Candidate Selection: Guide for First-Time Hiring Managers

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Hiring is a time-consuming process. Recruiting a single person involves the screening of hundreds of applications and conducting dozens of interviews spread over several weeks. After all, the need to safeguard the company from bad hires is a pressing one. Statistics suggest that the cost of a bad hire could go up to 30% of the employee’s first year salary apart from damage to morale, productivity and brand reputation, which are difficult to quantify.  

That is why, businesses must exercise extreme caution while hiring new people. The selection of the right employee from among hundreds of applicants requires a combination of strategy, skill, and objectivity, backed by hiring experience. Needless to say, it is challenging for new managers to make the right hiring-related decisions. Their lack of experience exposes them to the risk of focussing on the wrong attributes—the costs of which can be enormous. 

Below are some tips to help new managers shore up their hiring practices. Use them to fine-tune your strategy and create a fail-safe system to identify great candidates for your company. 

1. Setting Objectives

A clear view of job objectives is the basis of a good recruitment process. You will find numerous examples where a vague understanding of the job specifications has resulted in a spate of bad hires. The best way to avoid this is by thoroughly analysing the requirements of the job for which hiring is being carried out. Once you have a good understanding of the requirements, it becomes easier for you to take the next steps like screening of CVs and interviewing candidates. It will also help in the drafting of an effective job ad designed to attract the right type of candidates. 

2. Devising the Hiring Process

The next step is to lay down a clearly-defined hiring process. This would include screening applications, shortlisting candidates for a written test (if required), followed by the prescribed rounds of interview. You may also need to collaborate with HR to ensure a thorough background check of the new hire. For ease, you could break down the hiring requirements into three sub-categories: 

  • Basic requirements—educational qualifications, location, total work experience.  
  • Core skills—professional qualifications, relevant work experience, computer proficiency etc. 
  • Soft skills—temperament, communication and interpersonal skills, team player, competence to handle projects independently etc. 

In addition, you can also develop your own parameters to help you carry out a better assessment of the skills and aptitudes of the applicants.  

3. Resume Screening 

Now that you have established the job objectives, and also devised a hiring strategy, you can dive right into the actual process! The next step is to screen the resumes from the pile of applications you have received to select the list of probable candidates. Look for relevant qualifications and experiences, accomplishments, projects executed, teams led, and anything else that is important from the job or company perspective. Don’t forget to check the accuracy and aesthetics of the resume (font, presentation style, spelling and grammar, formatting etc.) which can say a lot about the candidate. 

4. Interviewing the Candidate

This is arguably the most crucial part of the hiring process. An interview allows the hiring manager to ask questions to the candidate and watch them respond in real time. In the process, you are able to get an insight into their personality which does not reflect in the resume. 

It is important to probe the right areas to gain a proper understanding of what the candidate offers. Where they give generic answers to a question, follow it up with more questions which can help you get specific answers. This is also the place to try and identify potential red flags—lack of eye contact, lack of enthusiasm, victim mentality, lack of ownership, shifting blame and so on—so that you can weed out unsuitable candidates.  

On your part, remember to be polite, courteous, and put the candidate at ease so that they can put in their best performance. Just as it is important for you to know which questions to ask, it is also important to understand which questions you should not ask on account of their being inappropriate, illegal or politically incorrect. Questions related to race, religion, colour, sex, disability and food habits should be avoided at all costs. The best strategy is to keep your questions professional and relevant to the job profile.  

Making Quality Hiring Decisions

Employees are the most important asset of any company and the right hiring process can make a world of difference to the business. Each recruitment comes with its own challenges which must be met with the appropriate strategy and execution. Although experience plays a key role in hiring, new managers can also make quality hiring decisions based on the right inputs. If you are a new manager, use this guide to plan and implement your hiring process to attract the best workers to your team. 

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