Choosing who to hire goes far beyond simply reading a resume. However, a resume is in many ways the first impression. From an employer’s standpoint, both the resume and the interview are imperative in the hiring process. Even so, it should come down to more than just the resume and interview.
What are the best (and novel) strategies for evaluating people to hire? Common strategies include going step by step with the resume and interview, using a social interview to determine if the fit is correct, auditioning potential employees, and receiving input from others that have interacted with the candidate.
There are diverse ways in which candidates can be evaluated and chosen. The success of each strategy is often dependent on a few factors: company culture, industry, and position. To help determine which of the styles mentioned above work best for you, each method has been broken down and thoroughly explained in the following paragraphs.
The Resume and Cover Letter
When you stop and think about the resume as the first impression, there are a number of things that might jump out at you. Learning how to read a resume is more than simply looking at someone’s experiences and skills, but discovering their desire for this position. Understanding how to read a resume starts with one factor: attention to detail.
As a potential employer, the first action that you should take in looking at resumes is if there are any glaring mistakes on the page. Are there misspellings, grammatical errors, or formatting issues? It may seem rash, but mistakes like these will often lead the resume to the trash before the qualifications are even read. Why? A resume with simple errors leads the employer to believe that the candidate had no interest in ensuring that the document was of good quality.
A mistake-riddled resume also makes it seem as though the employee makes frequent errors on important tasks or does not possess the knowledge to find such mistakes. For example, if a candidate has a college degree, yet submits a resume littered with spelling blunders, an employer might question the legitimacy of said degree. It also gives off the impression that the potential employee is lazy.
If a resume were to make it past the first step, the second aspect that should be considered is the number of jobs within a period of time and any gaps in employment history. If a candidate presents a resume that shows 6 jobs in the last 2 years, it is likely that the person, if hired, would stay with the company for a long period of time. No employer wishes to put in the time, energy, and cost of training an employee only to see them leave a few months later.
A gap in a potential employee’s history can mean any number of things. Perhaps they took a few years off to be home with their children or took a year to write a novel. Whatever the reason, the gap on a resume can be a deterrent. This is because a gap in employment can also signal a prison stay, a drug addiction, or any number of bad character traits.
Because an employment gap could mean anything, it is something to be wary of. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the resume should be tossed solely because of that reason. If the other aspects of the resume up to this point are of value, move it onto the next step.
A good resume will include, at the least, a header, objective, education, experiences, and skills. Focus in on the objective next. Determine if the candidate’s career goals line up with what you are searching for. Then, examining the history and skills can be done knowing that this person has qualified up to this point.
If these qualifications are reached, it is a big positive for many employers if the applicant has taken the time to write a personalized cover letter. It is usually easy to tell if the candidate has written a generic cover letter and reused it 100 times in their search for a job. Those typically do not describe the position that they are applying for and why they would be a good match. They also fail to add any personal details like the company’s mission statement or specific tasks that are relevant.
A cover letter that gets interviews is one that addresses the hiring manager by name. It starts with why this person would benefit the company and goes into his or her qualifications. It has personality and details regarding the specific position to which they are applying. An applicant that provides a well-written cover letter is often given points for doing so.
Evaluating a resume (or hundreds) can be a daunting task. After filtering out those that don’t make the initial cuts, an employer might narrow down the candidates to a reasonable number to interview. It can be smart to use social media to assist with the narrowing down of possible employees. By finding him or her on a social media platform, an employer can determine if the person might align with the company values prior to a wasted interview. Deciding how to interview applicants is largely in part determined by the company culture.
Standard Interview vs. Social Interview
A lot of employers today stick with the standard interview process. They call the applicant to set up a time, they come to the office, and the interviewer and interviewee sit across from one another asking and answering questions. While this method has been in place for a long time, it is not the only option.
A company that has established a culture that gives off a modern vibe and has a tight-knit group of employees would do better with a social interview. A social interview is often in a casual setting, such as a restaurant or coffee shop. Many employers include a variety of team members - from senior staff to the new guy - in a social interview. This allows the person in charge of hiring to see how the candidate interacts with a range of people. The applicant can also be judged based on how they treat the wait staff, how he or she makes decisions (such as ordering a meal), and if they treat others differently based on status.
Some employers take a social interview as far as putting the “beer test” to work. This is a simple way of evaluating candidates based on who would be better to get a beer with. Studies have shown mixed results on this test, as it blurs the line between employee and employer, discriminates against sober applicants, and can leave the office filled with variations of the same person.
The beer test is as novel as it gets for evaluating people for hire. It can be a great way to hire candidates with impressive communication skills. If the beer test is physically put to the test by taking the candidate out for a night on the town, the lines of employee and employer get confusing. In many offices, it is essential that the HR manager or senior staff is not just a buddy that employees go drinking with. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be a friendship there, but drinking alcohol together right off the bat makes things confusing.
Furthermore, the question has been presented: what if the candidate doesn’t drink? It makes it hard to imagine getting a beer with a person that is against alcohol or wouldn’t fit into your drinking group. Those factors don’t mean that the person is a bad employee, it merely means that he or she doesn’t spend time in bars.
Lastly, judging potential employees based on if the hiring manager would go drinking with them would likely mean all hires would be similar. Because of the positive impact of diversity on productivity, it is not a good idea to hire 12 copies of the same person. That can also cause legal trouble when someone fails to get the job because he or she wasn’t like all of the other employees.
While social interviews can be a fun and hip way to interview, some industries find better candidates with an old fashioned interview. There are many types of people that would be uncomfortable with the social interview. Also, a position or overall industry that requires little interaction with others would have no need for it.
Another fun strategy for evaluation is to get the applicant to talk about something that they are genuinely passionate about. It can tell an employer a lot about the candidate - specifically if they have a passion for something at all. In many cases, that passion can be redirected into his or her work. If there is no passion in their tone of voice when discussing this topic, it can be hard to imagine that they will have a feeling of excitement about any of their work.
Whichever interview style is chosen, it determines how a candidate might respond to situations, how he or she communicates, and if they have the previous experience necessary to do the current job well. Being prepared for the interview means understanding precisely what is needed to do the job well. This often means defining specific personality traits, situational experiences, and education. Beyond that, it may take seeing the candidate in action to make a decision.
Audition for Employment
Whether an employer uses the interview time for an audition or calls the candidate for a second interview, it is a good idea to give the applicant something to do so that you can have an idea of the quality of work that he or she does. This does a few things for employers: determines if the candidate is still interested in the position and checks their qualifications.
While the specific task that you ask of a person is dependent on the type of company, position, and time allotted, it can be incredibly eye-opening for both the employer and the candidate. The applicant will have a glimpse into what he or she will actually be doing. This can help them to decide if the position is truly for them.
Let’s say the applicant is attempting to get a position as an editor. By providing a written article, the hiring manager can ask that the person give some commentary. Make it more challenging by putting a time limit on it, such as to provide three comments on the article in 90 seconds. Tasks like these will give the employer a better evaluation.
An extended way to evaluate potential employees is to have a trial period. A trial period is similar to a probation period. Many employers hire on a freelance basis for a few tasks to see if the employee meshes well with the company and its culture. After the trial period is over, the employer can then decide if the company would benefit from hiring the candidate in a full-time capacity.
Anyone can write anything on a resume. They might even have a reference that says that the skill they wrote on their resume was the truth. While that can be convincing, it is hard to tell if that skill is up to par with an employer’s needs unless it is put to the test. Rather than discovering that he or she was not up to the task after hiring, an audition is an ideal way to dodge that bullet.
There are so many factors that can influence a person’s opinion of another. In some ways, that is a good thing for employees, in other ways, not so much. By taking consideration of multiple influencers, a company has a better chance of hiring the right candidate.
An applicant may seem perfect to a hiring manager. He or she had a perfect resume and cover letter. Their social media accounts were appropriate and aligned with company values. They aced the interview, and every reference panned out. The candidate even wrote a thank you note after the interview. The hiring manager, however, failed to see what that particular candidate did in the parking lot before his or her interview. If first impressions are not discussed with other members of staff prior to hiring, the hiring manager may never know.
It is that reason that outside influencers should play a part in potential employee evaluations. Ask other employees about their impressions. An employer might also have two separate interviews with two different interviewers or interview with a single person at first and then a panel next. By allowing interaction between a variety of people, a company can get several opinions. Those opinions can help to determine who is truly the best fit for the job.
Another way to encourage varied interactions is to place an employee in the waiting area prior to the interview. The current employee could act as though he or she was another interviewee or someone not associated with the company and strike up a conversation. A lot can be learned about an applicant when they are not being put on the spot.
A lower level employee might also give the applicant a tour of the facility. How the candidate treats that employee will likely say a lot about how they see coworkers in general. Do they treat people with respect and kindness only when they feel that they have to impress them? Or is kindness the applicant’s go-to treatment? It can be revealing when you place a potential employee in an area where they do not feel as though they are under a magnifying glass. This makes evaluation clearer.
By taking stock of outside influences, a hiring company can see candidates from multiple angles. It is essential to see more than just what potential employees want hiring managers to see. Including all known factors in the decision to hire a person can expose more truths and attempts at manipulation, yet can also bring to light qualities that can make a positive impact on the business.
How long should the hiring process take? Many companies might fear that they will lose quality candidates if the hiring process takes too long. This is why it is recommended that the process take 2-4 weeks.
What are the best ways to recruit employees? It is best to use a variety of platforms: college job fairs, social media, and online job boards are just a few. The variety will give companies diversity and potential employees that are qualified in different ways.