Improve Your Selection Process for Hiring

The selection process for hiring may be long and complicated, but the crucial moment arrives when you choose who will get the job. Hiring mistakes can be costly, so a lot is riding on your ability to select the best people for your available positions. If you find yourself constantly second-guessing your hiring decisions, you may want to take a close look at your selection process for hiring. And keep in mind the following advice for small business owners:

Anchor yourself to the hiring criteria

Think of the hiring criteria that you initially establish as your ground rules. In general, they should guide you all the way through your evaluation process. Anchoring yourself to the hiring criteria helps prevent three of the most common pitfalls you may encounter during the selection process for hiring:

  • The halo effect — becoming so enraptured by one particular aspect of a candidate — such as appearance, credentials or interests — that you allow that aspect to influence all your other judgments
  • The cloning effect — hiring someone in your image, even though that candidate's particular mix of skills and attributes clearly doesn't fit the available job
  • How much you "like" the candidate

Of course, you have the option to change the hiring criteria at any point. But make sure you aren't doing so simply to accommodate a specific candidate. That kind of change will definitely skew your selection process for hiring.

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Take your time

When you're under pressure, you're more likely to rush a hiring decision. And that increases your chances of hiring someone who isn't your best choice — or who you end up firing, with all the disruption that entails. Think of this as the pitfall of acting out of urgency, which causes people to overestimate candidates who may be only marginally qualified to fill the job.

If you're worried about finding someone right away, see whether you can bring in a temporary replacement to keep projects on track, while you continue the selection process for hiring.

Cross-verify whenever possible

In general, you can never have enough information about candidates — or enough different sources. So try not to rely solely on any one source, whether that's interview impressions, resume data, reference checks or testing. Cast a wide net and pay careful attention to discrepancies.

Get help, but avoid too many cooks

Getting input from others before making your final choice is a smart practice, particularly when filling a key position. But involving too many people in the final decision is a mistake. When too many people have a say, you're more likely to end up with a compromise choice. That means you're hiring the candidate who's the least objectionable to everyone — instead of getting the best employee.

If possible, involve only three to five decision makers who understand the job, your company's culture, and the personality and working style of the potential new hire's manager. At the final step in the selection process for hiring, these same people can help you choose the best applicant.

Don't force the issue

The recruiting process sometimes uncovers a "dream" employee — except for one problem: The candidate's skills and attributes don't match the hiring criteria of a particular job. In that case, the best thing you can do is scout around for another job within the company that better suits this particular candidate. The worst thing you can do is to put a good worker in the wrong job.

Keep all your options in mind

Do your best to stay alert to any extraneous factors that may distort the selection process for hiring. For instance, consider whether favored candidates are actually more qualified or were simply interviewed later in the hiring process, which keeps them fresher in the minds of interviewers. To avoid this particular pitfall, keep your focus on the hiring criteria, no matter what.

By following this selection process for hiring, you're much more likely to end up with candidates who fit well into your organization and provide the skills and experience your really need.

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