Recruitment Simplified - Part III

This is Part III in a new series launched through Morrison's People Solutions Monthly, a regular email providing valuable insight into human resources and other related topics. Click here if you'd like to sign up to receive Morrison's People Solutions Monthly email.

Determining Qualifications

There are several steps to determine a candidate’s qualifications. As mentioned in both Part I and Part II, the first step of evaluating a potential candidate is evaluating basic skills and competency. Certifications and professional licenses are a good measuring tool for skill level, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA), or a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) for a Human Resources role. Testing is another excellent tool, provided the test is properly designed to measure the actual knowledge and skills necessary for the role. Tests must never measure criteria outside of the role or be structured in such a way that could discriminate against a protected classification of people. Job history is also important. If someone has spent a significant amount of time in a role that typically involves a certain type of responsibility that time can be a demonstration of skill and experience. Reference checks focusing on verification of previous employment can help to validate that experience, but we’ll cover more on that in Part IV.

Past success is the best indication of a person’s qualifications. Interviewers want to know if a candidate has successfully accomplished the tasks or projects they would be responsible for in the new role. However, this can be difficult to verify based on a resume, certification, or a test. Behavioral interviewing is one of the primary methods that can help identify past success.   

Behavioral interviewing seeks to determine a person’s past job performance by asking candidates to describe the details of their experience. Past success has often demonstrated to be the best predictor of future success and is thus the basis for this interviewing approach. The value of this interviewing approach comes from the carefully tailored questions meant to reveal experiences related to the duties, qualifications, and competencies necessary for the position. If an organization is looking for a salesperson to successfully open a new territory, questions are geared toward asking the candidate to describe in detail their experiences in opening a new territory.

The structure of these behavior-based questions require the candidate to describe specific situations from their past: the task or project, what they did, their behaviors, actions, and the results. Asking them to relate these actual experiences in the context of the skills and competencies required for the position can provide a fairly accurate view of a person’s actual past successes. Questions can be tailored to address technical ability, such as the engineering of a new production line, or soft skills, such as the ability to work in a team environment or make a relational connection with a prospective customer. If a candidate is simply trying to paint a rosy picture of their ability, they will usually lose their way as interviewers ask for specific details.

It is important that interviewers consider failures as well as successes. If a candidate had less than ideal results (or an all-out failure) from a project and learned from that experience, they may be able to bring wisdom and perspective to future projects. They may now know how to do the job right, or they may have gained a more realistic picture of their abilities. As Will Rogers once stated, “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.” Sometimes taking advantage of a person’s past failures and what they learned from them can be as valuable as leveraging their past successes.

About the Author

Shawn Miller is a principal at Morrison working primarily in our People Solutions practice.

To get in touch with Shawn, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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