Is it difficult for you to find and fill positions in your company? Or have you ever wished you had a better way of selecting a candidate who would fit your culture?
Here we uncover 4 ways to improve how you hire.
1. Start with your company vision, mission, and values.
Do you have your vision, mission, and values written, shared, and lived out? “In matters of choosing team members and keeping team members engaged, the most valuable lesson we’ve learned is that company culture trumps everything else ,” says Jeff Annis, President at Advanced Services, Inc., a pest control company in Augusta, Georgia.
A candidate might have all the right skills and experience on paper, but if they won’t fit with your culture, then they are not a good addition to your firm.
From the start, it is important that your candidates know your mission, vision, and values. If you can show them behaviors within your culture that reflect these values, then aim to do so. By sharing your compelling “why,” you are using your culture as a tool for recruitment. It also helps those who are a right fit to begin to buy into your vision of the future.
Taking the time to communicate the “why” behind the business, and the values your company upholds should help in filtering out the wrong candidates. “ Not every person is a good fit for every company culture, and that’s okay,” adds Jeff.
2. Proactively communicate with the candidate.
You can make vastly better decisions about a person once you start to see how they consistently communicate with you or other leaders in the company.
“Most positions will require excellent people skills, and chief among those skills is the ability to communicate verbally and through composing a message,” explains Jeff. In many cases, proactive communication before an offer is made can also help you see a candidate’s ability to use technology.
How well are they able to express themselves? How fast are they able to respond—and does that fit with your cultural expectations? Communicating by phone and email can provide one more signal to you about how this person will later communicate with colleagues and customers.
3. Test early or use proven assessments.
While it’s not always possible, when you can, ask applicants to take assessments even before their initial interview. “When you do so, you’ll want to link assessment results to the position description so that your deliberations are sound regarding your hiring decisions,” says Jeff.
In other scenarios where skills need assessment, consider doing a small, paid project with the person to evaluate their ability to do the work and to do it professionally and on-time. Keep things objective and use the same kind of scorecard for every candidate who goes through any assessment or “test.”
If neither of these methods are appropriate, consider job shadowing before you make an offer, says Jeff. “For both field and office personnel, we require any finalist to shadow someone holding a similar position. This helps the candidate understand our expectations, operations and culture, and gives us the opportunity to gauge how well this person might fit within the organization.”
Even if a candidate’s credentials and resume appear to be what you are looking for, if you have a nagging feeling something isn’t quite right, trust your instinct. “When we’ve hired employees in spite of our doubts, we have inevitably been disappointed in some aspect of their performance down the road,” shares Jeff.
Jeff once had an applicant that was a fit for the position in every way. “Except one thing nagged at my gut,” says Jeff. The candidate had come from a situation where he worked his way up from entry level—a job he had started in his late teens—to a position of high responsibility. In doing so over a 20-year period at the same company, the candidate had commanded an impressive salary.
“His starting pay at our company would be about 50 percent less than he was making when he was laid off.”
Jeff learned that the industry the candidate was leaving was experiencing some shrinkage. “His take was that he was tired of working for a giant ‘Wall Street type’ of company. He got me to think that he wanted to work in a more hometown environment. I was also attracted by the fact that he had stuck to it so long in his previous position,” explains Jeff.
Jeff’s gut was telling him that this candidate would jump back into that industry as soon as a new spot became available. “My gut told me that he was used to making much more money, and that was a hard habit to break. I went against my gut with the rationale that I shouldn’t hold it against him that he had become successful in the past job,” explains Jeff.
“I decided that I would not want to be discriminated against in this manner if it were me on the other side of this situation,” he adds.
After almost a year of training and onboarding his new hire, a separate job, similar to his prior position, opened up. It’s no surprise the alternative position also came with the higher pay, too—and the new hire turned in his two-week notice. “I was not surprised. While the relationship with the person hired was excellent, it still was a negative experience for our company.”
If they had hired the right person instead of who they hired, that person would most likely still be with the company, and would be on the way to being a profitable team member. A mistake like this cost the company around $20,000 (in terms of what it costs to recruit, hire, on-board and initially train a new team member). “If you make too many of these mistakes, you won’t be profitable,” adds Jeff.
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Special thanks to Jeff Annis, President at Advanced Services, Inc. who provided insights for this article. This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.