Hiring and interviewing is as much a science as it is an art. New managers will often be tasked with running their own interviews and hiring for their own teams without any formal training or experience. If you’re new to the recruiting world, here are four hard truths to keep in mind when making your first hires!
1. Your biases creep in the moment you write a job description
Cognitive biases help our brain quickly process the information in the world around us. They allow us to act quickly, which can be useful in situations when we need to make snap decisions. But what happens when these snap decisions cause us to make unfair judgments? Cue the unconscious bias, which can rear its head throughout the entire recruitment process.
This can start the moment you write your job description. The language used in a job posting can inadvertently dissuade someone from applying because of their gender. For example, descriptions that include more masculine themed words such as “competitive, dominant or assertive ”, or “guru or ninja”, over feminine themed words such as “supportive, dedicated or sociable” detract many women from applying for these roles. Focus on using language that is more gender-neutral and leverage tools like the Gender Decoder for Job Ads to spot subtle gender linguistic coding.
Moving on to the resume screenings, “confirmation bias” may lead you to create distinct opinions about someone based on minute pieces of information about them, such as having a typo in their resume, or attending an Ivy League School, before the actual interview even takes place. We can all agree that editing is crucial when job hunting, but maybe that candidate who accidentally wrote “their” instead of “there” is a much better fit for the role than the Yale alumni.
Heading into the interview, your “similar to me” bias may cause you to disproportionately favor candidates who resemble you in some way, whether it be personality, gender, religion or history. However, just because you like someone the most, doesn’t mean they are the best candidate for the job.
Our unconscious biases create an unfair playing field for candidates, and this perpetuates inequality in the workforce. While human nature is hard to change, the first step in eliminating unconscious bias is to make yourself aware of your own biases and then challenge yourself to identify when you’re applying your own personal lens to a situation. To better understand your own unconscious attitudes, try the Harvard Implicit Association Test.
2. Soft skills matter more than you think
As organizations evolve, it’s the employees who demonstrate a high degree of soft skills, like emotional intelligence, persuasion, collaboration or adaptability that will help elevate the work of a team. In fact, 89 percent of people claim that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because the soft skills were lacking.
While it’s important to create questions in interviews that assess for technical skills, the soft skills evaluation should not be overlooked. When creating your interview questions, look at the high performers on your team and think about what soft skills they demonstrate. Create a list of both soft skills that make them successful, as well as the technical skills needed for a particular job, and make sure your questions are assessing both areas. Your time with a candidate in limited, so your questions should be targeted to hit the mark!
3. Your candidates should be treated like customers (even if they don’t get the job!)
The candidate experience is extremely important, not just for your talent pipeline, but for your company brand as well. In fact, a bad candidate experience can even cause people to stop engaging with a brand. So what does this mean for you as the hiring manager?
Consider how each of your touchpoints with candidates contributes to their overall experience, from the pre-interview phase, all the way through to the rejection or offer stage. Consider how you can make your candidate feel appreciated for giving you their time, even if they don’t get hired. Small acts like offering them water and taking their coat upon arrival, making sure they know how to prepare, giving them your undivided attention when meeting face to face, and providing them with constructive feedback if they don’t get the job goes a long way.
Imagine your candidates as potential clients in your sales pipeline. Just because they are not a fit today, doesn’t mean they can’t be converted in the future. It just takes one bad review to poison the well, so it pays both for your recruitment strategy, and also for your business, to make sure that everyone leaves your interview room feeling like a million bucks.
4. You likely won’t find that unicorn, so don’t drag on the process
While you may be reluctant to hire someone who doesn’t meet each one of your criteria, holding out for that perfect candidate could hinder you more than it will help. The top-performing candidates will be gone in ten days. However, the average Time to Fill rate is 36 days, according to the 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmark Report by SHRM.
Assess the amount of time it takes from the moment you post your job description to the point where you send out an offer, and see if there are any barriers that can be removed. For example, making a candidate go through multiple rounds of interviews on different days might discourage them from considering you as an option, as it may require them to take too much time off from work. Remember that while a great candidate might be considering your organization, they are probably considering other companies as well.
If you’re passing on or moving too slow with great candidates because they don’t meet your lengthy list of requirements, it may be time to re-evaluate whether you’re being realistic in your approach.
The best candidates understand that interviewing is a two-way street. As a hiring manager, you should do your best to assess the right candidates using meaningful criteria, and make sure you’re going that extra mile to ensure the process is as easy and humane as possible for potential new hires!