One of your top missions as a hiring manager is to attract and retain qualified staff. If you've been successful in onboarding personnel who address your company's needs with minimal training - bravo! On the other hand, if you recognize yourself in the gaffes that follow, it may be time for a little self-assessment. Has your lack of interview focus been conveying a message of disinterest to prospective candidates? Without even knowing it, your unrealistic expectations, inappropriate questioning or abrupt style may be limiting your recruiting efforts. Don’t let these blunders happen to you:
1) Your Job Description Is Vague: When writing out position requirements, details count! If the job description is vague, you'll be inundated with resumes from candidates who will also be unfocused. Do you really want to spend time bringing in candidates whose backgrounds may have nothing to do with the skills needed for the job?
2) You Have Forgotten What It's Like to Be a Candidate: At one time or another, we were all first-time job seekers nervously fidgeting in the lobby, waiting for our chance to shine. Now that you're in the hiring seat, don't think that it's okay for you to keep that newbie waiting out there for 15 minutes. Kindness and consideration never go out of style. If there's an emergency or unintended delay, convey that to all involved.
3) You Ask Questions That Are Unrelated to the Job or the Candidate: Nothing is more frustrating to an interviewee than when a recruiter asks questions that have nothing to do with the job requirements. Aligning an 'inquiry strategy' with the position requires planning on your part. Asking an executive about supervisory style is reasonable. Posing the question, "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be, and why?" falls into the category of unreasonable, and not very useful. For best results, allow the resume to guide you when inquiring about the candidate's background and relevant skill set, and relate these to what the position requires.
4) You Think an Interview Is an Interrogation: An overly curt, detached or serious demeanor can deter even the most enthusiastic of prospective hires. By all means, ask your most salient questions, but allow yourself to relax a bit, smile and view the interview as a conversation. Setting each interviewee at ease will increase the likelihood of making a connection with the right person. Your keen ability to size up hopefuls with a welcoming air will encourage a solid contender to not only accept your offer, but will enable them to thrive once hired.
5) You Know Ahead of Time Who You Want to Hire: It's fine to envision your ideal applicant as someone who can hit the ground running, who requires minimal training, and who'll potentially enhance your company's reputation / productivity / profit margin – all realistic expectations. Consider, however, that your preconceived image of an "Entry-level Management Trainee" might not resemble the actual human beings walking through your door. If you tend to disregard people who do not fit your fixed notions (in terms of age, gender, orientation, ethnicity, disability, etc.), you just might overlook someone with qualities perfect for the role. When you can pinpoint relevant experience, identify transferable skills, and draw out real passion for the role despite a candidate's outward characteristics, you're on your way to becoming a more savvy hiring manager
Written by Elaine Boylan, Senior Associate Director, Center for Career Development at Adelphi University