Finding and attracting the best talent is key to building a successful business.
In this session, we’ll dig into the basics of what you need to do before starting the hiring process, the best ways to attract talent, and things to be aware of during an interview. We’ll also cover specific interview questions to ask and to avoid.
Walk away with ideas to identify and hire the right people for your organization so you can be an employer of choice in your industry.
This session was recorded on, June 17, 2021.
Marissa Stribling (00:00:07):
Welcome, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me today. I’m excited to welcome you to our training, Recruiting and Hiring Great Employees. Before I jump in, I would love to introduce myself. My name is Marissa. I joined the team here after working in a variety of HR areas including payroll and staffing and on and off boarding. I’ve worked at both national and local companies and in a very wide range of businesses and industries. I earned my BS in business administration and communications from the University of Oregon. I love watching sports and volunteering and spending time with my three dogs and my husband.
Marissa Stribling (00:00:45):
Let’s go ahead and get started. Some quick housekeeping items. We’re going to email you the recording of this presentation and the slides within about 24 hours. I’ll hold a couple of polls throughout the presentation. I hope you’ll participate in them. Please stay tuned for that. Finally, please use the Q&A box for questions and I’ll answer as many as I can during the Q&A session at the end. All right, before I even turn to the agenda, I want to break down what we mean when we say recruiting and hiring.
Marissa Stribling (00:01:21):
This can include a really wide variety of things, from talking to a recruiter who will be doing a nationwide search for you, to contacting a staffing agency, to updating and posting a job description in one place or 20 places, screening applications, interviews. I could go on and on. Ultimately, recruiting is going to look somewhat different depending on a variety of factors, including industry, the size of your organization, the talent pool you’re pulling from, how many positions you’re hiring for, the training you provide, and the level of employee. Also, hiring for a position will look really different than hiring for a seasonal ski resort employee in terms of getting placed versus actually hiring.
Marissa Stribling (00:02:03):
The word hiring also means different things to different people. In this session, I’ll be talking about the selection and I need to go hire someone piece. Not going to be able to get into onboarding or what to do after the offer of employment has been extended, that’s a whole different training. A final note before we jump in further is that I really think of recruiting and hiring as a soft science. For the most part, we’re not talking about compliance, but about business practices and what works best and recommendations that we can make.
Marissa Stribling (00:02:35):
What I want to do today is chat about the basics of the recruiting and hiring process and leave you with some tips for how you can think about implementing or changing your process for a more successful experience. I’ve worked in a staffing agency, I’ve also worked in the medical industry, so I’ve really seen a wide range of what recruiting and hiring can look like, and I hope to provide you some really helpful tips and information today. Sadly, like I said, I just can’t cover everything today, so let’s take a look at what is in store. First we’ll talk about how to prepare for the undertaking of searching for a new employee, that pre-recruiting piece.
Marissa Stribling (00:03:12):
We’ll then move on to recruiting itself. What can this entail? Who are we looking for? What are the best practices to begin the process to find applicants? We’ll discuss attracting talent, applicant tracking and best practices for that. We’ll discuss screening applicants as well as interview prep, and then we’ll focus on the actual interview itself. Then finally, we’ll touch on following up and some best practices there. I’ll leave a few minutes at the end, like I mentioned, for any questions you might have. Now before we really dive into today’s presentation, in my experience working with clients, recruiting is often overlooked.
Marissa Stribling (00:03:48):
I receive questions so often about a newly hired employee who’s just not performing well. Typically, it’s someone within their first few weeks or month of employment, and the client would like to discuss discipline or even termination for that individual. There are a lot of possible reasons for the underperformance, but every time I have this discussion, I always end up making a really impassioned appeal to the client to review their hiring practices. How did we get here? Could they have hired a little better? Did they set clear job expectations during the interview and in the job description?
Marissa Stribling (00:04:21):
Were they fully aware of the employee’s skill set? Now, all that to say nobody gets hiring right every time. I have certainly had my fair share of bad hires. But I truly believe dedicating the time to recruit and hire properly will absolutely benefit the company reduce turnover, increased productivity, and reduce the struggle with underperforming employees who’ve just started. Now, the really good news is that this is all likely part of the reason you’re here today, right? To learn more about recruiting or to better your own processes. I’m probably preaching to the choir. Let’s just jump in.
Marissa Stribling (00:04:58):
Like I mentioned, I’ve done a lot of recruiting, and believe me, I understand it can be daunting to find the right person, especially if this is a really brand new position you’ve never filled before, in which case, you may be wondering what you’re even looking for. Or if you’re replacing a valuable long term employee who had a specialized role, you might be wondering how you can ever find someone to replace that specific skill set or knowledge base. Let’s begin with the absolute first tasks you should start thinking about once you know that there is a need to hire a new employee.
Marissa Stribling (00:05:32):
Okay, you’ll want to start by focusing on your employer brand. Really, what is that? Ultimately, your brand is synonymous with your company culture. Think of it like the personality of the company. This is the environment in which employees work. It includes a variety of elements such as the company’s policies and internal practices, the work environment, physical, remote, offices, workspaces. It all encompasses the company mission, values, ethics, expectations, and how employees relate to one another.A company culture, and therefore your brand, is ingrained in the company.
Marissa Stribling (00:06:12):
Each employee that’s hired is thought to be a good match for this existing culture, and to bring strength to the company’s vision and goals. Your brand is the way people outside of your organization perceive you, and it’s the way those who work for the company perceive you. Next, you’ll want to think about your talent pipeline. I receive questions regularly from clients about internal candidates, and while qualified internal candidates can sometimes receive hiring preference, my recommendation is that these candidates should go through the general process for interviewing regardless of their internal status.
Marissa Stribling (00:06:53):
Keep in mind that while they may be perfect for the role they’re in now, are they perfect for the role they applied for? Assessing this question is what the interview process is all about. This process will help you ascertain whether the internal candidate is in fact the right fit for this role. I always recommend making consistency a priority with any internal policies or practices regarding job openings. For example, some companies have a policy that states that all job postings will be made internally prior to anywhere outside of the organization.
Marissa Stribling (00:07:31):
Some companies even specify the period of time for this, perhaps stating the position will be posted internally for one week and then externally afterwards. If you have anything like this, you want to make sure you follow through on those commitments. Another consideration for internal candidates are those you don’t feel are qualified or capable of the position. Maybe someone’s gone out for a job that’s a step or two more than you think they’re ready to take right now. I still recommend an interview with these candidates for a few reasons.
Marissa Stribling (00:08:01):
Even if they’re not the exact right fit for the position and are not chosen, this really helps with employee retention because this shows you have an interest in the employee’s career. Plus, another bonus is it gives managers the opportunity to really help develop candidates for future roles. For example, if you have an employee who expresses interest in a role that you had no idea they were interested in, now you know and you can get them ready for that position in the future. Essentially, this gives you a pipeline of internal candidates. Speaking of pipelines, I do recommend adding some sort of capture field to your website, if possible, just to create what I refer to as a talent pipeline.
Marissa Stribling (00:08:43):
Essentially, when a candidate’s on your website searching for a job opening that suits their skills or interests, I want to collect their information right then, even if I don’t have a job opening for them just yet. That way, you’re not relying on candidates to just happen upon your website when a position is open. You’re collecting their information when they’re interested, and then sending an email to them once a position is available. Candidates often want to submit resumes even when there isn’t a position open, and this way, I don’t end up keeping an endless file full of unsolicited resumes.
Marissa Stribling (00:09:17):
Now another thing to make sure you’re doing as an ongoing process is to simply get out there. Make sure you have a network, talk to your friends or colleagues in a similar industry, make sure everyone knows that you think your company is a fabulous place to work and why. In my experience, some of the best employees I’ve ever had started our application process as a referral. It’s important to be in recruiting mode, even if you don’t currently have a position open because it will help build that pipeline and lessen the work during the formal recruiting process.
Marissa Stribling (00:09:52):
One last consideration is an employee referral program. These can be really useful to recruit new talent. Who better to do that than those who are already working for you? They know how great your company is, they know exactly what the job entails. Oftentimes, there’s a small incentive when a referral is hired, or after the new employee successfully completes 60 or 90 days of work as a thank you for helping to recruit for the company. Okay, you have a vacancy. Now what? Well, let’s talk about an HR tool that we call a needs assessment. Now, even though it may sound like it’s not a scary process, and I’m just going to give you a high level overview of how this can be so helpful.
Marissa Stribling (00:10:33):
You can use the considerations from the slide to help start your assessment. When using this tool for an open position, some additional important details you’ll want to ask yourself might include where are we now? Meaning, what is the position right now? Is it new? Is it due to a vacancy? Also, what responsibilities does the position currently include? Where do we need to be? Meaning what job duties and responsibilities should the position include? What should this employee be tasked with? Then lastly, how do we get there? You’ll assess the gap between the two previous questions, where are we now and where do we need to be?
Marissa Stribling (00:11:12):
You’ll update the position description and proceed with recruiting in order to fill that gap. I rely heavily on a factual assessment like this one, such as determining the best way to proceed. I think it’s best to be knowledgeable of this information, and have it all in order before beginning the hunt for the perfect candidate. Think of it this way, if you don’t even know exactly what you’re looking for, how can a candidate know what you expect and how can you select the perfect candidate? Of course, nothing is set in stone and this is likely to evolve as you proceed but I prefer to have these details in mind as a roadmap for recruitment.
Marissa Stribling (00:11:51):
Another tip is that if you’re replacing an employee, work with the outgoing employee to determine what institutional knowledge they’re taking with them and anything that wasn’t written down that’s critical to maintain success in that role. I’ve even had departing employees review their own job descriptions for accuracy with their day-to-day tasks before their last day. Next, it’s important to take a factual look at what can be trained versus what you need the new employee to come to employment with. What skills, knowledge and experience do they need to bring with them? What are the minimums and what is absolutely required?
Marissa Stribling (00:12:27):
Then what are you prepared to train on? Lastly, hire for yours and the team’s weaknesses. Managers and supervisors are not tasked with being the very best at every responsibility for every member of their team. Their role is to manage the team and to focus on big picture things. To grow the best and most well-rounded team possible, hire for your weakness. This assessment is a really great time and a great way to identify this. Okay, to begin, a job description is critical. I can’t emphasize this enough. I’m going to repeat this so many times today, you’re going to be sick of hearing it, I’m sure.
Marissa Stribling (00:13:09):
But it’s critical for every person, new and old, in every position. I rely on these all the time and for so many things. What better time to review your existing job descriptions or create new ones than the recruiting process? The job description should be in place before you meet with your first candidate. Think of this as the roadmap for the position. What knowledge, skills and abilities the ideal candidate needs to bring to the table? The recruiting process relies heavily on this document, so you absolutely need to spend time here. It’s important to keep in mind that all positions and roles are living and evolving.
Marissa Stribling (00:13:51):
Begin by reviewing and adjusting a current employees job description for today’s tasks. Now, I actually suggest doing this every time a position is open, and also as part of your regular performance review process for your current employees, maybe annually, makes the job much smaller than if you wait several years to review a job description and update it. I recommend including the essential functions of the job on this document. The list here should really be around 10 items. Too many and we’re overusing essential, too few and we’re relying a bit too heavily on that other duties as assigned catch-all.
Marissa Stribling (00:14:30):
While it can be tempting to list each duty, responsibility and desired quality and attribute, doing so runs the risk of turning your job description into a procedures manual. When listening to job functions … Sorry, when listing job functions, make sure you cover the things the employee will be doing day in and day out. Now I just mentioned my favorite catch-all other duties as assigned. I strongly recommend you and each essential functions list on each job description with those words. To be blunt, it helps to avoid the that’s not my job conversation.
Marissa Stribling (00:15:08):
There are times when an employee, regardless of job title, needs to tidy a conference room or take out the garbage or help out in another department. As an HR professional, I can tell you I’ve spent a day working as a receptionist, I’ve been a salesperson in a pinch, I’ve also played custodian more times than I can count. You better believe none of these functions are explicitly listed on my job description. The job description should also definitely include the physical requirements of the job, an equal employment opportunity statement, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance statement.
Marissa Stribling (00:15:45):
Now, an EEO statement will demonstrate, to prospective clients and the EEOC, that the company takes equal employment seriously and will not tolerate employment discrimination or harassment. The ADA statement will prove helpful in the event that an employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the physical requirements of the job are also useful if asked for reasonable accommodation, or in the event of a worker’s compensation claim. All right, let’s talk about compensation. Before you post the position, you’ll want to review the pay range and analyze how it compares to others in your market.
Marissa Stribling (00:16:22):
I think it’s best to determine if you’re going to lead the market, match the market or to lag the market. Essentially, what that means is are you going to pay them more than your competitors, are you going to pay about the same, or are you in a position where you’re just not able to pay the average of what your competitors are paying? Keep in mind, all of these compensation philosophies are absolutely fine. Not every company can have the highest salaries. I’m not suggesting you even need to do that in order to get the best candidates. But you can still get great candidates if you match or even have to lag the market.
Marissa Stribling (00:16:59):
I recommend assessing budgetary guidelines, your geographic location, similar industries and similar positions as you determine your pay philosophy. A company looking for an accounting manager in St. Cloud, Minnesota, will very likely have a different pay range to offer than a company located in Philadelphia or San Francisco, and that’s perfectly fine. Also, keep in mind compensation is about more than just salary. It includes other benefits, and we’ll talk about those in just a moment. Okay, here’s one more thing to do before you actually start looking for a new employee, determine who your point person for hiring for this position will be.
Marissa Stribling (00:17:41):
Now, that may be the person who’s going to be the new hire’s direct supervisor, could be someone else in your company who you have decided should handle all of the hiring. Now, this internal point person will pre-screen candidates and pass on qualified resumes to anyone else who needs to see them, and this point person will review the applications based on the job description, the required qualifications, the strengths and weaknesses determined by the manager and anyone else who’s in the hiring position for that role. If you’re using one person to handle all of the hiring pieces, now, you might receive pushback from individual managers who may be used to being that point person for hiring the people that are going to be on their team.
Marissa Stribling (00:18:23):
Now, I recommend reminding them that you may very well received 30 applications for one job, and only 10, maybe fewer, are going to meet the necessary qualifications. In all honesty, this part of recruitment takes a lot of time, and you’ll want to assure managers that relieving them of this administrative burden is going to save them time to do what they actually need to be doing, and that the best candidates will absolutely get passed along to them for review. Consistency and record keeping compliance are other areas where having one person as your hiring point person may be an advantage.
Marissa Stribling (00:18:58):
Having a single person helping direct the hiring process will better ensure that each round of hiring is conducted in a similar and fair fashion. For record keeping, it’s really important that companies adhere to recruiting guidelines issued by the EEOC. These require that you keep all application materials for those that you don’t hire for one year after the hiring decision was made. All right. It’s time to go fishing and talk about attracting talent. We want to work to find the best candidates for our positions to meet the specifications of our job descriptions, and this starts by getting the word out there about the opening.
Marissa Stribling (00:19:43):
How do we begin to attract talent to even apply for our role? One important way is by creating job postings. You want to identify why somebody would want to work for you and be clear about the job requirements and expectations and essential functions. Let’s talk about why someone wants to work for you. Really, what makes your company special. One of the first ways you can do this is to put the company’s strengths right into the job postings. For example, if you encourage a great work-life balance, or if you have on site food or if your benefits package is amazing, you offer something like unlimited PTO, or you offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to remote work, talk about this, whenever it is.
Marissa Stribling (00:20:27):
You definitely want to have some swagger in your job posting, and that is going to give candidates an idea of the culture you have, which will in turn generate excitement for the position and working for your company. The job posting itself should include the minimum requirements for the ideal candidate and the essential functions from your job description. For example, if you require a college degree in business or two years of prior management experience, I recommend getting this out there right away. You can even include the full job description in your posting, or a link to your website. It’s posted there.
Marissa Stribling (00:21:02):
Now, if you don’t have online posting capabilities on your website, tell interested parties who they can contact for an application and the full job description. As I’m sure you can tell, I really want a candidate to see that job description and expectations before they apply. Prior to posting, I recommend deciding whether or not you’re going to post pay along with the job. In an effort to be transparent, I prefer to post the pay, but I’ll give you a few pros and cons to consider here when you’re making that decision.
Marissa Stribling (00:21:32):
On the plus side, it may immediately generate interest and can help demonstrate that you have nothing to hide and that you value transparency. Additionally, it can help qualified candidates determine if the position is right for them and may help people screen themselves out before even submitting an application. On the flip side, a few cons of posting the pay with the job is if the pay is too low, some qualified candidates may choose not to apply based only on that detail. It also doesn’t give you an opportunity to adjust pay for the right candidate, if that’s a company practice.
Marissa Stribling (00:22:09):
Competitors may certainly use the pay information to post a position at a pay rate above yours. If you have really competitive pay, you might generate tons of eager applicants who may not be qualified for the job. Finally, at the end of your posting, you want to link to the job description so interested parties can review all the details. Okay, time for our first poll. I’m going to hand it over to Sarah, who’s running the behind the scenes stuff here to launch the poll for us.
Yeah. We’ll let Marissa get a sip of water real quick while we’re doing this. I’m going to go ahead and launch the poll here. Go ahead and click on what’s true for you. Do you include compensation information in your job postings? Yeah, go ahead click. Do you? Yes. Yes, we do. No, but we may start, or nope, and just don’t plan to. It looks like just over half of you have voted. That’s wonderful. I’ll go ahead and give you another few seconds here. Jumped up to 70%. That’s awesome. Okay, I’ll give you another few seconds here.
I’ll go ahead and close this in five, four, three, two and one. Okay. Closing now. Let’s take a look at what you all responded with. Looks like just about half of you said yes, we do. You do include compensation info in your job postings, and no, the other half is no in different varieties. Yeah, thank you so much for participating in that.
Marissa Stribling (00:23:55):
Thank you. All right. Moving on. We’re going to talk about other methods of recruiting and hiring. On this slide, I just want to give a shout out to all the professional recruiters out there. These are a highly skilled set of professionals who can find just about anyone that you’re looking for. I like to think of them like Batman. You’re going to throw out the bat signal, and even if you think you’ve got a position that’s impossible to fill, chances are a professional recruiter already has someone that can fill that position. And if not, they’re going to work really hard to find someone that does and they’re really good at it.
Marissa Stribling (00:24:37):
Professional recruiters are commonly used for higher level positions or those that are more difficult to fill. One of the reasons that they’re so successful is because they have a national talent pipeline. They likely have people from all 50 states that are interested in possibly available to interview for a position that you have open. They also have national salary data and other useful information. You might have salary information for your industry or maybe just your geographic area, but professional recruiters likely have that information for a lot broader range of positions and areas.
Marissa Stribling (00:25:13):
However, they do come at a premium because they’re very good at what they do. Their services are likely to be expensive, but they’re also going to be worth it if you need it. A professional recruiter typically charges about a 20% fee. If you have an existing relationship with them, maybe sometimes that’s less. But for example, if you’re hiring for a position that’s going to pay $100,000 a year in salary, a professional recruiter might cost you 20%, or $20,000 in fee in addition to you having to actually pay that employee salary.
Marissa Stribling (00:25:46):
Staffing agencies can also be great resources on a more temporary basis, whereas a professional employer organization, or a PEO, might be a good long term resource. A PEO operates as an organization’s HR department and that it becomes the employer of record, and in turn leases the employee or employees back to the organization. A PEO can provide full service HR functions, payroll and or benefits services, and they can also provide a cost effective solution that allows smaller companies to offer benefits that might be comparable to larger organizations.
Marissa Stribling (00:26:24):
Now, if you take on recruiting internally, let’s discuss important considerations when thinking about where you might post jobs. We don’t want to get to do … Sorry. What we don’t want to do is get to a point where we’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. I know recruiting is expensive, and you certainly want to be strategic. You definitely want to post on that hot site for your industry, which is going to be different depending on what your industry is. But in the past, if you’ve advertised on websites that you have to pay to post on, I recommend going back and spending a few minutes to analyze those results.
Marissa Stribling (00:27:00):
Consider not only what you paid up front, but did you receive a good number of applications specifically from that source? Were the candidates qualified? Was it worth the cost overall? I also encourage you to narrow your focus to where you have or haven’t had success in the past. While newspaper ads and online job boards can be a very valuable way to recruit new talent and reach a wide range of people, it’s also important to think about other ways you might source applicants, maybe some that are more under the radar. Think about places and events where talented candidates may be hiding.
Marissa Stribling (00:27:39):
Sometimes they’re hiding in plain view, so overlooked talent pools. For example, there’s a website you can post jobs on specifically geared towards certain populations or groups, and that could be a fantastic pool of candidates to recruit from for certain positions. Don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, a company that recruits hundreds of service techs every year got really inventive a few years back, and they sponsored a dragster in a drag race, and that enabled them to search through highly skilled candidates with mechanical backgrounds that might not actively have been looking for new employment but now were sitting right in their laps.
Marissa Stribling (00:28:20):
Certainly take advantage of any community events and job fairs in your area. Tabling can be a really great way to reach out and connect with potential applicants face to face. Beginning to and being able to answer questions about your company and the position before an interested person even completes an application can help weed out those who may not have been a good fit or might not have ended up being happy or successful in the role. An often overlooked resource is schools. Many colleges actually generate job boards and job lists because they guarantee their graduates a job placement rate and they have an entire department of individuals, staff to help their students become employees in the industry of their education.
Marissa Stribling (00:29:04):
Oftentimes, those services and those boards and those lists even exist for alum who maybe it’s been 10, 15, 20 years since they graduated. Oftentimes, the coordinators of these programs will come to you for jobs as well if you’ve established a relationship, and that’s another direct talent pipeline. Reach out to your local community colleges or local universities or trade schools and talk with them about any students that they might have that would fit your needs. Another great source that often gets forgotten about is reaching out to those who submitted applications to work for you in the past and even those you interviewed who might have been a second or third choice.
Marissa Stribling (00:29:45):
You already know they’re interested in your company and you may already have even met them face to face. Even if it’s been a few months or half a year since they submitted an application, reach out. What’s the worst that can happen? As I mentioned earlier, you do want to talk up your employment benefits. Employers can get so tied up in the job expectations and the daily responsibilities, which are important, and like I’ve said, they have to be included. But they often forget the fun stuff. They forget to sell themselves as an employer, they forget to talk about all the awesome reasons that somebody would want to work for them.
Marissa Stribling (00:30:25):
Really talk yourself up and put your best face forward. This can be done in the job posting, in the pre screening, and again, in the interviews. Be sure to include any traditional benefits you offer, areas insurances or retirement plans paid time off, but don’t forget the ancillary stuff as well. Have you won a workplace award for a great workplace culture or employee morale? If so, talk it up. If you have flexible hours, let’s share that. If you allow employees to telecommute, great. If you offer discounts for your products or services that an applicant may be interested in, let’s share that too.
Marissa Stribling (00:31:02):
Honestly, these things will tip the scale at some point. I guarantee it. As you prepare the list of benefits to sell yourself, think about the following. What makes working at your company special? Why do employees get excited to get out of bed and work for you each day? What do you offer that others don’t? These are the things we want to tell our applicants. Not long ago, it was an employers job market. Employers could be a bit laissez faire about recruiting. The thought process was more along the lines of, well, I have a job opening, I know we’re in a recession and all kinds of people will be competing for this job, so I don’t really have to get excited about benefits and extras.
Marissa Stribling (00:31:46):
But that has changed. Due in part to the pandemic as well as a lot of other factors, it’s an employee’s job market right now. Employees have lots of options, Lots of companies are hiring, and they’re going to be very discerning about where they choose to take their career. We need to be certain to let them know how our company stands out from the rest. Another way to attract great talent is highlighting the company’s growth potential. Let’s say, for example, you know you’re offering an entry or mid level position, and you don’t necessarily think you’ll be able to lead the market in terms of pay.
Marissa Stribling (00:32:23):
Well, it’s a great opportunity to use growth potential during the hiring process, as it can be a great lore. Candidates want to see there’s a career path for them. Now, it’s really important not to make any promises you can’t uphold or don’t intend to keep, but absolutely outline what a typical career trajectory for this position might be during the interview. Remember, though, the promotion or position transfer is likely to come only after the employee successfully masters the essential functions of the initial role, right? It’s important to communicate this and not guarantee any concrete timeframe for growth.
Marissa Stribling (00:33:01):
For example, we don’t want to be in the interviews promising that in six months you’re going to be a manager, especially if that’s really not realistic. We really need to see that employee in action before we can determine a timeframe as well. Additionally, such a concrete promise really could be construed as a verbal and binding contract that you might be held accountable to. We really just want to make sure the applicants are aware that there are growth opportunities for employees. All right. At this point, we’ve got a lot of talented applicants and we want to make sure we’re tracking these details and being efficient in the process.
Marissa Stribling (00:33:43):
If you’ve hit this point and you’re satisfied with the selection, move forward. If not, go back and keep working those initial steps. It’s really important work keeping track of the documents a candidate submits for the position along with the interview notes and any other information related to the decision to hire or not hire a candidate for a year after the decision is made. This can be accomplished via electronic or paper record keeping. Now, I’m old school here, but my preference is I maintain one paper file per position opening and I mark the file with the date the hiring decision was made. Then I’m certain to maintain the file for the retention period.
Marissa Stribling (00:34:28):
You can also do that on a computer and just name the file the same way. However, if you have a software system, you may want to scan in the interview notes and attach them to the application or maintain a separate file just for the interview notes because you’re already maintaining a bunch of the information electronically in a different system. Another consideration is how much hiring you do. It can get really cumbersome if you have paper files for every position and you’re hiring 10 people every six weeks. If that’s the case for you, you may want to look to scan the information and store it electronically.
Marissa Stribling (00:35:05):
Either way, just be certain you have files for the proper retention period. In case the hiring decision is ever challenged, you’ll likely rely heavily on those documents. Now, one way that we can track applications, if we have the luxury, is the use of recruiting software. Software systems can be incredibly useful to accept and sort applications. These are often called applicant tracking systems or ETS. If you’re in a company that uses this software, it’s really important not to use the system as a crutch. Overusing application systems, and what I mean by that is lengthy application processes, challenging test questions, or asking someone to basically rewrite their entire resume into your software, that kind of stuff.
Marissa Stribling (00:35:53):
Anyway, overusing the systems those ways can get a bit cumbersome, and it is not a great first impression on a candidate. I’ve absolutely heard people say that they’ve abandoned the application process because they can just tell the application process is reflection on the company as a whole. You’ll want to make sure the system is focused on the job relatedness of the essential functions. It’s really important to keep in mind that recruiting software just can’t screen for any X factor. Think about your company culture and employees fit with you. These can’t be screened with some sort of software.
Marissa Stribling (00:36:28):
Instead, for strength like this and the candidates fit with your team, I recommend relying on cover letters and personalized applications, and these allow employees to share what it is that interests them about your job, and that speaks volumes for them. Also, it can’t be captured in those automated systems. In addition to recruitment software, companies do use other project management or software that isn’t meant for recruitment. But it can be stretched to work depending on the need. For smaller companies, it may just mean using what you’ve already got and figuring out how to make it work for you.
Marissa Stribling (00:37:06):
Okay. On the next couple of slides, we’re going to talk about screening all applicants. Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of the recruitment process. Time spent thoroughly reviewing applications to screen them ahead of time really makes the interview process great and challenging, because you’re likely to end up with a lot of really great candidates in the interview. It makes this final selection difficult, but that’s my favorite problem to have. There are a lot of things to consider during the screening process, and I’m going to share just a few of my favorite with you.
Marissa Stribling (00:37:42):
First, I really love cover letters. Even those that are just a simple introductory email, it tells me a lot. When you’re looking at a candidate skill set, consider what you need on day one versus what you can train them to do once they start. We don’t want to ask for things that aren’t necessary for the job. Does every job require a bachelor’s degree? Absolutely not. Some might not even require a high school diploma. But then again, some absolutely do require a certain level of education or a certain level of experience. Basically, just keep the job in mind as you’re pre screening and setting those expectations and requirements.
Marissa Stribling (00:38:25):
Screening is also a time to look for red flags. For instance, I don’t like it when an application is incomplete, or when an applicant doesn’t proofread their application or their cover letter. No, I’m not asking everyone right at the same level as I would be looking for someone looking for an editor position. But I do want applicants to at least spend a few minutes to proofread and ensure a good first impression. I also look for suspicious gaps in employment where maybe a job was excluded from the list. Now, you do have to be careful with this one though, as it’s not uncommon for people to just simply be unemployed for a period of time, and right now is a great example of a lot of people who due to a pandemic were out of work unexpectedly.
Marissa Stribling (00:39:10):
I do also watch for odd reasons for leaving a previous job and ask the applicant if you need any clarification. For example, in the seasonal retail world, I can tell you that leaving a job in November and stating it was the end of the season as the reason of their of separation, that’s a little suspect. That’s the busiest time of year in retail. Now, another interesting one would be a lack of permission to contact a previous employer. The big exception, of course, would be for a current employer I fully understand and respect a candidate may not want me to contact them. But if you don’t want me to contact a past employer, I might want to know why that is.
Marissa Stribling (00:39:50):
Not to say you have a good reason, but I’d probably want to know why. Now, these things would at least just raise questions in my mind. It would be something I would want to keep in the back of my mind and be aware of as I move forward in the hiring process. But I do not recommend relying solely on little red flags to keep applicants out or to screen them out. Just keep an eye out for patterns of behavior that catch your eye. Especially these days, like I said, the pandemic really put people in some unusual employment or unemployment situations. We really want to make sure we’re giving a little grace in that regard.
Marissa Stribling (00:40:34):
Then we have verifications. Really important note here, there is a vast difference between verifications and reference checks. Okay? When should you conduct a reference check and when should you verify information provided in applications? Well, I strongly recommend completing both after screening applications. After you’ve picked the best of the best, you then have a choice to conduct reference checks before or after you set up an interview. I have gotten into some pretty lively discussions with other HR professionals about this timing, whether they prefer to wait until after an interview or do it before. That’s it.
Marissa Stribling (00:41:13):
I just don’t personally want to waste time in an interview with someone who wasn’t truthful about their education or their licenses obtained or other facts about their employment history. In a lot of situations, I recommend performing those verifications around those pieces prior to interviews. All right. At this point in the process, you’ve got some great applications, they’ve been screened, and now is the time to bring these candidates in and see what they have to offer our company. It’s really, really important that we prepare internally for this interview.
Marissa Stribling (00:41:51):
Now, before the interview, you will want to design your interview structure, and this comes with a lot of factors to consider and decide. First of all, figure out who. Decide who is involved in interviewing and include them from here on out. How many people per interview and how many interviews total? You can choose a format that makes the most sense for your company. Determine where the interviews will be held, how long each should be, and what type of interview style you’ll use.
Marissa Stribling (00:42:21):
There are different approaches to the interview itself, some are right for certain situations, and you’ll know best about the kind of approach that you want to take. There are standard interviews, behavioral and situational interviews, even presentation and panel interviews. I’ll elaborate on some of these. Consider what the employee will be doing for you when planning their interview. If their day-to-day involves dealing with other employees, consider a panel interview, which is one that’s conducted by a group of two or more interviewers. Panel …
Marissa, for some reason, your sound just cut out.
Marissa Stribling (00:43:03):
Oh, good. You’re back.
Marissa Stribling (00:43:07):
Sorry about that. Can you hear me?
Yeah, we’re good now. Thank you.
Marissa Stribling (00:43:14):
Perfect. Thank you. As I was saying, if the day-to-day for the candidate for the job they’re interviewing for would involve dealing with other employees, consider a panel interview, which is one that’s conducted by a group of two or more interviewers. Panels can be useful, but they have a specific purpose. For example, if you’re hiring for director of operations, this person has to work with a wide variety of company personnel from all different departments. That person also likely has to work in front of people and around people all day, and perhaps maybe under a bit of pressure in some circumstances.
Marissa Stribling (00:43:49):
Having this candidate meet with a larger group of people makes sense as it resembles what they will actually be doing every day. If it’s not a position that will work with a cross section of the company, then I wouldn’t recommend this style of interviewing. Also, if you choose panel interviews, smaller or large, be sure to notify the candidate of this ahead of time so they know what to expect. I personally recommend letting them know who they’ll be meeting with and what their roles are. I personally prefer behavioral interviews. The industries that I’ve been in are really about how you handle yourself on the job and how you handle tough situations with customers or clients all while maintaining excellent service.
Marissa Stribling (00:44:30):
For example, one of my favorite questions is tell me about a time that you had to help a client with a really difficult situation and the client became upset. From there, I want to hear how the candidate worked with the client, what their thought process was like, and how they achieved a solution. Now, this may or may not be appropriate for you depending on the position you’re filling. Then if you are the point person, you’ll want to ensure all the interviewers have the necessary information to be successful. This typically includes providing each interviewer a copy of the applicant resumes, perhaps their applications and cover letters as well.
Marissa Stribling (00:45:14):
Ensuring interviewers have a copy of the job description will also help keep them focused on the important pieces of the role. Lastly, and pretty critical, be sure to provide interviewers confirmation of and hopefully even a reminder about the date, time, location of each interview so we make sure everything goes smoothly. Okay, I strongly recommend preparing five or six interview questions ahead of time. This will help you feel more prepared for the interview itself, so that you can give the candidate your undivided attention and it’ll also help you cover everything you want to discuss and interview in a consistent way, have answers and information you can compare from one candidate to the next.
Marissa Stribling (00:46:02):
On the flip side, you do want to allow yourself time to elaborate or go inside tangents with the candidate rather than sticking rigidly to the questions you’ve prepared. We don’t want to be robots, right? Oftentimes, you can gain very valuable information you didn’t even know you wanted. Now, it’s also important that we have the right kinds of questions and that we remain job focused. I’m going to talk more about discrimination in a minute, but I do want to mention it here as well. It’s really easy to stray into troublesome waters with interview questions even when you think you’re basing questions on legitimate job factors.
Marissa Stribling (00:46:39):
For example, you might want to ask about scheduling availability, and that’s a really important question. But to do this, we don’t want to ask questions like, well, do you have reliable childcare? Instead, we want to define and emphasize what we need in terms of scheduling availability, and then ask the candidate if they’re able to meet those requirements. Asking somebody about their childcare could easily be perceived as discriminatory, even if that’s not your intent. Age is also a subject to steer clear from. Under federal law in many state laws age is protected, so we need to be careful what we’re asking and that we’re not asking questions purposely or inadvertently about someone’s protected class.
Marissa Stribling (00:47:28):
Now, that doesn’t mean we have to eliminate age-related questions altogether. It just means we need to repackage them a little bit. I’ve worked with clients that for licensing purposes or in order to operate machinery or insurance requirements, there are age requirements for the job, and that’s perfectly fine. But we can’t simply ask for candidate’s age. Instead, state the requirement, just like I mentioned before. For example, you might state employees have to be 18 in order to operate the machinery required for this position, and then ask the candidate if they meet that requirement, at which point, they should just be able to provide a simple yes or no.
Marissa Stribling (00:48:11):
Now, I’m going to backtrack a little bit because while I just talked about a situation where a yes or no answer is useful to avoid discrimination with age, for the most part, we generally want to ask questions that are open-ended and allow the candidate to elaborate a bit for us. Asking how would your coworkers describe your work style or work habits is a great question, as opposed to are you organized and are you thorough? Because it will allow the candidate to provide you with a better sense of who they are. All right, time for our second poll question. I’m going to hand it over to Sarah again.
Yep, perfect. Yes. We are super curious to hear from you on this one. I’ll go ahead and get the poll launched here. Go ahead and just click on the answer that applies to you. How many rounds of interviews do you usually schedule for a candidate before offering the job? Is it usually just a single interview? Is it usually two to three? Or is it usually four or more? Looks like over half of you have voted already. You are quick. This is great audience. We’re up to 65% of you that have voted.
I’ll give you another few seconds here to weigh in. We would love to see what your standard style is for the rounds of interviews. Up to 72%. Perfect. I’ll close in about five seconds here. All right, and closing now, I’m going to end the poll. Let’s take a look. It looks like nearly 75% of you tend to have two to three rounds of interviews, which, yeah, I think that doesn’t surprise me. What do you think, Marissa?
Marissa Stribling (00:50:04):
Yeah, I think that’s really common. There are certainly types of positions that were more extensive interview process, and there are lots of positions that you only need one. A lot of times those are positions where we’re hiring in mass or we’re hiring really entry level positions, things like that. Great. Thank you so much for sharing, everyone. All right. Now we’re going to move on to the interview. As you may already be sensing, all of the work leading up to the interview is much more time consuming than the actual interview itself. Let’s talk about that next step, the interviews.
Marissa Stribling (00:50:43):
First and foremost, please be on time for any interview. I also like to offer the candidate water and set the scene first, make sure they’re comfortable. Be sure to introduce all employees who are joining in the interview, explain who they are, what they do, why they’re involved in the interview if it isn’t clear by their position. I also think it’s great to give the candidate some background on the company and the role you’re seeking to fill. You might have listed a lot of that information in the job posting, but who knows how long ago that was or if they’re able to remember the details, or there might be other things that you want to share with them that weren’t in the posting.
Marissa Stribling (00:51:25):
As far as asking the questions, this may seem like silly advice, but ask the question and then stop talking. Let them answer. It can be easy to get carried away explaining what you’re looking for in the question or trying to help clarify, but that can leave the interviewee with either too much information or too little time to answer. Stick to open-ended questions, get it out there and then let them tell you their answer. Another common occurrence is leading the candidate with the questions. If you ask, “Are you a hard worker,” you’re likely going to have a difficult time finding a candidate that would actually answer no to that question, even if they aren’t.
Marissa Stribling (00:52:05):
It’s understandable that you want to know if a candidate will be a productive successful employee. But asking a candidate a closed-ended and leading question is not a good way to obtain that information. Now, while you are welcome to take notes during the interview, I typically recommend against writing directly on an applicant’s resume or application. Writing notes on these could potentially be used to support a claim of discrimination, especially if the application is handwritten with your handwritten notes added later, right? That could unintentionally make it appear that the employer was trying to sabotage the application in some way.
Marissa Stribling (00:52:41):
What I recommend is notes relevant to an applicant’s skills or experience and that are related to the job in question can be recorded on a separate evaluation sheet. One final piece of advice here, if you make notes about each candidate’s appearance as a way to help remind yourself of who was who, just remember that in court, those notes may look more like potential discrimination. Be careful. Lastly, stay on track and on time. Remember the candidate should also be interviewing the company. Be sure to leave a little time for Q&A at the end or answer questions along the way, whichever style you prefer.
Marissa Stribling (00:53:19):
We also want to respect their time. If we tell them to expect to come in for an hour, hour and a half for an interview, we should keep it to that timeframe. Ultimately, the interview isn’t really about you in that moment. It’s about collecting information so that you can make a decision. It’s a conversation about their skill set and abilities that you can use to evaluate if and how they would benefit and be a good match for your company. I touched on some of this a minute ago, but it’s important to be aware of a few pitfalls during interviews that could have unintended and unexpected consequences down the road.
Marissa Stribling (00:53:59):
This is important for you and all interviewers to know before you go into an interview. Ultimately, the best way to avoid claims of discrimination in interviews is to focus on the essential functions of the job, and again, that’s why the job description is so important. At some point in time, you may find yourself in a position where you actually need to end or redirect questions that are a little out of line, such as the do you have childcare question we talked about before. Now I try to be very proactive and train or coach managers ahead of time, but I’ve definitely been in this situation many times.
Marissa Stribling (00:54:36):
Now, I’ve never had a manager ask a question that I thought they intended to be discriminatory or problematic, and thankfully, though, just about every question can be adjusted so that it’s appropriate to get at the information you need. While asking directly about childcare isn’t appropriate, the point you’re trying to get at is your workplace schedule, and in this situation, you can redirect the question back to the candidate and just say, “Oh, I actually don’t need you to answer that, but what we do need to know is really whether or not you can work our schedule that includes nights and weekends.”
Marissa Stribling (00:55:07):
To be honest, we don’t really care about someone’s childcare situation, or any other personal factors. What we care about is whether or not they can work the schedule. Plus, if you narrow the question to childcare too much, you may miss out on a really valuable answer. For example, what if someone says they have no problems with childcare, but that person may be enrolled in evening night classes, or maybe they have a second job, but they work evenings and weekends? The question didn’t even get the information that you were actually looking for. Now, one other thing I want to mention is that discrimination in hiring based on the customer’s preference is still discrimination.
Marissa Stribling (00:55:48):
For example, I’ve had managers say to me before, “Well, I want a female in this position at the front desk,” or, “I only want a male as a ski instructor because customers want a male ski instructor.” Well, I have to advise them that it’s my job to protect the company in our hiring processes, and that’s unfortunately just not how I’m able to recruit or hire. But I do assure them I’m going to find them the best candidates for the position, and that I’m excited to involve them in that hiring process. That way, I can reassure my co-worker, but I can still stay on track with our equal employment responsibilities.
Marissa Stribling (00:56:29):
Now, I want to take a few minutes and discuss some common interview biases. It’s really important to remember that everyone has a bias, at least one, because we’re humans, we’re not robots, and we do need to be aware of them. For me, personally, my biggest weakness is the similar to me bias. It happens when I’m assessing a candidate based on similar interests or characteristics to the interviewer that have nothing to do with work sometimes. If you’re an HR professional with experience in the healthcare retail industries, and I’m interviewing you, it’s possible I think you’re just the dream candidate.
Marissa Stribling (00:57:05):
Or even further, if I learn you have a dog, or better yet, multiple dogs, that’s it, you’re hired. If I’m not careful, I might go into the interview already thinking you’re going to be perfect for the position, which of course is biased. This is a little facetious, but you get the point that we all have biases and we just need to control for them. Stereotyping is also a really common bias, and it occurs when the interviewer assumes something about a candidate because they’re a member of a group. For example, assuming a female couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to perform a job or wouldn’t want to perform a job that requires repetitive lifting before even asking them questions.
Marissa Stribling (00:57:46):
Another bias is the halo or horn effect. This is when an interviewer makes an overall determination about a person based on only one factor. Now, that factor could be positive, which would be a halo, or the factor could be negative, which would be a horn. We want to avoid basing the interview on one attribute and be sure we’re examining the whole person, the big picture and not just one or two components. Okay. We’ve completed all the legwork now. We’ve gotten through all the interviews. Let’s talk about how we follow up afterwards, and that encompasses a number of moving pieces.
Marissa Stribling (00:58:26):
Okay. Reference checks, I talked about those. I will admit, I’m a big fan. They’re extremely useful in the recruiting and hiring process. Whether you choose to conduct them prior to the interview or after you’ve selected your top candidates, I personally obtain a reference check for every single candidate I’ve interviewed. Even if it’s an entry level candidate who’s never had a job before, you can call coaches or volunteer coordinators or teachers, whoever they put down. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this slide, but ultimately, you want to make sure the questions and information collected in the reference check are factual and job-related.
Marissa Stribling (00:59:05):
Some of my go-to questions are on the slide here, right? How did this person respond to feedback? How do they react under pressure? My favorite question, tell me about a time you had to coach this individual and how they handled it. Because nobody’s perfect, everybody’s had to be coached at one time or another. The way a candidate reacted to it though, speaks volumes about their personality. Making the final selection. I prefer to gather all the information collected during the interview process, along with assessments from all of the people who were involved or will be making the hiring decision.
Marissa Stribling (00:59:39):
Like I said before, bad hires happen. It’s just a part of doing business. But you want to use the factual information collected to make the best assessment and choice for your company. Essentially, I want to make sure, to the extent that I can, that we have the right person in the right job at the right time. If you can get these in order, it will have a huge impact on success. Think back now to the job description and your company needs. Can the applicant do the job? Will the applicant do the job? The last question is is the candidate the best fit for the position and the company right now?
Marissa Stribling (01:00:19):
A few things to avoid during the hiring process, background checks, physical exams, drug tests, those all need to be job related, and they should be reserved until after you’ve extended an employment offer. Now, you might be thinking, but hey, I have a childcare facility, I have a legitimate reason to require a background check, or my candidates are driving a forklift, I have to make sure they’re drug free. I completely agree with you. You can and you probably should run these checks given the job-related circumstances, but they should be run after an employment offer has been extended. You’ll issue the job offer and you’ll issue it contingent upon successfully passing those tests.
Marissa Stribling (01:00:56):
If you utilize these sort of tests, they must be required of all similarly situated applicants and employees in the same position. It’s time to make a job offer to the finalist, and we touched on contingencies like background checks and drug screens, but I understand there are times you might need to run these checks. Just include any job necessities in the job offer itself so it’s clear that the job offer is dependent on completing those stated requirements. Lastly, let’s talk about some things to do once we have found and secured the ideal candidate. First of all, make sure you’re retaining the applications, resumes, notes, the assessments, any documentation pertaining to your hiring decision.
Marissa Stribling (01:01:40):
Again, going to be your best resources should your decision ever be challenged. Now after you’ve confirmed the accepted job offer, you want to tie up loose ends with your other applicants who were not chosen. Failure to follow up with people who have invested their time with your company is just bad business. Those that don’t hear anything after they put their hopes on the line for your position will likely view this negatively and they might even share their experience with others. Be kind and courteous to candidates who don’t meet your needs. They may turn into good hires in the future once they gain more experience, and they may be great customers between now and then.
Marissa Stribling (01:02:16):
A simple email to those who weren’t selected for an interview will do. Just let them know that the position was filled with someone who more perfectly met your qualifications and that you wish them well in their job hunt. For those who were invited in for an interview, I strongly recommend a phone call to inform them of the hiring decision. An email is okay, but again, these candidates have invested time with you, so I prefer a phone call. In my opinion, those that were invited to an interview deserves a phone call. After tying up the loose ends, next is going to be onboarding for your newly hired employee.
Marissa Stribling (01:02:51):
While that’s a subject for another training entirely, I will leave you with this. Make sure you spend time focusing on how to bring the new employee on board and prepare them for success in the job. Okay, we made it. I know I covered a lot of information today. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope you’re starting to feel a little bit more confident and prepared. I do see we had some questions that were chatted in. I’m going to start answering those. But please feel free to submit more if you still have them.
Thank you so much, Marissa. Yeah, I’ll give her a second to review some of the questions that have come in. I know that we’re a little bit over time. If anyone has to drop off, that’s fine. Just a reminder that we will send an email out in about 24 hours sometime tomorrow with a PDF of these slides and a recording of this video. If you have to drop off, but you’re curious about the Q&A, you can always return to listen to that. We will stay a few minutes over so we can help you answer some of these questions. Marissa, I’ll turn it back over to you. Thanks.
Marissa Stribling (01:03:57):
Awesome. We got a really good question about how you can complete verifications for things like education, licenses, things like that. It really depends on what you’re looking for. Education verifications, and some types of licenses, are things that can be verified through various background check platforms. It just depends on the kinds of searches you’re running on background checks. Licenses or education from a specific institution can also usually be verified from that board, that school, or wherever the license was issued from. Then other times, it may be that you ask the candidate to provide you some sort of verification if you can’t find it anywhere else and you really do need it.
Marissa Stribling (01:04:42):
We also got a question about whether or not I recommend a phone interview or screening before an in-person interview. Personally, I do. If you’re going to be doing multiple rounds of interviewing, I think phone screens or even an initial phone interview are a great way to make sure we’re really getting in the qualified and the right candidates for the later phases in interviewing. A phone interview or a screening to go over compensation and experience and answer questions and level set about the job description is a great way to make sure we’re starting off on a good spot when we move into in-person interviews.
Marissa Stribling (01:05:24):
All right. Then what are your thoughts on getting a potential new hire or new employee homework, like creating a PowerPoint presentation or something like that? Skills tests, which can be a wide range of things. Presentations, Excel, Word processing, typing tests, those are all totally valid ways to assess someone’s qualifications for a role. You do want to make sure you’re doing it fairly and you’re using a clear and consistent set of criteria and instruction, and we also don’t want to make it too time consuming. We don’t want people spending hours and hours and hours on something that’s not going to be the final phase of the interview or isn’t going to cause us to really learn a lot more about them.
Marissa Stribling (01:06:14):
I also want to point out it’s important that any skills tests or any work you have them do, whether it be creating a sample presentation or creating a mock up of something or anything like that, it cannot be actual work that your company is going to use. If it is of any benefit to the company, you would need to hire them and pay them for that time worked. All right. Last question that we have time for here is what type of feedback should you provide to a candidate that you didn’t select for a position when they ask what would have made them a better candidate? That is a fantastic question.
Marissa Stribling (01:06:57):
As I mentioned earlier, you want to be kind and be courteous and be prompt when you’re letting someone know you’ve chosen not to hire them. I usually say things like, “We think you have great skills, but we’re looking for someone with more specific experience in X, Y, Z. We decided to go with someone with more experience or more direct experience.” Or if there was something that was glaringly a problem in their interview and you feel comfortable sharing it, please just tell them. You want to be nice about it and factual, job-related, but you can share that with them. If it will help them in the future, I would say share it. All right. We are all done. That’s all the questions we have time for today. Thank you so much. Like Sarah said, we’re going to be emailing out the recording in about 24 hours, so you should keep an eye out for that. Thank you so much again for joining.