Finding the right person to fill a position is an issue for anyone who has to hire people.  All too often we are so anxious to fill job openings that we start changing our perspective of what is needed in the job to fit what a candidate has rather than matching the candidates skills and experiences with what we need.  Needless to say, the end result is a poor match between the individual and the requirements of the position.  That leads to the job not being done well and requires performance management to kick into gear, which we have already discussed as being one of the most poorly performed of management tasks.  It is better to take the time to select the right candidate.

This problem starts with a lack of clarity and confidence about what tasks must be performed in the job, and what skills it takes to perform those tasks.  First, recognize the vacancy as an opportunity to improve your business.  Do you really need to replace this position?  Can you change the description of the position to be more or something different than it was before?  Can you absorb the responsibilities of this position into those of another existing position and give that position a raise or promotion?

Never hire an individual if you have any doubt that they can meet every expectation you have of them.  If you do, you will be frustrated forever. 

The quickest way to get these answers is to flow chart the activity of your operation and clarify what is needed in the position.  By doing so you reassess the steps to deliver the product or service you provide, and you clarify the processes and activities to deliver them.  The result is a better idea about what is needed from each individual involved in the process, confidence about your need to fill the position, and clarity about what you need to fill it with.

The next problem stems from the belief that the “right person” for your position does not exist.  There are a couple of reasons why this doubt creeps into your mind.  You are uncertain that your expectations are realistic; you do not know how to define what you are looking for; or you do not know how to go about finding the “right person” for the job.  This uncertainty and lack of clarity is exascerbated by a sense of urgency to fill the position and handle the problems which occur everyday that the position remains unfilled.

If you have established clarity about what is needed in the position to support your processes, then the challenge becomes finding the person who has the skills to deliver on those needs.  First, this means identifying the skills needed to do the job.  If you do not know them yourself talk to people, interview the people who interact with that position, discuss the position with others in similar positions.  Clarify the skills needed. 

Next, create a set of interview questions which enable you to determine if your candidates have those skills.  Use probing open-ended questions in which the candidates can tell you what they have done which demonstrates their skills in those areas.  This is referred to as behavioral interviewing…interviewing in which you are probing for information about observable behaviors in the candidate.

Finally, take the time to select the right person who can do the whole job…don’t settle for whatever is available at the time.    It will be a source of endless frustration for you…and them.