Makarios Consulting Blog

Improve Your Talent Acquisition Batting Average: Part 1

new hire batting averageHiring someone to be a leader in your business is a nerve-wracking prospect. The ramifications of bringing in the wrong person can be damaging in the extreme. Horror stories abound about new hires that proved themselves to be lazy, argumentative, egotistical, incompetent, aggressive, and a host of other negative character traits. For that reason, it is imperative to improve your talent acquisition batting average by engaging in activities that will garner the information you need to make a wise hiring decision.

The single most important way to improve your talent acquisition batting average is to assess whether the potential hire is aligned with your company’s core values.

However, interviewers frequently fail to ensure alignment with core values because they make two errors. The first error is one of timing: namely, interviewers make the mistake of discussing the company’s core values before asking questions to determine if the prospect holds those values personally. By doing so, the interviewer has effectively shown his or her hand. For any questions that follow, all the prospect needs to do is parrot back the same core value language to be considered a good fit … regardless of whether the candidate actually holds those values internally. Therefore, hold off on discussing your company’s core values until after you have asked questions that elicit value-oriented information from the candidate. You will then have a better opportunity to hear what the candidate truly thinks and feels about your company’s core values.

The second error involves the questions themselves: interviewers routinely fail to craft targeted situational questions around their core values. This is understandable since developing effective situational questions requires time and effort. Instead, interviewers usually turn to Google, where they can scan “the 50 best situational interview questions” or “the 12 must-ask behavioral questions” or “the top values-based interview questions of the year.” Are these articles and lists helpful? Undoubtedly. But we always encourage leaders to use these sources as a starting point – not an ending point. You want to ask questions that relate specifically to situations that are normal for your business, where your company’s values should be clearly displayed.

For example:

  • If you have one or more demanding clients, you might ask the following to find out what a candidate thinks about the value of “outstanding customer service”: “Tell me about a time you had a customer who was a real challenge because of their personality, approach, or requirements. What were the circumstances and what did you do?”
  • If you have a core value of being a “fun” company to work for, but you also have to regularly meet a lot of tight deadlines, you might ask: “How have you maintained a positive and engaging work environment during a challenging time in the business?”

You probably won’t phrase all the questions in the best possible way the first time around. That is fine. Experimenting with questions is an important part of this process: revise and hone your questions until you figure out what wording elicits the type and depth of response you want. This is well worth your effort … after all, it takes much less time to develop good situational questions that help you hire the right person than it does to pick up the pieces after hiring the wrong person!

In Part 2, we’ll look at several more practical tips for improving your talent acquisition batting average. Until then, remember:

The single most important way to improve your talent acquisition batting average is to assess whether the potential hire is aligned with your company’s core values.