Corporate Eye

Hiring is Hard Work

“In a perfect world, you would take pride in the fact that you hired someone who is better than you. Hardly anybody has that attitude, though.”

That’s a quote from noted entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki, who talked about hiring in an interview for The New York Times “Corner Office” series.  His contention:  A players hire A+ players, while B players hire C players.  The best people are self-confident, while lesser people “hire down” to ensure they will look better than their employees.

Kawasaki also notes that people tend to see their own specialty as extremely difficult, but suppose that all the other jobs are really easy.  So engineers may demand brilliance from engineers, but at the same time may not think it matters much who’s in charge of marketing or finance.

It’s hard to combat those tendencies in persons, but at least you can take a look to see if there’s a lack of balance in job descriptions.  For example, someone may put a lot of thought and detail into the description for a job they see as important, while barely sketching a job they don’t think of as difficult.  Similarly, a B player might downgrade education qualifications and experience if they are looking for a non-threatening hire.

It would also be worthwhile to review the Careers site with the same aim in mind.  Are all positions at all levels treated fully and fairly?  Are all career paths, departments, and product lines accorded equal treatment?

Another important aspect of the hiring process is highlighted in the Recruiter Daily article Make Better Candidate Recommendations.  Recruitment trainer Ross Clennet favors behavior-based, structured interviewing techniques, and contends that recruiters should be able to offer specific , fact-supported assessments rather than impressions drawn from unstructured conversations.

In case “behavior-based interviewing” doesn’t ring a bell, there’s a nice summary at About.com’s Job Searching portal.  Short version:  It’s an approach that focuses on questions about “how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations,” and it’s based on the idea that “how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future.”  Example questions might include “Can you tell me about a time when you used logic to solve a problem,” and “Describe a situation in which you had to implement an unpopular decision.”

This method has passionate supporters and detractors.  Many interviewers use a combination of structured and unstructured questions, combining specific information with intuition.  But in terms of relevance for the corporate Careers site—information about steps in the hiring process and tips on interviewing make excellent website features.  Not only will the online info help candidates, the company is likely to benefit from clarifying its hiring approach.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
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