How Do You Select the Right Person?
Karen: At the end of last year, the unemployment rate in Australia fell to 3.4%, which was actually the lowest level since 1974. We’ve got really low unemployment and we have skill shortages. There can be a tendency to get a little bit desperate and make a bad hire, it can feel like there are no options. So what tips do you have for employers to be more effective when they’re selecting the right person?
Nathan: There are two things that are important here. The first thing is a lot of industries could really benefit from practical testing. If you’re in a very, super technical role in a specific industry, for example, mortgage broking, I find it strange that people will just guess. They think, ‘He has, on paper, what’s required to be able to do the role’.
But there’s no harm in doing a workshop or having a scenario to run through with the candidate. You can see, ‘okay, yep, they can solve the problem, they know how to use the right tools and the right calculators’. You also get to see how they think, how they problem-solve, how they go about working on the problem to find the solution. That’s a really big thing.
If you think across different industries, you can apply this to most roles. We often give scenarios and examples to our clients to do with candidates, and you learn a lot. For example, you might realise, ‘Wow, the way that they worked through that was exactly how we do it, we’re very like-minded with our approach’.
Not many businesses do this but it’s easy to do. For example, from a sales perspective, you might do a sales roleplay. You can ask all the interview questions you want, but if you put someone in a scenario and say, ‘Here’s a basic script, we’re selling this product. How would you go about asking open questions? What type of discovery questions would you use? How would you handle this type of objection?’
Do it as sort of a scenario or role play. Give them time to practice it, obviously. But there’s a huge benefit because sometimes you might think, ‘Oh, I’m not sure. Would they be okay?’ Why not try it? Why not do some practical assessments? If you’re not sure, there are a lot of scenarios you can do to take the guesswork out of it.
It’s often highlighted by clients that their top priority is a really good cultural fit. But at a half-hour or hour-long interview, when you’re firing questions at someone in a really formal setting, it’s uncomfortable. People are nervous, you’re really not going to get to know anything about that person. So try these things:
- Talk to them, make it less scripted.
- Talk about the company values.
- Get to know their personal values and their situation.
- Don’t be scared to find out about things outside of work, their hobbies and interests.
These types of things will help gauge the cultural fit and cultural alignment with other people in the workforce.
Karen: There is discrimination legislation that can apply during recruitment, and people are rightly afraid of putting a foot wrong, and so don’t ask questions that might go into more personal areas. But you could ask, ‘Hey, can you tell me what are the top things that you like to do outside of work?’ That gives you an extra sense of that person, you can share your own experiences and start to build rapport.
I love the idea of practical testing. In the olden days, we used to call it the ‘inbox test’. It’s good for the candidate as well, because they get to see ‘a day in the life’. It could take an hour or half a day, it depends on the job; or sometimes people will do a whole day of paid training. But that’s much better and cheaper than hiring the person and finding out three or four months down the track that they’re not a good fit.
Nathan: Absolutely. We do that internally when we hire. We do our normal interview process and get to know each other. But then we give people the opportunity to come in and see what it’s all about. Come see why people work here. Come see what the culture is like. And come see what a day looks like, what you’ll actually be doing.
Often we hear that someone gets into a role, and it is really different to what they expected. Especially in this day and age, a lot of people are taking jobs that require them to be in the office two or three days a week, but they’re taking the role purely over Zoom. They don’t know what the culture is like. I’d say put a few hours aside, get them in, buddy them up with someone and let them get a feel for the culture. That will really help.