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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hiring Practices : The Big Is Not Always The Best

Dr.Wendell Williams writes that the hiring practices of even good companies need to be examined critically , despite believing that they have best-in-class practices. He points out that hiring criteria run the gamut from "Y'all come" to get-to-know-ya interviews, to magic-question interviews, to highly structured interviews, to interview/test/simulation combinations, and on-the-job exhaustive tryouts. He takes the example of well publicized hiring machine and adds his insight, which I found to be indeed insightful. A company that has hired 4,000 people in the last 18 months expects each new employee to be smart, a fast learner, collaborative, curious, and love solving problems. Looking at these goals from a whole-job-whole person, this description only covers two of the four critical job competency clusters.After going through the hiring process he points out that to be seen as complete, the company needs to expand the profile to include planning/organizing ability, additional interpersonal skills, and a few more motivational aspects. In addition, it needs to clarify how-much of each skill is necessary for each job-type (managers, for example, need broader and deeper cognitive abilities and better coaching skills than job-holders).

He points out that the overall success the company has enjoyed in the past often comes from having a good product and being at the right place at the right time. Many newly wealthy employees forget the right-time-right-place effect and wrongly take full credit for their success. As a consequence, they are quite surprised when market forces fade (e.g., who can forget the effects of the dot-com bomb?). In any rapid scale-up many times, the set out plan gets for qualitative selection more often than not gets trampled, hoping that in the case of young talent, training & grooming would help in setting this right. The set of questions that need to be raised while considering hiring :
- hire people who score high on motivation and assume they are job-skilled;
- hire people who score high on skills tests and assume they are job-motivated; or
- hire people who score high on motivation tests and high on skills tests?

Interesting article worth reading and pondering over. Several times innovative solutions and situational wisdom helps organization to take calls – wonderful as they are as it helps the organization to grow, its also the case that over a period for time, organizations need to objectively reassess their hiring practices. Some times when record breaking hiring happens – quarterly additions in the range of 5000 people every quarter, the business dynamics are indeed different but good framework and practices always helps. What is also noted is the fact in a huge mass, best talent always seeks early exit upon the availability of the first opportunity but deadwoods and average stay put – in a downturn or critical engagements, this may naturally tend to push towards average performace. The talent quotient and organizational maturity indes should always show an upward trend and thats what would be the best measure of good hiring practices be upon reaching a certain scale and comfort in ramp ups.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"