When the Numbers Don't Tell Everything About a Hire

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Human Resources

If you are responsible for recruiting and hiring new employees, you know just how difficult it is to determine which candidate is the best for a position. Although resumes and cover letters provide a lot of statistical information about an applicant or new hire, such as years of industry experience and the number of employees a candidate supervised, there are some things the numbers cannot tell you.

One very important thing the numbers don't tell you about an applicant or new hire is his or her leadership style. Leadership styles vary greatly and can have a major impact on the productivity of the department an employee works in. For example, someone who has a command leadership style is not the best fit for positions that require frequent interaction with less experienced employees who need direction. On the other hand, a teaching leadership style is a great fit for an employee in a managerial role.

No matter how much experience a candidate has, if the leadership style is not a good fit for your business, the candidate won't be successful. During the interview process, present applicants with a hypothetical situation that requires them to explain how they would delegate assignments, explain new procedures or teach new tasks to determine their leadership style.

Another thing the numbers don't tell you about an applicant or new hire is how he or she fits into your company's organizational culture. Often, organizational culture encompasses more than just how a company handles transactions with customers. Values, visions, office language, employee habits and work systems all combine to create organizational culture. Hiring an employee who is not a good fit for the company can compromise relationships with customers and affect the organization of the office. During the interview process, ask applicants to explain how they conformed to their previous employer's organizational culture. Their answers will allow you to gauge how well they fit your company's culture.

Resumes, cover letters and interviews allow an applicant to highlighting his or her best traits and qualifications. However, an applicant's true weaknesses do not often become apparent in the hiring process. Even if you ask applicants to mention a weakness in the interview process, they are likely to respond with an inconsequential weakness to avoid hurting their chances of being hired. Make sure you ask the right questions about an applicant when checking references.

Additionally, numbers cannot tell you how an applicant handles feedback. Every employee needs to be evaluated by managerial staff to improve performance and correct mistakes. If an employee is not receptive to feedback or takes feedback personally, the employee is not able to improve.

Since the numbers cannot tell you everything about an applicant, it is essential to ask the applicant and the applicant's references the right questions. Although this process is time consuming, avoiding hiring an applicant who is not a good fit can save you a lot of time in the long run. Look beyond the numbers to learn about an applicant and make good hiring decisions.


(Photo courtesy of Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net)


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