Have you ever suffered from BSS? Body Snatcher Syndrome? You know it. It works like this:
You THINK you’ve done everything right in the interview process and you THINK you’ve found the right person for the job, but somehow between the interview and the first day of work, the person you hired is body snatched and replaced by an alien and you’re left scratching your head wondering what happened. Too often, employers blame applicants for BSS, but the reality is, it’s your interview process that’s failing and causing you to hire the wrong person.
Here are seven big mistakes you might be making that will cause you to hire the wrong employees:
1. Your job descriptions are outdated.
You can’t begin to identify what knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics an applicant would need to have to be successful in a position if you don’t know what the position really entails. If your job descriptions are outdated and don’t reflect current major duties, then not only can you NOT find the right applicant, but you’re basically lying to your applicants about the job they’re applying for. And no, you can’t use the “all other duties as assigned,” clause to cover yourself. Major activities and responsibilities that make up the bulk of the employee’s time at work must be spelled out in the job description.
2. Your job announcement reads like a wanted poster instead of an ad that will attract the right candidate.
Wanted: Administrative Assistant. Must have 5 years experience. Must be willing to work long hours. Must work weekends. Must hate job within the first 2 days of employment.
Wow! I can’t wait to apply for that gem of a job!
What you should be doing instead is providing positive information and incentive for that great person you’re looking for to respond to your ad. Make it exciting, make it creative, make it attract the “right fit” people. However, in doing so, be honest. If you overinflate how great the job or your company is, the employee will likely quit within a few weeks of being hired when he or she realizes the job isn’t what you said it was.
3. You’re still asking the same tired, useless questions you’ve been asking for 20 years.
YOU: “What do you think is your greatest weakness?”
APPLICANT: “I am so dedicated to my job, I sometimes forget to go home at the end of the day.”
Ever wonder why the vast majority of your applicants know the RIGHT answer to this and other bad questions? Because they can GOOGLE the answer, that’s why! The same goes for questions like: What’s your greatest strength? Why do you want to work here? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? and Why should I hire you?
Stop wasting your time asking questions people can look up the answer to and start creating questions that are specific to your organization and to the job you’re trying to fill.
4. You’re asking leading questions.
YOU: “This job requires you to work every other Saturday. You don’t have a problem working every other Saturday, do you?“
APPLICANT: (Thinking. . . Hmmm, I’ve got a 50/50 chance, but I’m guessing the answer she wants is NO), “Uh, no.”
When you ask a leading question, most applicants will give you the answer you seek rather than the truth. Then, they’ll quit when the realize they really do have to work every other Saturday.
5. You’re not asking behavioral interview questions customized to the position and your company.
Too many employers waste precious interview time asking leading, closed, and hypothetical questions. When I’m working with clients, I help them develop REAL questions about what the applicant REALLY did in a RELEVANT task in one of his past positions. Therefore, you must create questions that will address the knowledge, skills, abilities, and fit-factors for your organization, that are key to a person’s success in the given position. As a hint- behavioral questions often begin with, “Tell me about a time when . . .”
6. You’re interviewing by yourself instead of conducting a panel interview.
Some of you reading this may not have the luxury of having more than one person interview applicants. However, too many of you are probably doing sequential interviewing (where one person does first round, then another does the second round, and a third does the final round) rather than conducting a panel interview. Panel interviews allow interviewers to experience the applicant at the same time, in the same place, answering the same questions. There is a consistency in a panel interview that makes the process more accurate in assessing the applicant and more fair to each applicant. A panel interview also allows you to discuss the interview right after it, with everyone present, so the experience is fresh in everyone’s mind.
7. You don’t have a rating system and benchmark responses for each of your interview questions.
If you’re going to take the time to create customized behavioral interview questions, then it’s also worth the time to create benchmark answers to each question, otherwise, how will you know what is a good, bad, or mediocre answer when you hear it? When I work with clients to create benchmark answers, I keep things to a simple, 5 point system. 5 points for an exceptional answer, 3 points for an acceptable answer, and 1 point for an unacceptable answer. For each of the benchmarks, I’ll write up keywords that would be present in each type of answer. That way, when the interview is being conducted, interviewers simply have to check or circle the words they hear and in the end, it’s easy to “score” each applicants answer to each interview question. Tally the score and it quickly becomes evident who should be offered the position.
I realize that breaking through the “interviewee façade” isn’t easy, but by following these 7 guidelines, you’ll be better able to weed out the aliens and find that real, “right fit” human for the job.