Recruiting Quality Employees

Recruiting Top Notch Employees

Years ago I was sitting around a boardroom table with a group of frustrated managers. We worked for a large retirement community and were hard pressed to find reliable employees. The long term care industry was flooded either with candidates that had no experience, or those that not only had experience, but bad attitudes and poor work histories to boot! The running joke in our marketplace was that most employers were so hard up for help, they would hire anyone with a pulse. That’s when we decided that we could no longer go on in such a manner. Things had to change.

A wise consultant once said, “There are plenty of good people out there. They just don’t currently work for you!” And he was right! This realization was the first step to turning things around for our organization. The question was, what steps did we need to take in order to get those good employees to work for us? Several great ideas sprang forth. Implementing these ideas across the board, led to a complete culture change within our organization and ultimately, to a successful resolution.

Reframing the Issue

Let’s start at the beginning. In order to attract quality employees, your organization will need to reframe the issue. By agreeing that “there are plenty of good employees out there, they just don’t currently work for you,” you are injecting hope and life into your recruitment process. If you spend each day thinking that all prospects are not worth the time it takes to interview them, and that you’ll simply hire the lesser of two evils, you will not recruit quality candidates. You won’t likely even recognize them when they walk through your door. The issue is not that there are no good candidates out there, it is that there are plenty of good candidates out there, you just need to find them.

Raising the Bar

If you are simply looking to hire a warm body, then it really doesn’t matter what their qualifications are, what type of references they offer or whether or not they show up on time for the interview. If you’re looking to hire quality people, each of these items is of vital importance. Just like in our personal lives, the pride we take in ourselves (or in this case, in our organization) radiates toward others. Prospective employees know when they are entering a place of business that has high standards. Establish a hiring process that is fair and consistent, yet rigid. If employees know that your organization is not easy to get in to, they will automatically have a higher sense of responsibility when it comes to job performance. Some means of raising the bar include:

  • Do not interview walk-in candidates, no matter how much they beg. You will need time to review applications and resumes, do initial reference checks if you desire to, complete background checks, and prioritize your candidates
  • Do not interview candidates that show up late to an interview. Even five minutes can be a sign of things to come. It is the employee’s job to impress you, not the other way around. If an employee is late for an interview, can you really expect them to be on time for the job? Prospective employees have time prior to their interview to look up your address, mapquest it if needed, and plan to arrive on time. Hold them accountable to that set of responsibilities. While we all realize that things do happen that cause people to run late (i.e. childcare issues, transportation issues, traffic jams, poor weather, etc.) it never bodes well when an interviewee experiences such difficulties before they are even hired.
  • Expect candidates to be well dressed and groomed. Even if you are hiring for a paraprofessional position that will provide uniforms or allow employees to wear jeans, it is never acceptable to allow a prospective employee to wear jeans, sweatpants, track suits, tennis shoes or other highly casual clothing to an interview. Candidates for professional positions, especially within management may wear suits or skirts and jackets. Others should be expected to wear casual business clothing such as khaki pants and nice shirts or blouses and dress shoes. Anything less demonstrates a lack of respect for themselves and for your organization. If your candidate shows up for an interview wearing inappropriate attire, you may decline to interview them. Be sure to tell them why. It will be important that they understand that you have standards for your employees and it will give them the advantage going in to future interviews. That being said, many industries are pulling candidates from lower socioeconomic groups who may not be able to afford very nice clothing. None-the-less, everyone should have something that is interview appropriate, even if they have to borrow it. Clothing should be clean. Cleavage should not be exposed. Skirts should not be cut more than two inches above the knee. There should be no baseball caps or other hats worn, unless they are worn for religious reasons. You get the idea.

Attitude is Everything

We’ve all met individuals that are a bit abrasive and have no filter. They are not socially and professionally adept at modifying their behaviors to fit a given situation. When this happens in an interview, it should pose a red flag for the hiring professional. I once interviewed an individual for a Chef’s position. On paper, the individual was well-qualified. When he arrived, he was wearing blue jeans, tennis shoes, an old t-shirt over which he had a tattered gray, hooded sweatshirt. He had a brash demeanor that was a bit off-putting. When I asked him about his experience with his previous employer he told me the following story.

During his first day on the job, three other employees quit without notice. The one that was left to train him was working his last day. The new employee was basically thrown right in with little training. The person who was working with him that day said, “You know, you’re nothingbut a tampon. They just brought you in to stop the bleeding!”

The interviewee meant this story to illustrate his ability to adapt to stressful situations. And to some extent, it did. But as the prospective employer, what I was most affected by was the gentleman’s recounting of a story that was overly crass. He could have chosen to relay the story without the graphic commentary and still gotten the same message across. He didn’t think about whether or not this story would be offensive to me. Given my personality, the story itself was not offensive so much as the fact that he didn’t care about offending me. He did not get a job offer.

Prospective employers need to remember that while we want applicants to be impressed with our facilities, benefits and working conditions, the interview process is not for the purpose of selling ourselves. The applicant has already expressed a base level of interest in us just by applying for the job. It is the responsibility of the prospective employee to sell themselves to us! As such you can disregard those that use profanity, request multiple accommodations in scheduling or duties for reasons not related to disabilities, dress inappropriately, behave too casually, or whose personalities otherwise just don’t fit.

Avoiding Legal Complications

Each employer is mandated to comply with ADA and other legal requirements. Be certain that hiring professionals are aware of these requirements prior to interviewing candidates. In order to assure that fair and balanced hiring practices exist within your organization, consider the following items:

  • Have a preset list of interview questions for each position within your organization. Solicit questions from managers in each area, and have them approved by an HR professional or your corporate counsel
  • Have metrics in place that illustrate who the most qualified individual(s) are for your open position(s). This will help assure that you offer the job to the best suited candidates.
  • Have updated job description for each position within your organization. These should be distributed to each person selected for an interview and they should be given ample time to review them and think of questions prior to the start of the scheduled interview
  • Post ADA and EEOC statements throughout your organization and include them on your application form
  • Post your company’s mission, vision and values statements throughout your facilities and on your application form
  • Determine for each position, what reasonable accommodations might be made in the event that you attract applicants with disabilities. There may always be circumstances that arise which you hadn’t considered, but at least you’ll have given it some basic thought and may have plans about how to accommodate protected classes of individuals
  • If your organization is unionized, make sure that you know your Union Contract inside and out and that your hiring practices reflect the terms of your collective bargaining agreement
  • Hold periodic training sessions for all hiring managers to assure that they are kept abreast of changes in employment law and are following your organization’s hiring protocol

Today's Behaviors may Predict Tomorrow's Performance

I’ve already mentioned that employees who show up late to interviews are likely to be chronically tardy for work. Likewise, applicants who make excuses for past failures are likely doomed to repeat those failures if you hire them. Hiring professionals should expect employees to have learned from their mistakes. Having been fired from a previous employer for excessive tardiness or absenteeism is a strike against an applicant. However, if the applicant can demonstrate that they have learned from the past, corrected the circumstances in their lives that led to the problem, and have set goals to assure that they do not repeat their mistakes, they may be a great fit for you. The key is, you not only have to read the writing on the wall, you also have to read between the lines.

Stictly Enforce Probationary Periods

Probationary periods for new employees are established for a few critical reasons. During this time, you and your new employees are evaluating one another and determining if the position is a good fit for the new employee. Much learning takes place during this time. Some employees will learn more quickly than others. During this period it is crucial to evaluate job performance, attendance, punctuality, team work, and ability for one’s work to reflect the mission and values of the organization, etc.

Even in unionized organizations, management has more flexibility to enforce polices and procedures, to issue corrective actions and to terminate employment during the probationary period. Once an employee has passed through their probationary period, it can be nearly impossible to dismiss ineffective workers who are covered by union contracts.

To be fair to all employees, assure that your company has clearly defined procedures for handling employees who fail to achieve the objectives for which they were hired. You must also assure that all managers are aware of these procedures and enforce them uniformly.

To improve an employee’s chances of success in their new position, consider some of the following items:

  • Institute training checklists for each position to assure that training is administered for every critical function of the position
  • Create a mentorship program that matches veteran employees with good performance with trainees
  • Institute periodic performance reviews during the probationary period that offer feedback to the trainee on how they’re doing and allow each party to set mutual performance goals that will be achieved prior to the end of the probationary period

Hopefully you will find useful suggestions in this hub that will get you started on your way toward recruiting the best possible workforce.

Best of luck!

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Comments 6 comments

Healing Touch profile image

Healing Touch 6 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

Great hub. I learned a lot. Keep on doing these. I will vote up and share.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 6 years ago Author

Thank you so much HT. It's always so appreciated to see you following my hubs. I also truly value your feedback!


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 5 years ago from Pasadena, CA

Quality staffing agencies or freelance HR specialists can save business owners large amounts of time in filtering through resumes and qualifications. Do you have experience using these types of services?


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 5 years ago Author

I do, though my organization always had large HR department designated for these tasks. We did use the agencies on occasion, when regular staff availability wasn't adequate and we always used professional head-hunting services when looking to fill executive management positions.


accuscreen 5 years ago

This hub is very insightful for companies trying to hire the best people in an economy with so many fighting for one job. Thanks for the information.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 5 years ago Author

You're quite welcome. I'm glad you found it useful.

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