By: Bill Wednieski
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the average turnover rate in the U.S. is about 12% to 15% annually. That means a company will lose between one in six or eight employees each year. (In your next staff meeting try not to wonder about who could leave looking around at your team’s faces whether you are in person or on Zoom.) Some companies and some industries have turnover rates even higher, and the impacts of the Covid-19 on employment trends have been far from equal (e.g. restaurants, airlines, entertainment). You don’t have to spend too much time on Google to determine the cost of turnover is high, ranging from 33% to nearly 200% in a fairly recent Deloitte study.
Reduce the likelihood of those high turnover rates affecting your company by hiring well in the first place. Read on for some game-changing hiring practices to try the very next time you make a hire.
Plante Moran and the Golden Rule
Over 15 years ago, I joined the accounting firm Plante Moran as an experienced hire. This was non-typical for Plante Moran as the firm generally does such an outstanding job with on-campus recruiting, and then retaining staff. The firm really doesn’t need to hire many experienced candidates often.
Plante Moran had many sayings like being “relatively jerk-free,” and when you started at the firm in your welcome packet was a short golden ruler to remind you to live by the golden rule. The firm spoke to its values which they came right out and told you were based on Judeo-Christian values. The origin of the golden rule comes from Jesus saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So simple, yet so many accounting firms and companies have tried and nobody can replicate Plante Moran’s success in candidate recruiting and retention. To this day I am eternally grateful for my time at the firm and so many lessons learned, including behavioral based interview training for on-campus recruiting.
Try it: Make your values loud and clear, from the first connection with a candidate.
Start with Screening
In many ways, campus recruiting and entry level hiring is child’s play when it comes to what we typically do at The Headhunters finding seasoned executives and experienced managers. For college hires there generally is little or no relevant work experience, so the focus is on GPA and softer skills when you eventually interview them. Delightful, competent and qualified people that really want to work for you tend to stand out super quickly regardless of experience level. For experienced hires it starts with knowing what you are looking for, sourcing your candidates then qualifying your candidates.
- Has the candidate done this job before and in my industry?
- Is the candidate’s college degree relevant to the role I would be hiring them to do?
- Resume review. Is the resume well done? Are they a job hopper? Are the job titles appropriate? What are the sizes and reputations of the companies they worked for?
Try it: Know the experience level of the person you’re entering into a conversation with – and have prepared questions for a quick screening.
Time to Interview
So, now that you have sourced and screened competent, qualified candidates, you need to interview them. Note: your interview process should be designed and decided up front. We have clients that do one-and-done interviews in a single round, and some that do as many as five rounds of interviewing. (Five is too many but that’s a topic for another day).
When the interview begins let the candidate know you will be taking some notes and you may be quiet at times. Start off by maybe saving yourself and the candidate some time with some softball questions that are frankly knock-out questions. Why are you interested in this role? Why do you want to leave X? What made you want to be a financial advisor / accountant / supply chain specialist? Asking experienced candidates to take a few minutes walking you through their career is helpful. Be quiet and listen. FYI – I frequently have interviews that are less than 5 minutes.
I don’t think it matters much if you use values-based or behavioral-based interviewing. To be clear, behavioral-based interviewing focuses on a candidate’s past experiences by asking candidates to provide specific examples of how they have demonstrated certain behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities. Values-based interviewing focuses on why and how candidates make choices, so you can gain insight into how the candidate would solve your challenges and ideally whether the candidate’s values align with your organization. Frankly, I ask both values and behavioral-based questions depending on the client, role, and criteria from the hiring manager.
Try it: Be quiet and truly listen to what the candidate is telling you about themselves.
What Questions Do You Have?
Heads up, great candidates are interviewing you too. I am a straight up sucker for well-prepared candidates that do their research. Cheesy and cliche questions that came from a candidate’s quick Google search can kill it. This is the interviewer’s opportunity to open their mind and learn something or reflect on an issue differently. For example, I’m working with a client that has an ERP implementation not going well (bad data integrity and lousy user acceptance). A candidate that asks, “Have you ever tried this bolt-on product X to scrub, test and synthesize your data?” This just might make a light bulb go off for the hiring manager. A true subject matter expert is probably smarter than you are, and as Apple’s founder Steve Jobs said, “we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Try it: Have high standards about how a candidate answers this question.
Fit, Visualization and Values
One overlooked outcome from Covid-19 is that so much is done remotely now with some companies doing their entire interview process remotely. Virtual work is a blessing and a curse. I have deeply missed all the coffees and lunches I used to have with candidates and employers. (Face-to-face is one of the things we did and can’t wait to do again, and that sets The Headhunters apart). There is zero substitute for playing golf or going fishing with somebody for a couple hours. Spending time with key hires is so helpful for employers to determine fit and values. I also believe if the job is not remote or expected to be remote then candidates need to see the workplace to visualize working there.
Try it: If the job won’t be remote, safely find a way to bring the candidate on-site before you decide to hire them.
Great hiring isn’t complicated, but it is intentional. Like washing and patching walls, and taping off trim, the prep work is really what makes a superior outcome when painting a room. In hiring, the prep, through an intentional hiring process like we describe above, is really what makes a superior outcome in finding the right person to join your team.
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