10 Tips to Hiring the Wrong Employee – Part II

contractPreviously, in 10 Tips to Hiring the Wrong Employee – Part I…

(Click here to catch up if you missed it!)

Hiring your pensioned neighbour and her newly-divorced best friend to muck in and help before you drown in paperwork and overdue orders may have seemed like a good idea at the time. But if they weren’t appointed into a valid and valuable post with a clearly defined job description, you may well regret your decision in time.

Once you’ve identified the employment need in your organisation, the next thing to do is fill it. Unsuccessful organisations seem to go out of their way to fill vacant posts with the wrong people.

Tip 3: Being blinded by qualifications

As you wade through the huge pile of CVs, you can’t help but be awed by the quality of candidates applying for the position. Degrees, diplomas and certificates abound. Well, that settles it then. Someone with the perseverance and tenacity to complete a PhD must be an asset to any organisation, surely? Well, yes, if you’re an educational facility. Or a medical facility. Or a research facility. But is it really necessary for your credit controller position? She may be able to debunk more myths than you thought possible, recite the Thesaurus, and tabulate the most verbose of manuscripts. But does she know her debit from her credit?

There is many a manager with the tendency to over-emphasise education at the expense of skill and experience. Proper qualifications most certainly play a crucial role when recruiting within certain industries, such as the medical or legal industries. But education is just one factor in the bouquet of attributes that make up a star employee. Whilst education provides a person with knowledge, it’s that person’s experience and skill that really shows what she is capable of achieving with her knowledge. When compiling the Job Description, make sure that you identify the minimum education and experience levels required of the job. And be careful not to be distracted by gleaming lists of inspirational educational achievements.

Wrong way: Appoint the candidate with the highest level of education.

Right way: Understand the level of education (and experience) that is needed to properly execute the duties required of the job.

Tip 4: Believe everything you read

Many recruiters find themselves overwhelmed by the quality of the CVs being submitted for vacant posts. As the unemployment rate worsens, so the overall quality of the candidates appears to miraculously improve. Lists of glowing references abound, littered amongst reams of educational qualifications and accomplishments of superhuman feats. Who better to employ than a star performer who has shot the lights out in each job he’s held, who’s been awarded countless company accolades, and whose hair remains unruffled in the most chaotic of circumstances? It only takes a phone-call or two to discover that he turned the lights out in his previous company – literally. He brought about their liquidation. In his job before that he received the Company’s annual Joker award for “Sleeping on the Job”, and it’s not difficult to be unruffled by chaos if he almost never pitched up at work to be ruffled in the first place.

If you are serious about finding the most suitable candidate for the position, then it is vital that you conduct due diligence to ensure that the candidate’s CV has not been over-stated or falsified. Double-check the accuracy of the candidate’s working history, contact references, perform credit checks, verify qualifications. One tool you can use to ensure that you get all the necessary information and consents to perform these checks (and not just the information the candidate is willing to disclose) is to get each candidate to complete a separate Job Application Form.

Wrong way: Believe the candidate’s CV at face value.

Right way: Conduct reference and background checks on the candidate before finalising the job offer.

Tip 5: The unprofessional interview process

You’re so busy being busy that you don’t have the time to prepare for the interview with the candidates for the post created so that you can be less busy. No problem – how hard can it be to engage nervous, sweaty-palmed hopefuls in conversation? Just chat about their backgrounds, their hopes and dreams, what they like doing in their spare time. Then allow intuition to kick in and hire the person whose chi resonates with you, whose ying aligns best with your yang. The problems with adopting this approach only become apparent after the candidate’s status changes to one of employee. While you were so busy dissecting the game last weekend and lamenting the crooked ref’s rotten decisions, you missed the fact that he “left” his previous three employers due to their “unreasonable” sales targets that were “impossible” to meet.

Hiring a new employee is not a task that should be taken lightly. It can take just one loose spoke to upset the apple-cart. Or in this case, it can take just one bad apple to taint all your good apples. The interview process is your golden opportunity to gain as much insight as possible into each candidate before making your decision. It is important to know what questions will best elicit the information you are looking for. And what questions you should steer clear of.  Prepare a list of job-related questions and be prepared to record the candidate’s answers for your review and consideration later. A tool you can use to optimise your interview process with job candidates is to implement an Interview Guide in your company.

Wrong way: Winging your way through interviews with candidates on an impromptu basis.

Right way: Prepare for each interview, carefully selecting relevant questions that will maximise your insight into the candidate’s skills, experience and character.

Tip 6: Sealing the deal on a hand-shake

You heave a sigh of relief, extend your hand and announce “You’re hired! When can you start?” You’ve waded through countless CVs – both real and manufactured; interviewed numerous hopefuls – and many opportunists; heard the most heart-rending stories – embellished for added effect… and you’re only too happy to see the back of this project and resume your real work. Your energy-levels are at an all-time low, and the thought of now compiling a written employment agreement – well, next week is another time. Or next month. Or never. What’s the worst that can happen?

An employment contract contains very important employment information. Such as the starting date of employment as well as the employee’s salary, bonus structure, benefits and leave entitlement. For the protection of both your organisation and the new employee ensure that you confirm an offer in writing. Added to which – it’s the law. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act requires that every employee must have an employment contract. Instead of going back to the drawing board and drafting every contract from scratch, rather keep a stock of standard Employment Contracts, in addition to a template Restraint of Trade and Employee Secrecy Undertaking. You can make adjustments to these documents as you require with each new appointment.

Wrong way: Employ on a handshake.

Right way: Sign an employment contract with each new employee you hire.

After trudging through mountains of CVs, sitting through endless interviews, and settling on The One, many a manager wipes the sweat from his brow and regards the process as finalised. But the recruitment process doesn’t necessarily end with a job offer. For more tips on how an unsuccessful business tends to hire its staff, never fear. Part III can be accessed here.

To be continued …

Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.

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