Tips on Hiring and Retaining the Right Employees

By: Kari Ann Legg, Labor and Employment Attorney


Tips on Hiring and Retaining the Right Employees


            Due to the economic downturn, many employers are now faced with a very different applicant pool.  Employers are now faced with applicants of different ages, experiences and different end goals.  Indeed, many applicants have been laid off, have had hours and income cut or want to boost their savings because of job security concerns.


           The bottom line is that recession means more talented workers are in the market.  More talent means employers can be choosy about who they hire.  Below are some suggestions to help improve current hiring practices, within the boundaries of the law, to increase the likelihood of hiring employees who are positive toward your Company and your business goals.


Applicant Resources.  You should analyze the sources from which you are obtaining applicants and whether it is beneficial to seek applicants from entirely new sources.  Employers often overlook alterative sources because they are accustomed to following the same steps in filing a position.  The key is to find applicants who not only have good qualifications in terms of knowledge or experience, but who also have a superior work ethic and a positive attitude.


Pre-Interview Screening.  An effective tool in reducing the number of problem applicants is an initial “pre-interview screening” process.  This includes a careful review of the applicant’s written application and resume and a thorough follow-up on all references listed.  You should look for the following:


  • Gaps in employment
  • Inconsistencies of any sort
  • Previous employment with much higher pay
  • Attitudes reflected in key statements


  Applicant Evaluation.  An effective tool in hiring the right person is to pay close attention to the entire interview process and to evaluate the job-related characteristics the applicant espouses.  Some key points the evaluator should evaluate (assuming job relatedness) include:


  • Experience
  • Hours they can work
  • Skills/education/special training
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Pay level achieved and desired
  • Motivation/drive
  • Conscientiousness
  • Cooperativeness
  • Integrity
  • Aspiration level
  • Reliability
  • Self-confidence


The Interview Process.  Below are some suggestions on how to manage the interview process so that you will obtain the most pertinent information you need to make a hiring decision.


  • Introduction.  Put the applicant at ease (small talk, ice breakers)


  • Encourage the applicant to do the talking.  The interviewer should do more listening than talking so he/she can “size up” the applicant and learn as much information as possible.


  • Review work history.  Start with the applicant’s most current job because it is typically most relevant to the position you are filling.  Ask about the level and complexity of work, extent of responsibilities, effectiveness, achievements, interpersonal relationships, level of authority and reason for leaving.  Test the relevancy of the work experience, or compare likes and dislikes of the applicant’s previous job with the requirements of the present opening.


  • Discuss immediate and long-range goals.  Request the applicant tell you about his/her goals.  not any significant changes in direction of career or education.


Interviewing Techniques.  Many employers feel uncomfortable conducting job interviews, as they do not know what to do.  Below are some suggestions to make you feel more comfortable and “in control” and to assist you in obtaining the information you need.


  • Establish a Rapport.  Create a non-threatening and supportive atmosphere.


  • Set the Tone.  Assume a relaxed, warm, conversational tone.  Use humor where appropriate.


  • Follow an Outline.  This reminds you to cover important subjects and it gives order to the interview.  Include subjects of interest to and questions about the applicant contained in his/her application and resume.


  • Note Taking.  Keep it to a minimum.  Do not write negative or discriminatory information during the interview.  Such a practice also distracts you and threatens candidates.  Also, do not write on the application form or resume.


  • Control the Interview.  Discuss all relevant issues within a reasonable period of time.  Get explanations for any inconsistencies, time gaps, missing data, etc.


  • Evaluation.  Do not evaluate the applicant until after the interview.  Take time to summarize notes and impressions.  Do not give the applicant any indication of the success or failure of the interview.  If asked by the applicant what his/her chances of being hired are, respond by saying only that “we have a number of applicants to interview, and we want to see them all so that we can chose the best qualified person”.  Avoid telling the applicant that you will know the successful candidate by a certain date.  Leave it vague.  Say only that ‘if you are chosen, we will contact you”.


Post-Interview Process.  Be sure all notes taken during the interview are marked on a sheet separate from the application form or resume and kept strictly confidential.  Make sure that all people involved in the interview process are familiar with the stated reason for rejecting an applicant.

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