Good employee selection practices makes a difference (article)

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In this article, Derek Stockley discusses the difference good employee selection practices make. Many staff performance issues can be avoided if a little extra care is taken.

Derek Stockley provides training and performance management consulting services from his base in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Derek Stockley conducts a one day recruitment and selection course in Melbourne as well as in-house training in job search and selection and interviewing.

Employment success

At a recent leadership development training program, I asked a question I regularly ask:

Knowing what you know now, how many of your current employees would you re-employ?

Answer - about 60%.

This answer is consistent with previous groups I have trained, as well as general employment survey research. It means that poor employee selection decisions are regularly made.

Suitable candidates are not being found. About 40% of employees are not performing well or as expected. In some way, they cause their management a problem. It may be poor attitude or interpersonal problems. It may be they cannot perform their duties properly.

Are sound employee selection practices worth the effort?

In time management programs, I sometimes cite recruitment and selection as a good example of the 'Pareto principle' - 20% of the effort produces 80% of the results.

It is worth a little extra effort to make a good selection rather than an average one. Spending the time to make a good decision is a sound investment. It is time well spent.

Managing performance problems is a constant theme raised by training participants. Amongst other things, poor performance consumes management time. It diverts attention away from more productive matters.

Managing performance would not be a major issue if team leaders and managers exercised greater control in the recruitment and selection process.

Employee selection tips

The following tips may help:

  • Establish clear requirements - what is expected of the position, what are the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to carry out the position responsibilities effectively?

  • Probe the candidates in a variety of ways - ask them what they have done/would do in a variety of situations, test their knowledge, get them to demonstrate actual skills.

  • Consider how they compliment the other team members - what different attitudes and approaches do they bring?

  • Make sure you are fully satisfied - a partially suitable candidate will only cause problems in the long run.

I apologise for listing such 'basic' tips. On the face of it, these tips seem relatively straightforward. However, doing them correctly is not easy.

For example, thinking about appropriate and non-standard interview questions requires some time.

Most candidates should have a coherent answer to:

What are your strongest points?

What are your weaknesses?

Behavioural questions are more helpful:

What would you do if ............?

How have you approached ..........before?

Interviews are not the only thing to rely on - there are other selection techniques as well (see related article below).

Summary and conclusion

The number of times I talk to managers and team leaders about performance problems, and discover that the problems existed from the very start, prompts me to re-inforce the basics.

Remember, team leaders and managers consistently rate their own performance (or their organisations) at only a 60% employment success rate.

Successful employment practices rely on getting the basics right. It takes a little extra effort and some extra time, but that effort is well rewarded. An efficient and effective employee saves time and contributes positively to organisational success.

A poor employment selection only brings problems and stress - even if the person leaves smoothly.

Related article

This topic is also discussed at: recruitment selection article.

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