Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Interviewing Smarter, Not Harder

We often talk about how expensive turnover can be for companies. It has been estimated that the cost of replacing a single employee can run up to 150 percent of that employee’s annual salary.
A lot of things factor into that estimated cost, not the least of which is the time commitment of those tasked with finding and hiring the replacement employee in the first place. The longer an opening remains unfilled, the more a company loses which makes refining your interview process a truly valuable endeavor.
Cut Your Applicant Pile Down: Far too many hiring managers make the mistake of leaving an opening posted for weeks at a time, accumulating hundreds of applications they then need to weed through.  For jobs that will be highly sought after, set an end date no more than two weeks out as the last day applications will be accepted. Then, create a list of “must haves” for the newly hired employee – and don’t hesitate to push resumes aside that do not adhere to that list. If you are still looking at a large pile of applicants after that process, add a few more “must haves” to your list and do it again. In the end, you should have no more than 10 to 15 applicants you are truly considering, depending on the job.
Start with Phone Interviews: Conduct brief phone interviews to get a feel for the applicants and an idea of who may be a good fit. Ask all the applicants the same questions, and be sure they are questions that relate directly to the job at hand. For instance, rather than asking these applicants over the phone what they believe their biggest strengths and weaknesses are, instead describe to them a difficult aspect of the job and ask how they would address those challenges. Consider the phone interview to be an extension of your earlier weed out process – this should be more about identifying the applicants that wouldn’t be a good fit, rather than about selecting the one who would.
Combine Interview Phases: A lot of companies conduct their interviews in phases. First, the applicant meets with a member of HR. Then, they meet with a hiring manager. Finally, they meet with the company president. Each of these rounds results in a reduction of applicants, and there may only be two or three who make it to the end. By combining some or all of those rounds into more of a panel interview, you can save company time and allow those interviewers to evaluate applicants as a team. Obviously, that may not always be possible – the company president may not have the time to sit in on the five interviews that make it past the phone interview round. But combining rounds one and two is usually doable – and your applicants will be appreciative of a more streamlined process.  

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