Tired of piles of resumes and endless interviews? Learn to pick the right person for the job in 60 seconds.
Looking for the right employee is sometimes like running a dating service – you’re constantly on the lookout for the perfect match.
First you go through the stacks of paper on your desk, reading up on applicants’ experience, skills and goals. Then you have to decide which ones to meet.
When you finally meet, you need to figure out what you’re going to say and what questions you’re going to ask. Finding the best employee for an open position can be as nerve-wracking as finding a date.
But you don’t have to wait a lifetime to find that perfect match. Sometimes it takes just 60 seconds.
In Robin Ryan’s book, 60 Seconds And You’re Hired (Penguin Books, $10.95, http:// www. women connect.com), she discusses today’s hiring trends as well as how to get a job in 60 seconds.
Although the book was made for job hunters, it can be a valuable resource for employers as well. If you’re having trouble hiring the right employees, read on to
discover how you can find them and keep them.
Entrepreneur: What are some hiring trends you’ve seen lately?
Robin Ryan: More employers are negotiating salaries than I’ve seen in the past. Employers are also looking for the ideal worker persona. This is a person who displays flexibility, adaptability, a willingness and desire to learn, high levels of productivity – in other words, an employee who doesn’t just fill a job description but presents himself or herself as having the potential to grow into an employee you’re going to need down the line.
Entrepreneur: How should employers screen their applicants?
Ryan: The first thing you have to do is sort through the resumes and see who has the skills you want. Be cautious about people who’ve been job – hopping. We recommend that when you put an ad out there, you clearly state what kind of skills the job requires. The more general you are, the harder it will be to screen people.
The other thing I think is important is the screening interview. Do the first one over the phone, and ask a lot of questions to verify their work experience and make sure it’s applicable to the job. Usually I find that those phone calls will eliminate at least half the applicants you thought you were going to interview in person.
What questions to ask?
Entrepreneur: What are some key questions that interviewers should ask?
Ryan: My favorite is what their greatest weakness is. Job hunters hate it, and they often blurt out something vital and important to doing the job. The other thing that’s important to ask is what kind of salary they expect from this job. The person will usually tip their hand and say $60,000 or $20,000. You can correlate that number to their job skills. Someone may be telling you what a terrific manager they are, and then you ask them what their salary is, expecting it to be in the fifties and sixties, and they say $32,000. You have to sit back and wonder if they’re inflating their ability.
Ask other questions that are situational such as “Give me an example of a time when you dealt with a difficult employee” or “Give me an example of the kind of boss you work well with.” When you’re asking for examples, this allows you to judge what they did in the past and how they will react in the future.
Entrepreneur: What questions do applicants ask that employers should be prepared for?
Ryan: Most of them don’t know what to ask about – they search for questions at the last minute. It’s revealing if they ask good questions.
You should pay attention to the person who comes in prepared, asking a lot of good questions about your system, your operations, where your company’s heading. I wouldn’t be turned off by that. I’d say that’s a major plus because that’s how that person is going to approach that job being thorough, creative and resourceful. I’ve had employers tell me what impresses them the most is when people come in and ask really pertinent questions.
Key points employers should watch for
Entrepreneur: What are some other key things that employers should watch out for?
Ryan: You want to see if this person shows genuine interest in the job. I flat out ask them why they want it. You want to make sure that it’s someone who’s interested in your job and not just looking for any job – that he or she is going to be able to contribute and add to your productivity. The other thing that’s absolutely critical is to never avoid asking about references and to always check them. Anytime I’ve ever talked to anybody who’s bypassed references, it’s been a critical hiring mistake. When you’re talking to someone’s references, verify that the person has been a supervisor or a manager involved with the applicant’s work. If they didn’t give you the name of anyone who’s worked with them in a supervisory role, call the applicant back and ask for the name and number of a supervisor.
Entrepreneur: What are some interview pitfalls that should be avoided?
Ryan: The biggest one interviewers make is not preparing for the interview. They haven’t created a current job description that lists the skills needed to succeed at the job. Know the current market salary for the position so you can pay at least or a little above market to attract talent. Sometimes you have to pay a little more to get good people.
Entrepreneur: How does an employer find someone in 60 seconds?
Ryan: Employers make snap decisions-usually when the person walks in the door. The first question they often ask is “Tell me about yourself.” Employers who are trying to hire people should read my book so they understand what some of the pitfalls are and what questions they should be asking. There are 90 great questions in there they could be asking. Here’s how 60 seconds works. It’s called the 60-second sell. It’s a technique I’ve taught job hunters to use for years. A job applicant looks at a job and determines his or her top five selling points.” They link them together in a few sentences, and then they have a statement called the 60-second sell. When the employer asks, “Tell me about yourself,” or “Why should I hire you?” the answer is their 60-second sell.
When you’re hiring, especially if you’re not an expert at it, read up on hiring skills. Know what’s being taught out there. It’s critical to bring people in for a second interview to make sure what they told you the first time is consistent the second time. The more you look, the better you get to know the person. Lastly, if you’re a hiring a manager, be prepared to negotiate salary and know what the current market rate is. Survey other employers so you have a clear idea of what’s being paid and what you’ll need to pay.
Entrepreneur: How difficult is it for smaller businesses to find good applicants?
Ryan: It’s difficult for small or large companies to get experts when there’s such a high level of employment. By having a good ad and knowing what your job description is, as an employer, you can be crystal clear about what you want when you’re communicating with people, whether you’re networking, sending out fliers or advertising in the paper and the Internet. That way, you’re more likely to attract people that have the skills you want. You just need one good one that can do the job the way you want it done.