If You Want a Great Workforce, Don’t Use These 5 Traditional Hiring Practices

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Dec 8, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, famously said,

The secret to my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”

Hiring the best people in the world is an exceptionally high standard that many companies aspire to reach. But, how can you expect to hire innovative teammates without innovative hiring practices?

If your business is suffering from low morale and high turnover rates due to ineffective employee recruitment and hiring practices, it may be time to reevaluate your methods.

Here are the top five hiring mistakes companies make and how to correct them:

1. Using a traditional job description

Job descriptions that focus on tasks rather than expectations convey low standards by emphasizing minimum requirements. This is a problem in any company where performance is low or even average.

Show me poor performance and I’ll show you a traditional job description.

But the problem is compounded because job descriptions are the key ingredient in ads when openings occur. If you’re using a traditional job description, chances are you’re recruiting the same low performers who are leaving the company. What a vicious cycle!

To hire all-stars, you must describe the job in terms that are challenging and persuasive to the type of candidate you seek. The job description should create a vision of the value the job contributes to the organization and communicate the highest expectations for performance.

If you want your job to stand out from other companies, write it in terms that will appeal to all-stars.

2. Using traditional methods to attract candidates

Most organizations use a handful of techniques to recruit new employees, leaving leaders struggling to fill openings because high-quality candidates don’t often look to generic job boards or Craigslist. Moreover, today’s top performers won’t respond to old-fashioned ads that fail to inspire them to tackle challenges or improve already valuable skill sets.

To attract the best talent, recruiting campaigns should be thoughtful and persuasive. Spend time composing ads that showcase your company culture, and describe positions in more dynamic ways. And ask your team for ideas about unique recruiting outlets.

3. Using a traditional hiring process

The hiring process used by most organizations involves multiple one-on-one interviews that exhaust candidates and stifle collaboration among team members. Or worse, only one interview occurs and the process is minimized by relying on just one person’s judgement.

Then we use traditional questions like, “Why should we hire you? Why do you want to work here? What are your weaknesses?

Most people can recite the top 10 interview questions by heart and have also visited sites coaching them on the “right” answers to each. Traditional interview questions may make it easier to hire fast, but they won’t help identify the best candidates. Interviews should not help you decide whether applicants can do the job, but instead how they will.

Think outside the box and employ radically different techniques, such as peer hiring teams, interviewing for attributes, and job simulations. Using these methods will dramatically improve your ability to find and hire the best candidates.

4. Ignoring cultural fit

One big reason new hires fail is because they don’t fit the company culture. Cultural fit is a critical component of employee success and also impacts a team’s morale and its ability to execute tasks.

Your company’s culture — its values and how they are demonstrated, as well as the characteristics defining the way team members work together and with stakeholders — is the DNA of your organization.

When cultural fit isn’t ignored in interviews, it’s often addressed using traditional questions that candidates can easily “pass” by regurgitating the “right” answers.

A better alternative is to solicit the help of employees who embody the culture of your company to participate in a hiring team. Then, identify applicants who are a good fit using a behavior-based interview process to evaluate their personal attributes and character.

5. Sourcing candidates from a temporary agency

Outsourcing the discovery of your most valued assets — your team members — to a third party that isn’t familiar to your standards or company culture is like playing a game of “hiring roulette.”

It might work sometimes, but it’s not a winning strategy for building a team of champion players.

In industries like manufacturing, this is a common practice that often contributes to an unstable, untrained, and unreliable workforce. An HR manager at a major manufacturing company described it like this:

We call the temp service on a Friday to get staffed for the following week. Many who show up on Monday don’t even make it through the day. By Wednesday or Thursday, we’re calling again to get all new staff for the next week.”

This kind of pressure to fill openings can lead to some desperate decisions — like opening the door to anyone who can fog a mirror. But now is not the time to lower your hiring standards; now is the time to raise them. Stop the cycle of turnover and sinking moral by using the above methods to raise standards, engage team members, and set high expectations.

By employing simple and creative recruitment, interviewing, and training practices, you can replace low morale and high turnover rates with a positive company culture and a top-notch team of reliable employees.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.