you will know what I mean. Few organizations ever measure planning ability, but it is one of the critical factors that can give you employee heartburn. Unless your employees have no human contact, interpersonal skills on the job range from “good to have” to “critically important.” Once when I was searching for a software engineer, I met with a prospective techie who griped constantly and never even looked me in the eyes. Do you think I hired his company? Even technical managers, who obsess on technical skills, grudgingly admit that interpersonal skills can be important to high productivity. 5. Make Sure Your Measurement Tools Are Rock-Solid. As you can imagine, different hiring tools are used for each performance area. And, here is where it all comes together. Realistic job previews should be in some form of streaming media. Application blanks need to be pruned for key information. AIMs are best measured with test inventories. Mental ability and organizational ability are best measured using tests or case studies. And interpersonal skills are best measured in one on one simulations. Regardless of the tools you use, be sure they are validated. This simply means that each component in the selection stream has a strong (and documented) link with on the job performance. Don’t be lulled into using tests that measure “types” or “styles” $mdash; they seldom work. Remember you are supposed to be the expert, and if you live in the States, will probably be the one who will have to explain why you did not follow the Uniform Guidelines. 6. Move Slowly. Of course, few people will want to complete all the steps in one sitting. That’s why the process requires staging. For example, the preview, AIM test and short application blank can be completed at any web location. The tests and simulations can be completed on a computer located in the office (where you can be assured of honesty and applicant integrity). Whether you use one or all the tools described above, the web can standardize, help facilitate hiring qualified people and provide valuable reporting data about applicant progress. Hiring good people is like flossing your teeth; you don’t need to floss every tooth $mdash; only the ones you want to keep. Likewise you don’t have to measure all these areas, only the ones you want to be certain about. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

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