by Russell T. Westcott
A deficient hiring process can be the root cause of your organization’s inability to attain a higher quality level.
A major player in the burgeoning high-tech aerospace market was expanding rapidly and required top talent for staffing the organization immediately. The major problems the company faced in its effort to meet its staffing process was adversely affected by several severe constraints:
- A large percentage of the supervisory and middle management people were new to their responsibilities, especially relating to identifying personnel requirements for the task to be done, how to plan and conduct interviews, how to evaluate candidates, and how to apply the organization’s compensation policies.
- The human resource function was not adequately prepared or trained to seek the high-level type employees needed for the innovative work the organization faced.
- There was no well-planned and documented staffing process procedure available. Planning for recruiting, selecting, hiring, and assimilating new employees was a hodgepodge of accumulated practices brought in by newly appointed supervisors and middle managers from their previous employers. On average, it took as much as three months to hire the talent needed—if, in the meantime the candidate wasn’t hired by a competitor.
- The external pool of available and apparently qualified candidates was being tapped by competing companies with much more success than the organization being discussed. In-demand candidates, from the nation’s most respected learning institutions were negotiating exceedingly high compensation, accelerated promotion guarantees, and fast hiring and assimilation. This organization, after expensive college recruiting efforts was, at best, just getting the left-overs.
- Careful screening was not the norm in this grab-and-go environment, resulting in many new hires completing a single project and expecting a promotion to an executive position, with a major pay increase, or they would leave for a competitor—with the tacit knowledge they had gained.
Suggested list of questions for a checklist to use for a hiring process audit
- Has a clearly defined task/job analysis been documented showing the requirements, technical and/or managerial, for the position or job?
- Basic skills necessary and competency level needed?
- Training/education required?
- Licenses/certifications required?
- Experience needed in similar type work (years/level)?
- Urgency of finding appropriate candidate(s)?
- Other specifics required (e.g., security level, health/fitness level, travel requirement)?
- Are the pertinent specifications expressed clearly so that a recruiter can identify a matching candidate?
- What recruiting methods will be used to seek candidates?
- Print/radio/TV/banners on building, advertising?
- Referrals from present employees?
- Job fairs/college recruiting/booth at events/Internet candidate soliciting sites?
- Professional associations/societies, industry associations, trade unions, recruiting agencies?
- Unsolicited inquiries, walk-ins?
- Have recruiters received training to appropriately screen applicants for the specified openings?
- Understanding the basic requirements and terminology pertaining to the job/position to be filled?
- How to react appropriately to cultural, personal beliefs, and language issues?
- How to behave relative to applicable laws, regulations, and internal mandates and policies?
- Have an appropriate number of reference checks of potential candidates been conducted and documented by trained personnel?
- Do the hiring managers have adequate training in how to plan for and interview potential candidates?
- Developing pertinent questions to ask candidates?
- Understanding what types of questions to avoid asking (relative to laws, regulations, policies)?
- How to handle a candidate’s questions (relative to compensation, benefits, work location, travel, work hours, start date, vacation, dress codes, relocation expenses, etc.)?
- How to close an interview without committing to hire the candidate until further internal discussion, reference checking and approval to make an offer has occurred, and setting a time to inform a candidate what the decision is and if both parties are interested in moving forward, what steps are next?
- What information is appropriate to provide to the candidate about the industry, organization, competitors, products and services, and requirements of the job/position for which the candidate is applying?
- What tests will a candidate have to take and pass to be considered, e.g., medical exam, psychological assessment, skill competency demonstration, physical fitness, licensing, etc.?
- Are all “required” tests validated for the specific job/position for which a candidate is applying?
- Is a candidate’s job/position employment application completed in accordance with the organization’s policies and are there any questionable entries to be resolved?
- Is there a clear procedure for processing candidate applications?
- Clear directions for preparing the paperwork and seeking necessary approval to hire?
- Clear directions for preparing the paperwork for rejecting a candidate?
- Clear directions for an accepted candidate to complete necessary documentation pertaining to a job/position (e.g., benefit signups, security clearance, disclosure agreement, etc.)?
- Are the procedures clear to both the hiring manager as well as the new-hire on how any probationary period of employment will be handled (e.g., assignment during waiting period for security clearance, how determination that probationary period is satisfactorily completed and acceptance or rejection will be determined)?
- Is there a clear procedure for new employee assimilation?
- Type of assimilation, duration, location?
- Measure of effectiveness of assimilation process for individual new-hire?
- Is there a provision for documenting lessons learned from the staffing process
- After a designated time period for new-hires, is there an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the staffing process for each individual or groups of new-hires for specific staffing needs?
- If a need for improvement is detected is/are action items assigned to management members for corrective or preventive action and followed up within an assigned time period for process improvements to be made and documented?
- Is management supportive of the staffing process and is the belief that “quality begins with the people hired” integral to the organization’s vision, mission, strategies, goals, and objectives?
Other questions to consider
- How cost-effective is the staffing process?
- Is the line-management sufficiently trained to perform their role in the staffing process?
- Is the staffing process an integral part of the Quality Management System?
- Are outside resources used in the organization’s staffing process well validated and monitored for their effectiveness and efficiency (e.g., placement agencies, job fair promoters, staffing consultants, social media-based entities providing job listing and search services, job centers in colleges and universities, purveyors of job/position advertising, industry and professional associations, union placement organizations, etc.)?
- Does the hiring organization have a website, brochures, and other media for the effective promotion of its job/position opportunities? Are these media periodically updated and refreshed to appeal to the desired potential candidates?
- Does top management take an active role in welcoming new employees either during the assimilation process or individually shortly after reporting for work?
- Is either an in-person assessment, or electronic survey of new employees’ satisfaction with the staffing process and the work assignment done after a designated time period following an individual’s date of hire?
- Is the effectiveness of the individuals hired correlated, on a schedule, with both on-the-job performance, employee retention and employee satisfaction? Are these correlations analyzed for continual improvement opportunities?
Frequently, both as an internal consultant and as an independent consultant It has been brought to management’s attention dismal results from a poorly designed or a totally inadequate staffing process. If an organization’s strategy is to provide the right product or service, the right way, to the right customers, for the right reasons, then the organization best start with the right staffing process to employ the right employees. Doing it right the first time is definitely faster, cheaper and better for all processes and from all perspectives. Quality should always be No. 1.
About the author
Russell T. Westcott is president of R.T. Westcott & Associates, founded in 1979, based in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. He is an ASQ Fellow, Certified Quality Auditor and Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence. He is an editor of the ASQ Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook 4th edition and a co-editor of the ASQ Quality Improvement Handbook. Russ authored Simplified Project Management for the Quality Professional (ASQ Quality Press, 2005), and Stepping Up To ISO 9004:2000 (Paton Press, 2003). He is active in ASQ’s Quality Management Division and the Thames Valley (CT) section management.
Russ instructs the ASQ Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence – Refresher Course nationwide. He writes for Quality Progress, The Quality Management Forum, The Auditor and other publications.