Questions a Strategic HR Manager Asks Before Hiring

We all want to hire eagles and avoid hiring turkeys, says consultant Mel Kleiman. Unfortunately, he adds, turkeys know how to dress like eagles, and eagles often don’t look like eagles.

Kleiman, from Humetrics, Inc., offered his tips on hiring the best at BLR’s Strategic HR Summit, held recently in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Turkeys and Eagles

When a great hire turns out to be a bad hire, a turkey, what do we do? We try to train the turkey. That works about 13 percent of the time, Kleiman says. Unfortunately, that means that 87 percent of the time, it doesn’t. For the 87 percent, the problem isn’t a training one (can do), the problem is a motivation problem (will do).

The best you can hope for in this situation is a trained, motivated turkey, say Kleiman. You’re not going to change a turkey into an eagle.

When we want to hire new employees, we tend to look for people who are looking for work, but we should be looking for people who are looking for a better job. Where are the eagles? They are working.

Who’s Looking?

At any given time, says Kleiman, your employees and other organizations’ employees break out about like this:

  • 18 percent to 20 percent are actively looking for a new job.
  • 60 percent are not actively looking but would take another job if it came looking for them.
  • 20 percent won’t leave—they are happy and satisfied.

Bottom line, you’re going to be hiring, and you want to hire the best.

Managing an HR Department of One was recently recognized as one of SHRMStore’s “Great 8” best-selling products. Find out what all the buzz is about.

7 Questions

Kleiman urges HR managers to ask seven questions as they get ready to hire.

1. Can we do this job differently or can we stop doing this job altogether?

This is the first question a strategic partner asks, says Kleiman. How has the job changed? Should we keep doing it the way we are currently doing it? Should it be changed? Should it be outsourced?

Once you are convinced that you know what you want to do, go on to the next questions that help you to decide about A players.

2. Why would an A player want to work for us?

Do you have a list of 10 reasons an A player would want to work for you? asks Kleiman. You need this list, and once you have it you should post it on every manager’s wall. Then they are accountable for delivering on those reasons, says Kleiman.

How do you develop the list? Go to your best people, Kleiman says. Why do they like to work here? What would make them leave? What could we do to make their jobs better?

You can get this information by conducting “stay interviews.”

What’s the number one reason that A players quit? Management fails to deal with B and C players who aren’t getting the job done, says Kleiman. Remember, he says, A players never have to play on B teams.

3. Are we really committed to having an A team?

Once you identify the top 10 reasons an A player would want to work for you, you then have to decide, are we willing to commit to delivering on those 10 items?

Feel as if you’re all alone in HR? Take on a partner—Managing an HR Department of One. Get more information.

4. How will we identify the A players?

You now have another challenge—developing a profile of an A player and figuring out what approach will allow you to identify them.

5. Where are we going to find the A players we need?

Where are those A players? As was mentioned above, they’re working. How will you ferret them out?

6. Why would an A player want to work for that manager?

Then it starts to get specific. Is the hiring manager a type who will successfully manage an A player?

7. What will we do or are we doing to retain our A players?

Finally, says Kleiman, ask yourself what you are doing to retain the A players you have (or will have)?

Kleiman says A players are looking for:

  • A great boss and great coworkers
  • Opportunity
  • Challenge and growth
  • Family-friendly environment
  • Recognition

In tomorrow’s Advisor, more of Kleiman’s tips on interviewing for eagles, plus an introduction to the unique guide especially for the small—or even one-person—HR department.

3 thoughts on “Questions a Strategic HR Manager Asks Before Hiring”

  1. People new to HR or coming up through the ranks in HR frequently want to “be strategic”. This article highlights a classic strategy that all HR Business Partners, Talent Acquisition Managers and Consultants should use with every vacancy that comes up. Well done and thank you.

  2. These points are right on for hiring A players. They have worked in the past and work now. However, to suggest that all A players are currently employed is short-sighted. That may have been true in the past but isn’t in today’s labor market. Yes, the majority of people looking for work may not be A players, but some are. An employer should not set such limitations on their recruiting efforts and risk not finding a great candidate by taking such a narrow view.

  3. Regarding your first premise: A great hire doesn’t “turn out” to be a bad hire. It seems to me that if you didn’t do a good job of identifying the right person for the job, you’re the turkey, not the person who isn’t right for the job.
    Regarding your second premise: I’ve been continuously employed for the past 25 + years. But I disagree that all good employees are employed and all temporarily unemployed people are turkeys.
    I feel sympathy for the large number of great people who have been displaced due to a bad economy. Let’s not label them as turkeys and ask HR professionals to spread the word.
    You can’t be successful hiring great people if you use black-and-white thinking along with a host of simplistic formulas that can be enumerated in a one page article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *