Gartner research shows that 9 out of 10 managers do not have the required skills to perform their role effectively. One of the key reasons for this is simple, if someone is a great software engineer or whatever other role they may be performing, because of their good work, they get promoted into a management role. This means they have been promoted based on their ability to do the last job, not their capability to do the next job. This is often combined with no real management training, which has led to a generation of managers who do not have the required skills to perform the role effectively. When it comes to hiring and the candidate experience, this is also one of the reasons why bad hires are often made. In truth, the manager has not been trained on how to interview and assess talent and make an informed decision on an applicant’s suitability. It is not their fault, but its imperative that the HR or Talent Acquisition Team ensure a consistent assessment from all their hiring managers.
Focus on the applicant
I have lost count of how many times a hiring manager has put off a job applicant due to their conduct in an interview. Hiring managers who turn up late, have not read the resume of the person they are interviewing, or even not knowing who they were meeting or for which job are far too commonplace. All of these things cause a job applicant to lose interest, after all, an interview is a two way street, if they do not connect with the manager, why would they want to work for them for the next several years? Its incredibly important that the manager is well prepared for the interview, on time and takes time to introduce themselves and engage in small talk at the beginning of the interview, as well as explaining what the role is and why it is important.
Without a personal connection, the interview is already off to a bad start. This means, you should not let your hiring managers walk into the interview room without introducing themselves and instantly ask, why should we hire you? It puts applicants off. The world has shifted, no longer should firms be asking “why should we hire you?”. Instead they should be saying, “here is why you should want to work here”. This mindset shift is imperative to delivering a positive candidate experience.
What problems need to be solved?
Next its important to move your hiring managers away from generic traditional interview questions. They are utterly meaningless in a modern interview context. When the average tenure of a role is 3-5 years, asking someone where they may be in 5 years is redundant. The same goes for competency questions. The truth is most hiring managers do not have the level of understanding to use them effectively. If you ask someone in customer service to give me an example of a time they have dealt with a difficult customer, everyone who has ever worked in customer service can answer that, as its what customer service people do. Therefore, so many managers get surprised when they hire someone who seemed to be able to do the job and then it turns out they can’t. They don’t have the required skills to probe to the level required.
Instead, the easiest way to ensure a manager can assess an applicant correctly, is to have the hiring manager focus on actual problems in their team. For example, if someone is in customer service, asking a potential applicant how they can improve the customer satisfaction score as its currently lower than desired it much more useful. There is no way for an applicant to give a generic answer, they must provide a specific idea to solve the problem. If the idea is rubbish, the manager will know, and if it is a good idea, the manager will know. There is no need for them to understand competency frameworks and capability maps. It makes for a simpler interview, but also a lot more valuable for both manager and applicant as they are talking about real, specific challenges in the role and expectations will be aligned accordingly.
Will the applicant fit in to the team?
Finally, t’s also incredibly important to ensure that all hiring managers are assessing for team culture fit. The leading cause of attrition ultimately comes down to a culture fit misalignment. Most people make the mistake of thinking that this is some fluffy concept about whether everyone likes each other and wants to have lunch and coffee together every day and drinks after work. But it is not. The other mistake that people make is thinking that this is about whatever generic words are on the company website, which is also incorrect. Every team will have its own unique identity, and the truth is this identity is usually a replication of the behaviours a manager allows.
For example, your company may have a flexible working policy, but if a specific manager insists every employee has to be in the office every day, then hiring an employee in to that team that insists on working from home twice a week is going to be a disaster. Sure, company policy may allow the person to work from home two days a week, but the manager is not going to have a great relationship with that employee. Likewise, if the applicant is used to working in a culture where the boss doesn’t care how many hours an employee works as long as the work is delivered, they are going to have an awful experience working for a boss who insists everyone must be sat at their desk for at least 8 hours every day. Transparency around the culture of the team is incredibly important, as it allows both applicant and manager to make an informed decision on whether they can work together for the long term.