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Ignite your Hiring Skills

It is indeed possible to get good help these days!

By Brandie Weikle

Your team is beginning to grow. Or a key staff member is moving on. Here’s how to ensure you find the right person for the job and avoid costly mistakes.

Craft the job posting carefully: You won’t attract the right applicants if you don’t clearly define the role. Cynthia Richards, president and owner of Event Spectrum in Toronto, says she and her colleagues spend a lot of time on this crucial first step. “We craft it so they really understand the kind of experience and personality we’re looking for.” LinkedIn has been the most successful platform for them, but Career Builder and Simply Hired are also good.

Be choosy about who you interview: It’s tempting to schedule an unmanageable number of interviews to ensure you’ve covered your bases. “But if you’ve got 200 applicants and there’s only three that are close to what you’re looking for, only interview three,” says Kevin Renwick, president of Okanagan Staffing Services in Kelowna, BC. It’s better to refine your posting, try another job site and get some new resumes, than to waste time with the wrong candidates.

Ask the right questions: Then be quiet: One of the biggest mistakes employers make is in failing to ask the kinds of questions that will truly reveal if the fit is right, says Renwick. He advocates a method called behaviour-based interviewing to draw out anecdotes related to past performance. Asking a candidate to “describe your most successful sale and why it was so successful,” for example, will reveal a lot about their approach to business. While you may enjoy chatting about your business, you won’t find out much about the applicant that way, says Renwick. “The employer should talk no more than 30 per cent of the time.”

Hire on attitude, not just background: “Number one in all roles is that you have to have that attitude for service,” says Richards, who adds that two of her best hires were waiters. She also gauges attitude by whether or not the candidate has done their homework about the company and the industry.

Check references: It sounds basic, but too often employers don’t follow up on references, says Renwick. “They’re in a hurry, they interview somebody, they like them and they hire them,” he says. Taking the time to call those references will give you a much better feel for whether the candidate is the kind of worker they claim to be.

Listen to your gut: In 18 years of business, Event Spectrum made two hires that, in retrospect, were a mistake, says Richards. In the case of one, “everything on paper looked great” and they extended an offer. But that night, the hire sent an email with questions that “were not in keeping with our culture,” she says. Her instincts told her it wasn’t a fit after all. “The mistake was not listening to my intuition. I would have been much better off to rescind the offer.”

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