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Hiring the Right Person

By Bill Griffith

 

The process for hiring a new employee can be difficult and time consuming; usually takes a lot of preparation and work; and, depending on the position, can have major ramifications for your staff. Having a plan and outlining the steps will go a long way toward being successful. The following are some steps that will hopefully cause you to think about the hiring process a little differently.

 

Determine what you need

What are your strengths? How do you spend your time? What are your weaknesses? Try not to duplicate your weaknesses in a new hire. Hire someone who is strong in areas that you are weak. Hire capabilities, not credentials or qualifications. “This guy must be good; he worked at major league ball club and has a master’s degree from Penn State.”

Should you use a job description as part of the hiring process? You are hiring a 3D person, so be careful about using a 2D resource. How important are the qualifications? How do qualifications, certifications, prior education, etc., fit into the role you are looking for the hire to fulfill?

How important is the attitude? Maybe the key is, “It’s not what you know, but what you are willing to learn.” Be very clear about your expectations. What role are you looking for this person to have on a day-to-day basis? Is hiring Superman really possible? Move from the conceptual to reality. Are you looking for the right person, or a resume? How do character, personality, prior education, etc., rank in importance in a new hire? What do you think the future goals should be of the person for whom you are looking? Is this a long-term position, transitional or career-building?

Make a list of the capabilities you seek. Things like qualifications, certifications, prior experience, attitude, communication skills and teachability might be some areas at which to look. Prioritize those capabilities.

 

Determine how to interview

Select the interviewer(s): In addition to the immediate supervisor, there may be individuals with whom the candidate will interact who should also be part of the interview and selection process.

Identify selection criteria: The interviewer(s) should review the responsibilities of the position and reach agreement on what education and experience requirements are necessary, as well as the required behavioral qualifications (e.g., communication skills, teamwork, and customer service).

Review cover letters/resumes/applications: Using the selection criteria, the interviewer(s) should carefully review the application materials to determine which candidates should be interviewed.

Develop appropriate questions: The interviewer(s) should develop job-related questions that will be asked of all applicants to probe their education, level of related experience, and other attributes required for the position. One great strategy is to look at other companies that have top performers and learn what makes them top performers. We network with our peers about other practices, why not hiring? What are the key factors you are trying to discover? Select and prioritize the key things you are looking for in a new hire. What are the key factors you need to disclose? What are the key things about your organization and you that you need to disclose to endure a good fit?

 

Asking the right question

Here are some good general questions:

  • What do you expect from a manager? What can a manager do to help you stay motivated?
  • Tell me about a situation where you were able to have a positive influence on the actions of another person? What did you do?
  • How do you motivate yourself to do something you don’t find enjoyable or really don’t want to do?
  • What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you handle it?
  • Have you ever dealt with a manager’s policy you weren’t in agreement with? How?
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor? How?

 

Questions that help determine attitude

  • What kind of people have you found it difficult to work with? Why?
  • Describe a situation where you were in the wrong, and others knew it. What did you do?
  • Tell me about an instance where you had to work with an angry user. What was the problem? How did you resolve it?
  • What has caused the most pressure for you in a work situation? What did you do about it?

 

Questions that help determine personality

  • What circumstance brings you here today?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • What would you say are your two greatest weaknesses?
  • Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to throw a very abstract question into the interview to see how the person responds, such as “Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?”

 

Questions that help determine leadership

  • What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
  • Describe the best boss you have had. How would you define the qualities of a good manager?
  • Tell me about a leadership experience that did not go as planned.
  • Describe some of the circumstances under which a leader can fail.

 

Questions to help determine work ethic

  • Who is the most successful person you know in our industry, and why do you think he/she is successful?
  • Describe your work ethic.
  • How many hours a week do you think you need to get your job done?
  • Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have enough work to do? What did you do?

 

Bill Griffith (pictured) is a turf management instructor and advisor at Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, Wash.

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