Your business is successful, and you want to keep it that way.  How do you determine a candidate’s fit for the position and your company? 

What is the impact to your company if you hire a “Bull in the china shop?”  Worse, what is the impact if you hire someone who interviews well – and their current company is delighted for them to leave because they are passive/aggressive and destroy trust?

How Do You Determine Best Cultural Fit?

A “Cultural Fit” means nothing if your company is not doing the proper due diligence from the beginning of the Talent Attraction Process. An inaccurate job description sources a pool of the wrong fit candidates. That pool of the wrong fit candidates who are interviewed by a manager who has never formally been taught how to effectively interview leads to a poor fit for the position.

In my 39 years of professional recruitment experience, there are three primary methods to determine cultural fit.

  1. The candidate was introduced to one of your executives or managers by someone they trust because the person who made the introduction knows who is best for your culture. 
  2. The candidate worked with one of your employees in their recent past.  Your employee felt the candidate was a top performer and would fit your company’s culture well.
  3. Numbers one and two also help your business to land top performers who normally would bypass your company because of the requirement to complete an application prior to a conversation to determine Mutual Interest.
  4. Create an effective reference check and ensure the Hiring Manager completes this final due diligence prior to bringing the person on board.

Oh No! Not a Reference Check!

Since the first two methods of determining best fit introduce candidates from trusted sources, we must discuss the dreaded reference check.  First, why is it dreaded? 

One way to determine if a manager is a top performer is to watch them through the interviewing process.  Are their questions spot on?  Do they ask probing questions when a statement does not ring true?  Are they the ones who conduct the reference check? (May I add, when allowed??)  Yes!  They complete their due diligence prior to allowing that new person to join their top performing team.

Should all managers follow their example?  Yes.  According to Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace, only 33% of Frontline Managers – and worse, 45% of executives are Engaged in Their Jobs!  Someone has some house cleaning to do…and upgrade staff to become more productive and profitable.

What Should I do If the Candidate’s Company Does Not Allow Managers to Comment?

This is a common problem.  As a recruiter with 39 years of experience, my clients have experienced this issue many times.  The following recommendations will assist you:

  1. Tell each candidate that you will not contact their references prior to an accepted offer. However, they Will Be required to submit 3 references you may call who can discuss their performance.  It could be someone who left the company and is working elsewhere. 
  2. Offer to call the reference in the evening, outside of their office.

If a candidate cannot give you references, it is time to move on.

What Questions are best to determine fit for a Position?

For a professional position, it is wise to structure questions based on the skills and experience need to be successful in the position.  Once you have completed that section, ask the following questions:

  1. What frustrates Kevin?  How does he show his frustration?
  2. If I were Anna’s manager, what is the best way to manage her?
  3. What would I need to watch for?  Many times the reference will ask what I am looking for.  I simply tell them “It’s an open question.  Not looking for anything specifically…”

Who Should Conduct the Reference Check Interviews?

Without a doubt, the Hiring Manager should check the references.  They own the 4 Knows:

  1. Know the duties required to be successful
  2. Know the goals for the first 12 months
  3. Knows who was successful in the Past – and who was not
  4. Knows Their Culture

Recruiters, including me, know a little about a lot of jobs.  We don’t know much about this one.

Sometimes, Human Resource professionals look at me with terror when I tell them it is the Manager’s responsibility.  They say, “We could get sued!”  If that is the case, that particular manager could get you sued for many reasons – best to let them go – or train them.  A Reference check is Nothing more than an Interview with the same constraints.

And if you decline to conduct the reference check interview, you will miss one of the most interesting responses – the Reference LAUGHS OUT LOUD when they hear who used them as a Reference. I have experienced this 4 times over my career. References are not automatic approvals.

Check references – and your candidate selection will improve.

My skills will help your company improve your Talent Attraction processes.  Top Talent will increase company Productivity and Profitability!

I help organizations Recruit, Onboard, Actuate, and Retain Top Talent.

Bill Humbert is available for Speaking, Talent Attraction Consulting, and Training contracts.  435-714-4425

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