Hire the Right People

Hire the Right People

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Have you ever googled ‘how to hire the right employee’? You’re not alone. This particular search presents over 13 million hits. It’s a topic that plagues many business owners globally, so don’t feel alone in your frustration to find – and keep – great employees.

“Most companies are struggling to attract and keep the right talent pool,” agrees Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions. “The past decade has seen so many drastic changes in the business world that many career paths have become unpredictable and less secure. Employment boundaries are also less rigid than they were previously and talent can easily move to where there is greater demand,” she says.

Vittee also warns that because of the high unemployment rate in South Africa – 25,7% in the second quarter of 2011 –  candidates will accept positions that they are competent for but not necessarily
interested in, resulting in high staff turnover and increased retirement costs for companies. “All of this means that it’s crucial for companies to have systems in place for finding and identifying the right talent. Hiring the right employee requires matching the position with the candidate’s preferred and natural style of work.”

And why is this important? “For some companies it isn’t,” says Vittee. “But for the majority of companies, without employees there is no business. If you are spending between 45% and 75% of your operational budget on employees, they are an integral part of your business, and you want to ensure that you are getting real value for your money. Business owners and managers should not view employees as a cost, but rather as an investment. And as with any investment, you want to choose wisely.”

Can, want and will

To ensure they are hiring the right talent, Vittee suggests companies follow a system that Quest has dubbed ‘Can, want and will’. “‘Can’ relates to the functional abilities required by the job,” she explains. “The ‘can’ element of this three-way model talks to the traditional method of recruitment, in other words, assessing if the candidate meets the inherent requirements to perform well within the position. Most companies focus on this element, without taking the recruitment process any further.”

By incorporating the ‘want’ and ‘will’ elements of the model, employers are able to assess motivational and preferred occupational behaviour by an individual. “Not only does the candidate need to be competent to perform the job, but they must also have the desire and motivation to be an asset to the company,” Vittee explains. “This will ultimately mark the difference between recruiting talent and recruiting the right talent. The right employee will be the difference between merely competing in the market place or dominating it.”

A good fit

Most of us spend more time in the office than we do at home with our friends and family. This means that while the foremost criteria for any position is whether the candidate’s skills and knowledge-base suits the position, a cultural fit is also important. “If an employee’s values and culture do not suit the company, neither will be happy with the arrangement. It is equally important for employees to feel comfortable in their work environment as it is for employers to believe they suit the position.

“Interviews are an ideal way to assess whether there is a good fit between the company and candidate. Don’t just ask questions pertaining to the actual position. Find out about the candidate’s interests, values and family. You’ll soon gauge what matters to them and what doesn’t.

And based on that, you’ll be able to assess if they suit the company and the team they will be working closely with. A good fit doesn’t mean a person who can do the work, but rather how they will work with their colleagues and managers. If their personality and values don’t suit the corporate value system of the company, everyone will be unhappy, and one way or another, the employee will leave.”

Vittee also advises employers to ask questions during the interview process that will reveal the candidate’s motivations. “Do they really want to work for your company, doing that specific job, or is this merely a stop-gap until they find a position doing what they really want to do?

“By the end of the recruitment process you should be confident in three things: the candidate can do the job; their personality suits the company’s corporate culture; and they want to be there because of the work and the company, not because they need a job – any job – right now. If you can get that right, you’ve made a good hire.”

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.