Listening to Tim Ferris interview renowned executive coach Matt Mochary on the Tim Ferris Show podcast was eye-opening. Mochary explained why most businesses have problems hiring the right team members. He suggested that businesses limit an initial interview to 15 minutes because most of the time, you know after 15 minutes if the candidate is not a good fit. However, if there is promise, the initial interview can continue for up to 30 minutes.
Noted HR consultant Ed Ryan describes a resume as a balance sheet without liabilities. What most companies fail to do is to uncover what those liabilities are before making a hiring decision. On resumes and during interviews, candidates can gush over accomplishments, work ethic, cultural fit and so on. Mochary explained that some people just know how to interview well.
To uncover the liabilities of candidates that you are considering hiring, Mochary suggested to do two things. First, describe the most unpleasant tasks and responsibilities associated with the position. Ask candidates how they would respond to clients who may publicly ridicule their performance or have unreasonable expectations. If your position is not a 9 to 5 job, let that be known – “How comfortable are you having to work 60 or more hours per week?” Every position has tasks and responsibilities that are not fun. Explain what they are to determine if your candidate will be comfortable or willing to perform those tasks and assume those responsibilities.
The second “ah ha” moment was Mochary’s guidance for determining how well the candidate actually performed in their previous positions. The mistake that most companies make in a small industry such as kitchen and bath design is to call colleagues they know at the candidate’s previous employer to determine how well they performed. The problem is that the person you may know at the firm may not have worked directly with your candidate or does not know a lot about them. Instead, Mochary recommends that you ask candidates to identify the name of every manager at every position that they have had in their career and ask the candidate if he/she would connect you to the manager for a reference. The burden is on the candidate to reach out to their previous managers to connect you with them. If the candidate is unwilling, then the recruitment process ends there. If they are willing, Mochary has found that former managers are forthcoming in assessments because the candidate made the introduction. This allows you to determine how well your candidate performed and if the manager would hire the person again. If the response is yes or no, ask why.
Once a candidate has passed the litmus reference test, it is up to the firm to sell the candidate on why the position you have available is in the candidate’s best interest. It is you job to sell your position, your corporate culture and the opportunity because in today’s tight labor market outstanding candidates will have more than one opportunity.