Hire right the first time

December 10, 2012 

Anyone in the human resources profession knows that high turnover can be costly. Yet, important steps are often skipped during the hiring process resulting in a new employee who isn't the best fit for the job.

The hiring process should start by thinking ahead. Before beginning a search for candidates, consider how you'd want the new employee to fit into the company's short and long-term strategies. A thorough, future-oriented job description, with clear guidelines of what's expected can chart the course and simplify the process. A great job description also can be used as a foundation for listing the job vacancy.

When the labor market has an overabundance of applicants relative to the number of jobs available, businesses have a tendency to offer wages that are less than competitive. Doing so however, may exclude the best possible candidates. Searching competitor's job postings, purchasing salary study information or utilizing websites such as PayScale.com are useful sources of information.

While salary may be one of the deciding factors for whether a candidate will apply, a comprehensive medical plan, bonuses and other benefits such as flexible work hours, opportunity to work remotely and a more laid-back culture can offset less than competitive pay.

Developing a great job listing is an important step in finding the right candidates. A listing should include the minimum education, skills, experience and licenses required, an overview of duties and responsibilities, benefits and behavioral characteristics considered important to your company's culture.

Looking at the characteristics of your model employees can help define the traits you're looking for. Information that can entice candidates to apply may include paid medical benefits, a diverse work environment, flexible work hours or competitive pay.

One key objective during the interview process is to determine if the applicant can truly perform the job, whether they'll fit into the company's culture and discover if they have the behavioral traits needed. Asking open-ended questions such as, "Why do you think you're the best candidate for the job compared to other candidates?" or "If you were offered the position, what would be the first thing you'd like to accomplish?" Posing hypothetical questions will yield a response that can be more revealing. Also be cognizant of the tone, manner of the response and body language.

When you find a new employee that is the right fit, it will become apparent. Customers are happier, staff are happier and you can therefore focus on growth or other areas of improvement for your business.

Mary Helen Kress, president and CEO of Suncoast Workforce, a nonprofit corporation providing workforce services in Manatee and Sarasota counties, can be reached at 941-358-4080.

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