It happens to all of us … a valuable employee turns in their two-week notice. After the sinking feeling in your stomach passes, you know right away that two weeks is not enough time to replace this A-player. Not only does it take longer than that to recruit, interview, and select a new employee, the person you do select will likely need to provide their own two-week notice. On top of that, it would easily take months, maybe even a year (or more) for anyone to adequately fill this employee’s shoes. You’re crushed this person is leaving, and just the thought of hiring fills you with anxiety and even a little terror. The dreamer in you wants to do this quickly so the new employee can spend time with the departing A-player and get some valuable mentoring and training. The practical thinker in you knows there is not enough time and it’s better to hire more carefully.
Still, you have to move as quickly as possible. The job market is competitive right now and work will build up fast, along with the stress level of the rest of your team. It’s not easy to balance the need for someone now and the need for it to be the right person. You, your team, your organization, and your members need this person to have the right hard and soft skills, the right attitude, the right work ethic, the right everything.
The pressure to hire fast and right is not easy to see through. The temptation to cut corners and get someone on board who fits one, maybe two, of your parameters is strong. This is usually the first blunder we make.
Are you making any of the rest?
We all want people who are sharp, dependable, and capable. That’s not a job description, though. If you aren’t sure what this person’s responsibilities will be, you won’t know what to ask for when you start the selection process. It’s tedious, but you need to either write a job description or review and revise the existing job description.
Does your existing description still sound right? Is everything relevant? Rapid advances in technology could mean you need different skills and that some responsibilities may be out of date. If your job description still references floppy disks, pagers, and adding paper to the dot matrix printer, you should update it. Is there anything new or different you want from this position, you know, now that we have video conferencing, smartphones, and the cloud? Jobs change over time. Make sure your description reflects those changes.
Blunder 3: Hiring without a personality and cognitive assessment.
We don’t advocate using any one tool to make the decision for you (that would be mistake number 3.5), but the more information you have, the better. The more you know, the easier it will be to make a successful hire — one you feel confident about. No single tool is a crystal ball, but a personality assessment provides objective insight into the preferences and challenges of your candidate, while a cognitive assessment gives you an idea of their problem-solving aptitude and ability to learn quickly from experience.
Bonus: Post-hire, a personality assessment makes an excellent communication, team building, and career development tool.
Blunder 4: Not interviewing the candidate.
Yes, you read that right. We aren’t sure who skips the interview, but apparently, it happens. Interview each candidate. Have a set of questions you ask everyone on the first interview, giving you a consistent, quantifiable way to compare candidates. And, yes, you read that right again; this means we recommend a second interview. Use the first interview to set up your shortlist. Invite finalists back to interview with other decision-makers or applicable colleagues. The more you know, the better. We also recommend a quick, initial phone screen. If they can’t communicate well on the phone, articulate themselves or make sense, there’s no need to invite them for an in-person interview.
Blunder 5: Disregarding the required hard skills.
The job description clearly outlines the tasks and skills required for the job. Now you have to find out if your candidate has them. Asking about hard skills is a good first step, but it’s not conclusive. Test the candidate to be sure the skills you need are current or even present at all! For example, if the job involves proofreading, strong written communication, or a particular computer program, test for those skills. Consider a writing sample. Think about a test for applicable computer programs, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign, or anything else critical to the position. If some programs are simple and can be learned on the job, don’t test for them. Keep it to the critical, necessary skills, the ones you have no intention of teaching and the ones that you need on day one.
Blunder 6: No background check.
It is a lot of work finding the right candidate, but don’t miss this crucial step. Nothing is worse than finding out after the hire that the candidate lied on the resume or has a scary criminal record. Protect yourself, your company, your employees, and your members by conducting applicable background checks. Make your offer contingent on a satisfactory report.