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Hiring For Keeps


I have daily conversations with many HR managers and department supervisors about staffing needs and challenges. These conversations all have a common denominator, “I’m searching for those candidates that offer quality performance, are committed to learning my industry, and will be dedicated employees for years to come.”  A fair and reasonable expectation, wouldn’t you agree?

The game of hiring “right” is, well, challenging.

I’d like to share a few recommendations for those new to the HR profession, who are learning to conduct successful interviews. My intent is not to sound as a “know it all” but to simply offer helpful tips so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls I myself have learned the hard way.  When we make a decision that does not turn out well, we learn what to change and how to do better the next time around.  After all, we are being evaluated by our management and executive team.  Our role in the recruiting and interviewing process for the organization is a direct reflection on our ability to “get it right the first time.”

Referrals: Look to your internal associates by asking your best employees for referrals; people associate with others who are similar to them professionally and personally. Word of mouth referrals are free!  Look for similarities among your best employees and hire candidates who possess similar attributes. Keep in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

Take time: When filling an urgent vacancy, take time to ensure you get the right candidate and not to hire in a hurry.  For candidates you really like, your interview should include more challenging questions. It is okay to be a little tougher!  Training time spent on someone who is not a fit and lacks the technical skills is costly to the organization. Consider engaging a staffing firm and utilizing supplemental staffing. This gives you the opportunity to invest the necessary time to ensure your interview process uncovers the right candidate and can help you avoid costly hiring decisions, all while still getting the job done in the meantime.

Hire for cultural fit and the right attitude:  The intangibles a candidate can bring to your organization are valuable! Focus on asking questions to help determine the candidate’s “soft skills” and “mind set” so they represent your organization in a way that aligns with your company mission and company cultural. Consider a candidate’s energy, creative thinking skills, reasoning, and problem solving skills.  While skills can be learned, it’s a challenge to change personality; it can make or break your company culture and unity among the team.

Listen and watch:  How a candidate responds is telling; listen to what is said and what is not said! This is key to providing insight. Does the candidate respond with direct answers that assume accountability and provide corrective action responses?  Do they answer and take ownership of responsibilities or respond with statements that start with I or we? Get candidates talking about their specific role within the team to uncover strengths and weaknesses.  Behavioral based questions are helpful to understand the traits of that individual. Read between the lines! Non-verbal body language and communication say a lot. Does the candidate present with a friendly and confident demeanor? How does the candidate respond when asked to complete a step in the interview process they did not expect? Do they object and question why?  A cooperative or non-cooperative response should help you ask more questions related to how they like to work within a team and guide you in making a decision.

Sure, the process is often too time consuming and not as easy as we would like to expect. Remember, “the game of hiring” will always have its nuances; however, in the end when you make smart hiring decisions, consider it a sweet success!

Angie Smathers, Celebrity Staff Senior Account Manager
Angie Smathers, Celebrity Staff Senior Account Manager

Angie Smathers
Angie Smathers began her career in 1998, with 2013 marking her fifteenth year in the staffing industry.  In her time with Celebrity Staff, she has established long term partnerships with companies of various industries that include medical offices, revenue cycle management, HR, legal, advertising agencies, call center, banking, and financial investment firms.  Angie has placed countless individuals who are starting out in their career path or assisted them in their career transition. She has successfully forged positive, lasting career paths by identifying high caliber candidates with top employers!

She is a member of the Lincoln Human Resources Management Association (LHRMA) and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.  In 2013, Angie attained C&A Industries’ company honor of achieving President’s Club for a fourth time. In her free time, Angie enjoys spending time with family, walking, traveling, and reading.

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