February 15, 2015
By Dave Braun
LO President

Dave Braun Just last month, we were expanding our production and needed to add to our team. The position that needed filling was entry-level, so instead of having people send in resumes that would require us to sort through them, we advertised a job fair at our company. Over 50 people showed up, and we had brief interviews with everyone.

After narrowing the field, we interviewed the candidates three different times. No less than three of our employees were involved in the interview process.  By the time we had selected these interviewees, we had already invested a great deal of time and energy in them. We grew to like each of them, and I would like to think, they grew to like us.

After the third round of interviews, I called their previous employers. To be clear, I didn’t call their “references,” because anyone can get a few names to speak well of them.

I continue to be amazed and appreciate how honest so many former managers will be. I once had an employer call me back while he was on vacation thousands of miles away, just to make sure I didn’t hire the person I interviewed. I still vividly remember getting this shocking feedback, because prior to this news, the candidate was one of the best I could remember.

In the hiring process for our labour position last month, the strongest candidate — someone who was used to physically-demanding work that required great attention to detail — was given a thumbs up by the supervisor, the manager and myself.  We then called the candidate’s references. Not only did this candidate have a bad habit of not showing up, he actually went AWOL and was never heard from again. I like to think that I have somewhat of a good read on people, but he gave good interviews to all three of us! So good, that we almost wanted to make excuses for him, but I knew we needed to listen to the facts.

One of the best examples of a thorough hiring process is found at Google. Google’s own website highlights (some would say warns) potential employees  about its stringent hiring process. Candidates are interviewed by a group of current Google employees, some of whom may be within the team the candidate may be working with and some from another team.

After the interview, a committee of Google employees ranks and rates the interviewee. From this point, according to one Google employee involved in the hiring process, only the “best” candidates perform two rounds of phone interviews, with only about “one in ten” passing this marker.

It’s been said that Google’s hiring rate is lower than the acceptance rate at Harvard and Yale, so it’s no surprise that if they fly to headquarters for an in-person interview, they’re very qualified. Again, right on Google’s website they state, “We believe that if you hire great people and involve them intensively in the hiring process, you’ll get more great people.”

The more thorough the hiring process we follow, the fewer “bad hires” we’ll encounter, even if we’ll can never eliminate them. Think for a moment. Have you ever hired the wrong person?  How long did it take you to move them out? As the saying goes, if you’re constantly talking about “managing somebody,” you’re probably managing the wrong “somebody.”

If putting a lot of effort into the hiring process seems like something you don’t have the time, energy or resources for, think about the alternative. There’s nothing more draining on your time, energy or resources than keeping poor employees, or eventually replacing them.
Dave Braun may be reached at dbraun@landscapeontario.com.