There are 2 Decisions Made with Every Hire

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on January 6, 2009, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…


There are 2 Decisions Made with Every Hire

We are continuing our job-hunting discussions on Say “Alaka‘i” this week” some help for managers who do interviews today: There are 2 Decisions Made with Every Hire

And whichever chair you might be sitting in, you only get to make one of them.

I always ask managers to make a big deal out of hiring, for it IS a big deal: It’s important to the person applying for a position, and it’s important to the organization. When hiring is done right, everything else seems to fall into place too. Conversely, a hiring mistake is one which will often cost you for an awfully long time. For a manager, selecting the people who will work on their team is one of the most critical decisions they make.

However it’s important to understand that the manager doing the hiring only gets to make one out of the two decisions to be made.

The hiring manager gets to make the first one: Will I make a job offer to this candidate or not?

However, the candidate receiving the job offer gets to make the second decision, and I’d argue that’s the one which is actually much more important in the grand scheme of things. The candidate gets to decide if they accept the offer, or keep looking for something else.

Decision #1 is about the job offer.

Decision #2 is about the job acceptance or rejection.

Do you know what the biggest hiring disappointment is?

It’s when a manager gets his or her heart set on a terrific prospect, excitedly makes an offer, and then gets this response: “Thank you very much for the offer, however I’ve decided to take another position with a different company.” When that candidate had left the interview, they weren’t excited enough and the manager completely missed seeing the signs.

Here’s another disappointing scenario, and a more costly one.

The candidate accepts, but within six months to a year they start looking for another position to trade up to, whether inside the company or with another one, because “the job just didn’t pan out to be all that I thought it would be.” The basics might have been covered in an interview, but basics are not enough: What are the reasonable expectations with growth, progression, and future change? A candidate can’t leave an interview guessing, wishing and hoping, but still unsure.

Managers often forget about these less fortunate possibilities, and they neglect to use the interview time wisely. They drill the candidates they interview, ready with question after question that has to do with their job offer, but if that candidate is to be considered, have they had the time to interview the manager about the organization? Have they asked the questions you hope they are interested in, about vision, mission, and values (beyond product, service, skills and knowledge), so that if they are hired, they are completely aware of all they have signed up for?

If you conduct interviews…

…cut the time you allocate for it in half, allocating each half to covering the conversation required for each of those two decisions. Be sure the candidate asks questions of you: You want them to be inquisitive, you want to know how much homework they’ve done researching your company, and you want to be able to gauge both their interest and anticipation of the job’s requirements.

Too-short interviews astound me: I fail to see how anyone can interview a candidate for less than a full hour, and besides, it’s somewhat disrespectful ”“ I don’t care what the position is all about, an interview is a big deal, and it should be treated as such.

Equally mortifying to me is when candidates are scheduled for two or three interviews and you can barely tell them apart at all: There is no progressive conversation planned, and the same questions are asked over and over again, just by different people. Do you really expect them to change their answers?

One more suggestion:

Tell the candidate that you fully realize they have a decision to make too, and that if the interview results in an offer being made, you hope they will make the right decision, for it’s important to you both. Start the interview that way, laying out the expectation for the conversation to follow. Your company cannot be all things to all people: Hiring decisions are about fit, and you might have a great person applying for a position who is not a great candidate for the role they’ll need to fill. Tell them you’re assuming they’ll be honest with you, and you want their partnership so that you both get that puzzle piece on fit placed correctly for both your sakes.

The best strategy a manager can have when preparing for an interview is to assume you ARE going to hire that person. Think of that interview as setting the tone for every conversation you will have with them on each working day going forward: Work on the interview together and establish a relationship of partnership from the get-go.

Worst case scenario you don’t make an offer, and they tell everyone else how exceptionally they were treated anyway. And you never know when a candidate will leave you stating that they are not a good fit for a job opportunity, but they know someone else who is…

This past Sunday we talked about a different scenario…
You’re the applicant, and you’re hoping to secure a management or leadership position: Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch.