Few companies can claim to have managed to excite customers as much as Apple has. But, when Apple lost its Senior VP –Retail, Ron Johnson to poaching by J C Penney, his replacement John Browett only held the position for 9 months! Under Johnson, Apple was on top, with its Stores making $5647 per square foot ($2562 higher than the second best Tiffany’s, and 13.6 times more than Walmart’s $414/Sq.ft.). Suddenly Apple Stores failed to focus on building international presence, botched public relations, brought in new policies which upset customers and made the employees unhappy – all of which made it impossible for Browett to retain his job beyond 9 months.
The Apple example seems to be the norm today, with estimates that the average tenure of a CEO is under three years. And the problem is not isolated to the hiring of senior executives. This naturally makes one wonder if the recruitment process is always fraught with risk, and if it could be less error-prone and more reliable! After all, the cost of a wrong hire is never low and even the recovery will make a dent in the bottom-line, and require time and effort.
Human capital managers today have supposedly gained control over how they recruit people for a given role – with their lengthy and comprehensive descriptions of job title and role, and the strategy of enumerating the skills required to perform well in a role in thorough detail. Then they use psychometric evaluations to assess candidates on their loyalty, extroverted nature and patience and other pertinent attitudinal parameters, which are ‘must haves’ for that role. Then of course, the personal interview(s) – structured to demonstrate varying levels of intensity, complexity and depth in direct proportion to the importance and seniority of the role.
In spite of this rigor, we find recruiters (and boards) bemoaning the bad hires they have made as described above. Of course, bad interviewing practices will lead to a bad hire. An interviewer needs to be able to ascertain the candidate’s capability to meet critical performance requirements on the job.
Discerning the Qualities
The world out there seems to have this firm idea that an interviewer has an easy job. Generally, candidates alone get all the tips on dress code and etiquette, even up to advice on how to cook up plausible answers to questions about one’s strengths and weaknesses. An interviewer, whose primary activity is not recruiting, could end up with regret for not having a well-planned strategy in place, should they assume that all the preparation falls to the candidates only.
The recruitment activity starts with clearly defining the skills that are a ‘must have’ for the role. The next step requires a clear articulation of the type of candidate to fulfill the requirement. Tailor the short listing process to identify the most suitable among the candidates. It is not enough to know that the candidate has the necessary training and previous experience to meet the demands of the role. Never avoid the crucial question: is the candidate capable of doing what the job needs while also suiting the organization culture?
Some pointers to managers would include how to:
Some of these tips may help a recruiter to sail comfortably over the common interview hurdle, which takes the form of a candidate who interviews well but whose skills and work styles are inconsistent with the impression given during the interview.
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