Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
November 10, 2021
How do you sort through all the possible people you might hire to create your own "dream team" of employees?
In today's tough job market, employers are struggling to bring on enough people to fill the jobs they have available.
This inevitably leads many employers to "take what they can get".
We're not quite at the "mirror test" (i.e. as long as you're breathing, we'll give you a job), but the pressure is on for employers to lower standards, less they miss out on the opportunity to at least have someone do a job that needs to get done.
However, even in this environment, it is essential that employers rely on a proven process to effectively winnow out the chaff, in search of the desired wheat, that is a good employee.
One who will be a right fit for your team, aligned with your core values, engaged, and energized to help you achieve a bigger and better future for your organization.
Are you interested in learning how?
Read on and I'll share with you the exact formula that worked so successfully for me when building my "Dream Team" of employees, and can work exactly the same for you.
A Draw and A Filter!
The very first impression most people have with a future employer is a job posting.
Too many employers miss a huge opportunity at this very early point in the hiring process to draw the right people to their organization, while at the same time repelling the wrong people.
A well crafted and thoughtful job posting can accomplish both of these objectives, starting with making a very good first impression.
Stand Out - It goes without saying that a catchy, interesting title for your job posting will make you stand out from the reams of other ads searching for a quality candidate.
First learn what other employers are saying in their postings for the same position by perusing the listings in the job posting app you're using (Indeed, Jobbing, etc.).
Then put on your thinking cap and come up with something creative that will stand out and differentiate your posting in the few lines that are visible to job seekers.
As the saying goes, you only have one chance at a first impression.
Make the most of the few words job applicants are actually going to see from your posting when they're reviewing all the available job postings.
Share Your Vision - Tell job seekers right up front, exactly where you're headed, and how your position fits into the bigger, better future you're trying to create.
Get them excited about being a part of your team and doing something larger than themselves.
“Employees….feel frustrated when managers fail to help them connect their role to the bigger picture. The modern workforce wants a job that feels meaningful.… When employees have this sense of purpose, their engagement soars.”
Gallup 2017 "State of the American Workplace" Report
Core Values - In previous articles, I've talked about how to "discover" the core values for your organization, what you stand for and believe in.
Your job posting is one of the most important places to share your core values, acting as a filter to attract those who they resonate with and repel those who they do not.
Pre-Employment Quizzes - In my last article, I described the two quizzes that we require every job applicant to complete prior to an interview, one regarding personality and the other regarding leadership style.
We have a strict policy, and I strongly recommend that everyone do the same: No quiz results, no interview!
If an applicant is not willing to invest 15 minutes of their time to complete two simple, free, online quizzes, then we're not interested in hiring them for a job.
It demonstrates a lack of real interest in our position and organization, and also leaves us flying blind as to who the person really is.
If they opt not to complete and return the quiz results, they've filtered themselves out of the running for our job.
(Click here to learn more about my “Getting to Know You” class where you can learn exactly how to implement this pre-employment quiz strategy).
Background Check - The next filter that's included in the job posting is a clear statement that any person offered a job must first pass a background check.
Anyone with a past that they want to hide will definitely be steering clear of our job, but that's not to say that we haven't interviewed and hired people with a messy background, because we have.
If a person has enough integrity to tell the truth, come clean, and explain their circumstances, a second chance is worth considering.
It's unfortunate that every employer doesn't do a background check on new employees.
They're such a simple and relatively inexpensive way to not only filter out anyone worried about their past, but also to gain additional, valuable information about the person you're asking to join your team.
Following Directions - There are two distinct opportunities in my hiring process to determine how well a job applicant follows directions.
First, like almost every job ad, we ask for a resume and cover letter that explains how their job experience satisfies the required experience for our position.
Unlike the request for quiz results, if an applicant only sends a resume, and not a cover letter, it won't preclude them from an interview.
However, it doesn't reflect well on them if what you've asked for is missing.
On the flip side, those who provide exactly what you've asked for definitely stand out and are worthy of closer consideration.
The second direction following opportunity is sending the quiz results we've asked for.
We provide very clear instructions, and even include an example, for how to send the quiz results once completed, yet a large majority of applicants don't do it right.
For the rare few that do, they not only catch me off guard, in a positive way, but they rise to the top of the stack in my book.
That's everything that a well crafted job posting can do to help you find excellent people for your "dream team."
With the wheat now separated from the chaff, let's look next at what you do with the grain you've winnowed.
Every employee who invests their time to complete and return the quiz results has always received an interview in my interview process, and I recommend that you do the same.
You should not ask anyone to complete the quizzes that you don't want to interview. If you stick to this policy, following my recommendation should not be an issue.
For those who return the quizzes, and have earned an interview, you'll need to make a few preparations.
Quiz Results - Prior to each interview, refer back to the results from 16Personalities to review the Summary for each applicant's personality type and also consider who you know with the same personality type so you "know" each applicant before walking into an interview, rather than figuring it all out once your in the interview.
Formulate any specific questions based on the quiz results that will help address any issues, positive or negative, that come to mind.
Finally, as an ice breaker, we begin every interview by asking the applicant, "what did you think about the quizzes?", have you taken similar quizzes in the past, and do you think the results were an accurate reflection of yourself.
Core Values - The goal of placing core values in the job posting is to filter out anyone who is not aligned with the values, but for those who slip through, the interview process is where you turn up the heat on this particular filter.
Prior to the interviews, you need to develop two to three questions that get at each core value, without making it obvious that you're asking about one of your core values.
For example, if one of your core values is "honesty and integrity", you don't ask an applicant, "do you have honesty and integrity"? No one is going to say "no"?
Instead, ask if they've ever been in a situation where a supervisor or manager asked them to do something they knew was not right or unethical?
Most people have at least one example of this, and so you can ask how they handled the situation.
If they say, "I just went along with it... after all, they were my supervisor," this person is most likely not in alignment with this particular core value.
An alternate response could be that they recognized the situation as inappropriate and not in the best interest of a customer, client or the company, so they talked to the owner of the company or simply refused to go along. This person is the one you want! They have demonstrated "honesty and integrity."
"Sell" the Company - Share more about your vision for the future of your organization, and also your core values and how team members are expected to act on them.
Describe how the position they're interviewing for fits into the larger picture, and get them excited about joining your team and working together to create a bigger, better future for your clients and customers, the organization, and each member of the team.
In short, you need to act as if you're competing with ten other organizations who also want to hire the applicant... because you likely are!
Needle In a Haystack
In the interview process we teach to small business owners, we never hire someone without doing two interviews in search of the proverbial needle in a haystack.
For the first interview, we always including more than one person from our organization, but not more than two.
However, for the second interview, we recommend including up to perhaps four people, for a couple of key reasons.
Buy In - It's better to include as many people in the hiring process as possible so that your team doesn't feel as though the person hired is being thrust upon them, without having a say.
Multiple Perspectives - Including multiple opinions about a candidate ensures that an important question or point of view is not left out.
Performance Under Pressure - By design, the second interview should be more challenging, and the pressure created by a larger group of interviewers helps demonstrate how well the applicant performs under increased pressure.
The following are additional benefits of conducting a second interview.
Same Person - The second interview allows you to confirm that "the same person", so to speak, that you met in the first interview is who shows up for the second interview.
Consistency is important, and a comparison of responses from one interview to the next will provide you with strong evidence of consistent, reinforcing behavior by each potential candidate.
Core Values...Again - As in the first interview, ask one of the additional questions you created to get at each core value, rotating the questions between those in the interview so everyone is involved.
This is one final opportunity to check alignment before extending an offer to whomever becomes your candidate of choice.
Background Check - At the conclusion of each interview, if you feel that a candidate is "in the running", ask them to complete and sign an authorization for a background check, typically provided by whomever will be performing the check for you.
Again, background checks are very important, yet most small businesses, especially the smallest ones, fail to do them.
Leaving out this step means you've missed one more opportunity to "filter" out candidates that should not be joining your team.
Be aware, all background checks are not created equal.
The least expensive checks available on the internet will almost always not meet Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) legal requirements, putting you and your organization at risk of not providing federal legal protections for job applicants.
An internet search for "FCRA compliant background checks" will get you to the right place, and pricing is around $30 to $40, which is cheap insurance, and peace of mind, for a proper background check that provides you with very important information about the person you're about to make a financial and trust commitment to.
There are lots of excellent hiring processes that you can choose from, so be sure to pick one that works best for your organization.
While the one I've presented to you here may seem complicated and time consuming, in reality it takes only slightly more time if you aren't conducting second interviews already.
If you are, then it takes exactly the same amount of time as the typical single-interview process, especially after you've run through it the first time.
If you've flown by the seat of your pants recruiting and hiring employees in the past, then any structured process, mine included, will seem complicated.
But don't forget the objective: to hire employees who are a right fit for your team, aligned with your core values, engaged, and energized to help you achieve a bigger and better future for your organization.
Anything less puts you at serious risk of having to let your new hire go, or they decide to leave voluntarily, not long after they've started, costing you anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 to restart the hiring, on boarding, and training process all over again.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff using a proven hiring process will greatly reduce this risk!
To learn more about my hiring process, and how to create a "dream team" of employees for your organization, click here. I would love to show you how!
Best of luck with your next hire, and don't forget to....
Stay focused on your freedom!
Listen to the podcast episode: #011 Separating the Wheat from the Chaff