Are you prepared to hire the right person for your open position?
This content was originally in eBella Magazine and was written by Kelly Townsend
To help business owners with this critical step of what to do with turnover, I asked Maggie Alvarez, HR director of the Ibarra-America team at Arthrex, to share her over 25 years of human resources experience with us. In the following interview Maggie (MA) shares some great insight with me, Kelly Townsend (KT).
When a business loses an integral employee, a financial cost and impact on the performance of a team or division is experienced.
For the small business owner this impact can occur as a significant and detrimental breakdown. Each member of a small business is integral to the performance and success of the business, so the loss of a team member often leaves the owner and team in a stressful, chaotic position.
A common and costly mistake made by owners in this situation is replacing the position in a rush with the hope of getting back on track quickly. That rushed reaction is the opposite of the thinking and planning suggested in the bestselling book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, which stresses the importance of getting the right people in the right seats of the bus.
KT: Maggie, what do you think is the first and most important step to take before the interview process?
MA: The company must have a vision and a plan in place. Having clear ideas about where the company is going should be the context of the decision making process. It is also key to analyze your systems from the view of your vision and company direction before looking for a new employee. You may hire people unnecessarily when improvement in your systems or developing missing skills with your current team could be a viable alternative. If you have the best skilled people and effective systems the answer may not be in hiring another employee.
KT: OK, let’s say a business owner does that work and clearly need to hire someone. How do they prepare?
MA: I would list the five major functional responsibilities of the vacant position and then list the critical, non-negotiable skills or special knowledge necessary for each function. Find out the educational background necessary to do the job and research what educational background is desirable. Knowing what depth of experience you need is also important and can be a bit confusing. Diverse experience can be a better bet than a seasoned pro with one kind of experience for many years.
KT: What are the best questions to ask during the interview process?
MA: There are many kinds of interviewing techniques and I recommend the small business owner research and buy a few books with questions so they can determine which questions best fit the position. At the most basic level I would say follow the 80/20 rule—ask questions 20 percent of the time and listen 80 percent of the time. You’ll want your questions to address areas of experience, education, ability, willingness and manageability. Open-ended questions are key. Today there are several interview styles: situational personality profile, stress and behavioral. Each style has its strengths.
KT: Can you say a little about situational interviewing?
MA: Situational interviewing is based on the theory that the closer you get to a real work situation the better your evaluation will be. For example, let’s say you are an owner of a high-end women’s clothing boutique and you are interviewing a new salesperson. The position’s non-negotiable attributes are friendliness and good listening skills. You may also be looking for artistic attributes, the ability to suggest complementary colors and styles for customers. The situation you may ask the candidate to perform would be to work with a long-term customer and select an outfit for a special event, allowing you to observe how the candidate interacts with the customer behaviorally and artistically.
KT: That makes a lot of sense. Many people interview by just talking about skills and competencies and miss out on the opportunity to see those skills and competencies demonstrated. How does behavioral interviewing differ?
MA: This is more like applying the leopard-never-changes-its-spots theory. These questions are based on the past and require the interviewee to give specific examples of work history. The interviewee shares about situations regarding unpopular decisions or past breakdowns in communication. How did they approach these kinds of situations?
KT: Thank you for your insights Maggie.
Clearly business owners need to thoughtfully prepare to add or replace a member within their team.