In their eagerness to start interviewing, many managers launch their search before they have clarified what they are looking for in a new employee. This causes a host of problems
First of all, the best candidates are smart, and they’ll stay away. They won’t apply to a vaguely described job; “Those people don’t have their stuff together,” they’ll think.
You will attract a bevy of candidates who don’t qualify, because your description of what you are looking for wasn’t clear enough to screen anyone out.
Of course you’ll get some candidates you can consider, but you won’t have a good basis for evaluating them. Result? You’re going to make bad hire, and that means low productivity at best or a termination and a lawsuit at worst.
Start by listing the key duties, responsibilities, and tasks of the person who will hold this position. Indicate the percentage of time spent on each responsibility. Star the essential functions of the position.
Remember to focus on the job itself and not so much on the person who last held it. It’s often the case that because of particular circumstances, the incumbent did certain things that aren’t really part of the job.
Ask yourself what has changed about this job. Has there been a significant change in duties? Have requirements changed (e.g., is part of the decisionmaking now done by computer)?
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Next, get a copy of the job description. Compare the job description with your list. Revise the list (or the job description) as necessary.
Identify any flexibility you have in assigning tasks. Are there parts of the job that a co-worker could take on if top candidates are unable to perform that particular part?
Once you have identified what you need the person to do, you need to identify the key skills, traits, and characteristics a candidate must possess to do it. For example:
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What’s most important? Ask yourself, What failure in performance would likely get the person in this job fired? What aspects of this job have caused the greatest problems for management?
Each job is different, but all jobs have characteristics that you can identify and that you can evaluate as you look at candidates.
When you are comfortable with your description of what you are looking for, share it with your boss, perhaps a colleague or another person in a similar position. Do they agree that you have captured the essential requirements?
In tomorrow’s Advisor, how to translate what you need into postable prose, plus an introduction to BLR’s handy HR audit guide.
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