Corporate Psychologist shares top tips on hiring staff
While people promoted into positions of leadership are often tasked with hiring staff and knowing how to build a successful team, very few are given any formal training about how to make beneficial decisions when it comes time to do so.
Dr Ken Byrne, a Corporate Psychologist, has shared what he terms the Five Guiding Principles of Staff Selection in a bid to support leaders and managers as they undertake this crucial element of their role.
Start with the best question
Typically, Dr Byrne said, the recruitment process begins with an overarching question of “how will we fill this job?” rather than the more beneficial question of “what will it cost us if we hire the wrong person?” – a question which he says has a way of focusing the mind more sharply to the importance of making a sound decision.
Hire for character, not skill
The second common error made by leaders is hiring someone for the skills they have, or claim to have, rather than for their character.
“All things being equal,” he explained, “you can teach people what they need to know. What you can’t teach are things like being able to accept feedback graciously, basic kindness, the ability to learn from one’s mistakes; willingness to work cooperatively with others; a basic work ethic or honesty.”
“All of these characteristics are built in during childhood. For the most part, the candidate has them or doesn’t. No amount of coaching, discipline or cajoling will correct these deficiencies.”
Develop questions ahead of time
Dr Byrne’s third tip is to avoid interviews which are conducted by casual conversation, wherein interviewers make up questions on the spot.
“Fifty years of psychological research has shown that this is one of the biggest causes of hiring mistakes,” he said.
Consider who conducts reference checks
Often reference checks are conducted by someone other than the person who did the interview. This, Dr Byrne believes, is one of the weakest aspects of any hiring process.
Rather than a series of “yes/no” questions, he recommends the reference checking process being an opportunity to learn more about the chosen candidate.
Take it slow
Dr Byrne’s final piece of advice is to hire someone slowly and carefully.
All too often, he explained, hiring decisions are made rapidly, with a lot of pressure to bring someone on board. People who are involved in the hiring process are being taken away from what they view as “their real job”.
Should it turn out that an incorrect hiring decision has been made, it’s often an onerous process to remove the person from the position.
This formula should be reversed, he said.
“Hiring should be done slowly and carefully. When it’s clear the basic character flaws are interfering with the person’s ability to do the job, they should be removed promptly.”
Dr Byrne has more than 40 years of experience assessing job candidates from the most senior to the most junior roles across a wide variety of sectors and industries, having given advice to Coles-Myer, The Walt Disney Corporation; Australia Post; Optus; and Tattersalls, and has written a book to help hiring managers.
More information about Dr Byrne’s work is available here.
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