HR reps and hiring managers generally agree that hiring and firing are the two worst parts of the business. Fortunately, sharpening your hiring procedure can kill two birds with one stone: reduce the difficulty and guessing in hiring and decrease the frequency of firing.

How? By injecting logic deep into the heart of the hiring process. Consider this innovative 5-step hiring procedure from Platinum Solutions, an award-winning software development firm.

The 5-Step Process
Here is the 5-step process that Platinum Solutions uses:

  1. Online technical test. All applicants start by taking an online technical test to measure basic competencies in the industry and technologies relevant to the position. According to Laila Rossi, CEO of Platinum Solutions, this test cuts out 50-60 percent of applicants. Talk about reducing the strain involved in sifting through hundreds of resumes, a process that is fraught with unqualified candidates slipping through the cracks and excellent candidates weeded out.
  2. Cognitive test. The second step is a cognitive test to measure the logic and critical thinking skills of candidates. Simply put, you want smart people in your organization. And as I mentioned in my article about the top 5 skills you absolutely need, problem solving is crucial to success in the business world.
  3. Face-to-face technical interview. In this stage, a trained interviewer will ask specific questions to gauge technical capabilities. Please note that this interview does not focus on experience, but current skill and competency. While hearing about deployments an employee managed or examples of when they handled a crisis situation might be interesting, these anecdotes do little to prove one's competency. A far greater test is to ask complex, targeted questions, and then judge the depth and value in the answer that the candidate gives. It's absolutely essential that a well-trained and technically-savvy individual conducts this interview.
  4. Top grading interview. The "top grading" interview (as Rossi puts it) is potentially the most interesting piece of the entire hiring process. In this step, a hiring manager (or trained interviewer) will go through an employee's entire work history with him or her in a very probing manner. The interviewer will ask questions such as "What role were you hired to fill," "What were your experiences with other staff," "What staff did you disagree with and why?" Basically, because the interviewer knows that the company is going to do spot reference checks on any employee (not just employers) in previous organizations, they have no choice but to be honest. And given the invasive nature of the interview (in-depth, ad hoc), no interviewee can prepare enough canned answers to not easily be spotted for a liar.

    "You're giving people truth serum," said Rossi. "That's what it is. When you ask so many questions about so many people on their team, that's truth serum. I get people who just say 'Why did I even talk about that?', That's when you know it's a good interview."
  5. Reference check. The last step is a reference check--not with the favorite employer, teacher, and uncle that the employee provides information for, but the fellow co-workers and managers that stick out from the top grading interview. Through these calls, you discover the nitty gritty of how the employee works with others, what his or her strengths and weaknesses are, and whether he or she is a good fit for your organization.

The Result
The end result of this process is that you're left with a candidate who you know, without a doubt, has the technical competencies, the intellect, and the proven work history to succeed. You essentially isolate any biases based on personalities. "You get those friendly interviews where they have something in common, and the interview's over within 10 minutes. That's a waste of time, and that's how you get those faulty hires," Rossi said.

That's not to say personality isn't still important, though. Just in a business context. "You want to make sure a person can establish rapport--maintain eye contact. I definitely get people who stare down and twiddle their thumbs or stare at the ceiling. Those are not people we would typically hire," Rossi said.

For more information about where we've gone wrong in hiring and techniques getting the best candidates, I strongly recommend a book by Justin Menkes called Executive Intelligence. In the book, the author shows how the glue that binds the world's best leaders are skills such as reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving, and empathy. The author also provides resources for creating interviews that test for these qualifications.

Not the Best Process for All Jobs
Granted, this 5-step process isn't the best hiring process for all types of employees. For low-level positions in non-critical roles, you may opt for a more basic, personality-based interview process. But for the positions that play key roles in driving your business, you need the most intelligent, capable people you can find. And given that few organizations use processes like this, I have little doubt that there are numerous excellent candidates in your area that simply haven't surfaced to your awareness.

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