Opinion: Add Horsepower to Your Hiring Process

A picture of Wendy Sheaffer

Any hiring decision can be a gamble, and a lot can complicate the process or go wrong between receiving resumes, interviewing applicants, making an offer, and assessing the first 90 days of employment.

When dealing with people, always expect the unexpected. Many times, I have been shocked by a candidate’s actions. Once, after confirming the 10 a.m. interview time via phone and an accepted calendar invite, the candidate called me at 9:30 a.m., asking when he could “stop by.” After I confirmed we had a 10 a.m. meeting, he was still 10 minutes late.

The example is a mild one among head-scratching weirdness. Often, hiring managers make hiring decisions based only on a candidate’s resume, while others rely on their biased opinions plus the little they can garner during phone/in-person interviews.

Much the way diesel engines provide more power, better torque and towing capacity than gas engines do, job candidate tests add more decision-making power to the selection process. Diesel engines last longer, and the primary goal of hiring top talent is to retain them.

Nothing is worse than losing a top employee who gets the job, enjoys the job, and is competent to do the job. Using data to understand employees will go a long way toward keeping your top talent from leaving.

Sure, retaining staff takes more work, but all good things do.


Take Out the Guesswork

Will the applicant work well with the individual mix at your dealership? Is the candidate a team player, or will they work better on their own? Does the candidate have grace under fire or a short fuse? Does your top sales management candidate truly possess the assertiveness to lead your sales team, or will they cave to every crazy demand?

When the position for which you are recruiting could benefit from a specific personality type, focusing on the traits you need makes sense. Do not miss a valuable opportunity to gain insight into a candidate that is difficult to discern via a resume, especially when so many resumes contain more fiction than truth.

Compatibility with your business’s needs and values is one employee success predictor. Compatibility data can help determine whether the person fits in with your company culture. Although you do not want all workers marching in lockstep, they should mix well.

For example, when hiring a leader, you might seek an assertive, resilient, fast-paced person who is comfortable motivating people. Doing so ensures tasks will get done while maintaining staff engagement. Conversely, if you are seeking a service technician, assertiveness may not be as important. You likely are pursuing someone detailed, compliant and analytical.

The only way to improve reliability and boost your hiring success is by using as much data as possible to evaluate each candidate. No single tool should suffice in your process. An interview is powerful but not as powerful as using a phone screen, two or three interviews, job shadowing, skills testing, assessments, reference checking and background checks.

The more you know, the better you will feel about your selections. Using a single method to hire is like trying to power a Type A motorhome with a moped engine.


Communication Style Is Important

Some people work well by tackling the limited information they are given. Others require more detailed, thorough instructions. Some will not act on requests unless they see and understand the reasons to do so.

Some jobs require an ability to work boldly, even when information is scarce, while others require an ability to stop progress to collect and confirm information.

Think about the difference between a salesperson and a service technician. Service technicians cannot afford to guess when working on a customer’s engine. Salespeople, however, might guess a consumer’s RV preferences using clues ascertained as they walk the lot with the customer, even if the potential buyer is uncertain what they want.

By understanding a candidate’s communication style and dependence on structure, you can decide if the person best fits the open position. Likewise, knowing an employee’s preferred way to work and to receive information keeps operations running smoothly. Employees can then have a quantifiable impact on efficiency and productivity.

The test is no substitute for employee training. However, determining a candidate’s ability to understand concepts and deal with complexity can better your odds of finding someone who will respond well to training.

Every candidate claims to have problem-solving skills. The vast majority are correct. However, you need to ascertain how well they solve problems. By doing so, you will immediately know if you are working with a sharp thinker.


Take Personal Bias Out

Sometimes, you just click with a candidate. You wish the applicant would be the right fit because you can see yourself socializing with them. Knowing the person would be fun at happy hour is different from knowing they are best suited for the job.

Hiring managers can lose objectivity, though, when they start to connect on a personal level before determining if a candidate is suited for the position.


Grammar Matters

Poor grammar can be a pet peeve. In most settings, poor grammar is unprofessional. Most important, grammar errors can cause confusion, delays and costly mistakes.

Everyone peppers speech with some slang, but written communication must be as close to flawless as possible.

New hires must be skilled grammarians if they have access to the company’s social media accounts. Otherwise, the employees may make share-worthy mistakes, which you want to avoid.

For the employee changing your message boards, good spelling is essential. Spelling, verb usage and punctuation also matter when working with delivery manifests, accounts payable or inventory sheets.

Using language in the right context is crucial. Correct grammar and language point to logical thinking and the ability to explain situations clearly. As a result, candidates with strong language and grammar skills are more likely to communicate effectively with team leaders and members. Examining candidates’ language skills provides insight into how they will represent the brand to customers or clients.


Harnessing Data’s Power

Using the candidate data tests is just as critical for smaller businesses as for large corporations. Smaller businesses might find the data even more crucial because the chance for friction within a smaller workforce is greater.

Also, a smaller company may feel the cost of hiring someone unsuited for a job more acutely. Data can show how applicants compare with your top employees and even other potential candidates. In some cases, the information might lead you to invite a potential hire to a second interview, which could prevent a costly hiring mistake.

Optimizing your workforce means taking advantage of the right tools and data. Let’s face it, you will never wish you had less information when hiring and managing your team.

Wendy Sheaffer is the chief product officer at The Omnia Group, an employee assessment firm providing behavioral insight to help organizations make successful hires and develop exceptional employees. Sheaffer is an expert on using Omnia’s eight columns as a tool to make informed hiring/employee development decisions and effectively engage staff. She works directly with clients and Omnia staff to provide a deeper understanding of how to use personality data to meet business goals. For more information, visit www.OmniaGroup.com, or call 800-525-7117.

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