Avoiding trial and error recruiting

  • techUK techUK
    Thursday05Jul 2018

    Malcolm Milligan explains that selecting new staff by trial and error can become extremely costly and disruptive, however, there is a better way.

Malcolm Milligan explains that selecting new staff by trial and error can become extremely costly and disruptive, however, there is a better way.

Does this sound familiar?

Your latest new recruit has turned out to be a Jekyll and Hyde character. The articulate, charming, highly qualified individual you were so excited about winning from the competition has, in a few short weeks, created mayhem in your organisation.
Many of your long term and highly valued staff are threatening to walk out, your most valuable customers are in revolt - even your personal car parking space has been claimed by the newcomer. This cannot possibly be the same person who impressed you during the interviews, and you subsequently hired - or can it?

Selection errors like this are not only irritating and depressing, they are also very costly. You know only too well that if you were able to recruit the right people, first time, you would avoid all this unpleasantness and disharmony.

What’s the problem?

Learning by 'living with' and repeating past selection errors is just not a cost- effective way of running your business in the competitive and “fast forward in everything” commercial climate of today.

Hiring the wrong person can, and sometimes does, put small companies out of business. Even large organisations with highly qualified and very professional HR departments can make selection errors.

There are instances every year of multinational companies hiring a high-ranking executive who just did not fit in with the existing Corporate Ethos and, subsequently, suffering a huge dent in the bottom line as a result of the experience. Fees paid to head hunters, costs of 'settling in' the new person, and the final ignominy of having to pay the failed hire a huge severance payment. They may add up to millions in some cases.

So how could such things happen to you when you are so fastidious in checking references and chatting with previous employers of an individual? The candidate had all the relevant qualifications. They had exactly the experience you were looking for and their previous employer gave them first class written reference and a glowing verbal one. Oh! and don't forget the professionally crafted CV - they all often only serve to deceive.

Did you ask yourself, "Why then are they leaving"? "Why is their previous employer seemingly happy to let them go"? I think you will all know the answer to those questions.

When we buy expensive machinery, we ensure that the small print covers us against consequential loss in the event of mechanical failure. However, why then when recruiting staff do we allow ourselves to fail to take the necessary steps to protect us against making wrong hiring decisions.
Unfortunately, when we interview someone, we seldom see the person as they really are. These days candidates are able to be coached, so they are often more adept at the interview process than the interviewer. They become interview savvy and hide behind a well-constructed interview mask.

So, what can be done about it?

The business owners and business managers of today have a plethora of selection tools and instruments they are able to take advantage of - some are designed to help build you a defence against the interview savvy candidate.

Certain Psychometric instruments give you Advanced Candidate Knowledge (ACK), that is, they offer you an insight into the behavioural signature of the candidate before you meet them. The psychometric questionnaire should be completed in advance. You then have the advantage of much pertinent information prior to your interview, which allows you to set your agenda more precisely.

There are three Prime Categories of Psychometric Assessments - clinical, educational and occupational (usually a form of ‘DISC’-based assessment). They can and do vary dramatically in price, complexity and ease of use. They also vary in what they assess - ability, aptitudes and interests, attitudes and values, behaviour and personality (typically DISC), and knowledge and skills.

Some instruments are very deep, clinical psychological instruments, which require interpretation by highly qualified, experienced psychologists. If you have the time, the money and the need, they should of course be considered.

My personal view is, that if a management tool is to be of real and practical value, it must be scientifically proven, simple to operate and easy to administer. 

Using a DISC-based system

Over the years I have found DISC-based theory platforms to be the most suitable for my purposes. DISC measures four behavioural tendencies: Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). They are helpful because they are, in the main, unpretentious and may be used effectively (with appropriate training) by most levels of management. DISC theory-based profiling systems are amongst those most frequently used universally by industry and commerce.

Training in the use of any DISC-based instrument is vital so that maximum benefit may be enjoyed from these systems. This is usually available from the system vendor, however, finance for training purposes is often a more difficult sale to than the purchase of the original system software! The positive difference made by properly trained analysts, skilled in the use and interpretation of these instruments is immense.

There are a number of ways in which psychometric profiling instruments such as DISCUS may assist you:

  • As a part of your recruitment and selection procedure
  • As part of your assessment process
  • To help select team members for specific tasks
  • For individual career guidance and development purposes.
  • As part of a mentoring programme
  • For task and job profiling
  • To identify individual learning style and pace
  • To confirm employee job compatibility
  • For self-awareness and personal improvement by individuals
  • To identify the most appropriate management style for employees
  • To identify an individual's management style
  • For outplacement and redeployment purposes
  • Identification of response style to authority
  • Relationship management between individuals
  • Team building
  • Conflict management

And many more.

The sales recruitment process

I will now concentrate on the recruitment and selection process because finding and keeping good sales personnel is not an easy task. Getting it wrong and reflecting back on past selection errors can be a painful and embarrassing business. Unless you are a trained personnel professional, the entire recruitment process can be a pretty daunting task.

It would be foolhardy to suggest that any management tool, scientific or otherwise, could forever, solve the issue of recruitment and selection error, however, there are instruments which may help you reduce the failure rate. DISCUS is but one of a number of DISC-based instruments available. Just select the one which works best for you.

Where the Human Element is involved there can be no cast iron guarantees of success, however, I suggest that, if used with sensitivity and applied with professionalism psychometric instruments can fulfil a positive role in your business.

Using a psychometric profiling system

Suppose you want to recruit a good sales person.

The first step is to profile the specific sales role you have in mind. To do this it is useful to have input from the various types of people who will be in contact with the new job holder, including customers if appropriate. This will offer a 360-degree view of the position.

The actual profiling is done by completing a pro forma questionnaire about the purpose, role and function of the job. This takes about ten minutes and the results are then entered into the system.

A detailed report is produced immediately. If the report does not accurately reflect what you are looking for, there are a number of ways in which you may edit the results until the printout is exactly what you are looking for.

Once you have a report which you are happy with, you are ready to match candidates with the job role. If you are advertising for the vacancy you may find it helpful to refer to the text.

Now you are ready for your first candidate

Have the candidate complete the profile questionnaire (I would always select a sentence set questionnaire) before they meet with the interviewer. This is important to maintain as much objectivity as possible.

It is also very important to make the candidate aware that the completion of the questionnaire is NOT a test. They should be informed that there are no right or wrong answers, just their answers which will simply offer an overview of their personal style.

It will of course also give the interviewer a reliable agenda to follow.

The interviewer then considers the profile report and makes note of any points of significant interest which may have a bearing on the appointment. These may then be discussed in detail with the candidate.

The report will offer much information on things such as the candidate's decision-making style, learning style, organisation and planning style and interpersonal skills. It will also provide useful information about how the candidate really feels about their current or immediate past job.

Such systems DO NOT to my knowledge predict success. They do though identify fairly accurately the personal style and likely patterns of behaviour under differing circumstances. This information will certainly help to determine whether the candidate is a good fit for the corporate culture in general and the local team in particular.

Job detail feedback

You have now come close to the end of your series of interviews. You feel that you have explained in great detail just what the job entails. Now it is time to check to see how accurate a portrayal you gave of the job on offer.
You do this by asking the candidate, based upon the knowledge they now have, to complete a job profile questionnaire for the role they have been interviewed for.

Be prepared for a shock!

So often we believe we have accurately explained all the relevant facts to the new recruit, we also assume that they have been actively listening all of the time.

Sadly, often, they retain only a fraction of what is said and would go away with a completely distorted picture. By using this technique, you are able to cover off any misinterpretations and misunderstandings which would otherwise come back to haunt you both in the near future.


© 1999-2018 MSM Commercial Services 


Malcolm S Milligan FinstSMM has been involved in sales, marketing and human resources management issues for many years. After working for HM Customs and Excise straight from school, in 1962 he became a retail sales representative for a major computer stationery manufacturing company. Then in 1968 he joined the Life Assurance Industry as a self-employed salesman and over the next 24 years held Senior Branch Management and Regional Director posts.

Malcolm has helped to build and develop the careers of many hundreds of sales and management personnel over the years. Since his first introduction to psychometric profiling in 1968, he has closely studied many psychometric offerings. It was a natural progression for him to become highly active in this field of human resource management.

Malcolm S Milligan themsm@gmail.com Skype 'discmaster'

www.discuniversity.com www.msmadvisorpanel.com



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