As the economy continues to show signs of improvement many companies are beginning the search process to fill key positions. However, ensuring that a new hire is the right fit with your organization is more critical than ever before. The increasing potential for litigation against companies by disgruntled employees, the costs associated with replacing the “wrong” hire and the negative effects of a poor employee on other employees’ morale can all take their toll. In our experience, we have observed a number of strategies companies can employ to better evaluate candidates’ fit with the organization and help ensure long-term success.

One method increasingly used as part of the decision-making process for new hires is psychological assessment. There are a variety of assessments that can be used and most candidates today understand that a psychological assessment may be part of the interview process. In fact, we have seen that assessments can actually prevent a potentially “bad” candidate from being hired, even after the in-person interviewing has been completed. When used properly, psychological assessments can also highlight character traits that may be improved through training or that will be helpful for a supervisor to know prior to a new hire.

Another method to gauge a potential employee’s fit is to schedule informal interviews over lunch or coffee to allow future peers and staff to meet with a candidate. Co-workers can get to know the candidate and interact with him or her in a more casual setting, outside of the formal interview process. Sometimes when candidates
“let down their guard,” valuable information can be gathered that will help confirm a company’s hiring decision. This approach also helps co-workers and staff feel more involved in the decision-making process and they may more readily accept a new person into the team as a result. It also provides a valuable opportunity for the candidate to assess whether he or she will fit in with the company team.

In addition to these methods, we are beginning to see some newer strategies emerging to assess potential executive candidates. For instance, have you ever considered asking an executive candidate to submit a draft business plan? We recently placed a vice president of marketing with a $500 million company and before proceeding to the final interview stage, the company asked the finalist candidate to produce a brief, two-page plan outlining a few critical business factors and several ideas that could be implemented if he were to be hired. This allowed the company to test drive its top candidate and evaluate his strategic abilities. While the candidate was initially a bit reluctant, he learned that by completing the plan, he was able to generate positive discussions and impress the company with his ideas. As a result, he was hired and was able to hit the ground running.

Another unique interviewing technique we recently observed involved a company we were helping to complete a general manager search, which decided to introduce its final two candidates to one of its top clients. This approach, while a bit unorthodox, can be quite effective. The owner of the company invited both candidates to an informal lunch with his top client. This allowed the owner to observe how well each of his candidates developed a rapport with the client and understood the client’s critical business needs. It was also a win for the client, who appreciated being involved in such an important decision. By the end of the lunch, the winning candidate had clearly emerged.

Our economy is slowly coming back to life and companies’ demand for top-quality talent is increasing. As you find yourself seeking new employees, you may want to consider some of the interview tactics described. When used properly, they can be powerful tools in uncovering a candidate’s fit with your organization, helping to not only solve your short-term hiring needs, but ensuring lasting success.

Contact us to learn more about this topic.