No Shortcuts Available For Hiring And Employee Retention
Article in Spokane Business Catalyst Magazine November 2007:
No Shortcuts Available for Hiring and Employee Retention
You may consider shortcuts in an Excel or Word programs a user’s necessity. You may even be that type
driver who is constantly looking for a “shortcut” to save a few minutes in your daily commute. When it
comes to hiring and retaining great employees, shortcuts can lead to poor hiring decisions which can result
in a costly business mistake for sure. Few goals are more important to a company’s long-term success than
selecting the right employees and ensuring they have the proper outlook from day one. Employers should
view the selection and orientation process as an opportunity, not a burden. Preparing employees for their
new role and communicating how they can be an asset to your company goes a long way to determining if
employees will succeed in your company. While hiring is never foolproof, there are additional steps you
can adopt beyond the basic interviewing to vastly improve your chances of selecting and retaining great
Hiring the right people for the right jobs is critical. An effective hiring process includes screening,
assessments or education verification, references, and possible background checks. These are essentials and
no shortcuts should be taken. Brief interviews and shortcuts in the hiring process will put you at risk for
higher turnover and poorer work performance. In addition to the basic steps of screening, testing, and
references, you may choose to enhance your hiring process by incorporating behavioral interview questions
in your screening. If you go to the internet and type in, “behavioral interview questions,” you will have
access to hundreds of behavioral interview questions depending on your specific job opening. Here are two
examples of behavioral-based interview questions:
• What three adjectives best describe your personality? Give us actual examples in your
past jobs of when these traits have aided you in the performance of your job and when
they have hurt.
• Please describe a sales call that did not go well. What were some of the factors that
prevented you from being effective?
Leading candidates to give you the answers you want to hear will not produce the end results you desire.
For example, “Will you learn these items and work hard?” Your candidate will definitely say yes. But if
you ask specific behavioral examples from their previous work history, their responses will give you a
stronger gauge as to their potential for success in your company. Rather than simply asking candidates what
they did in their jobs, behavioral interview questions generate the how and why answers. In addition, when
applicants state accomplishments, probe for specific details. This is an effective way to identify
unqualified applicants who tend to exaggerate in interviews and embellish on their resumes.
Another effective step to consider for the selection process is to include an opportunity for your final
candidates to job shadow for a half of day or at least a couple of hours. This gives you and the candidates
the chance to observe the job in a more relaxed atmosphere versus the very structured question-answer
process of the interview. Candidates are observing the job in action and talking directly with other
employees. This extra step gives both parties the chance to confirm the great fit.
Hiring decisions have now been accomplished. Now you need to commit to no shortcuts on retaining these
great employees. In addition to co-worker introductions and job-duty specific training, invest time for
employees to get engaged. The definition of an engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in and
excited about his or her work. Welcome new ideas and questions on what, how, and why you do what you
do. At Humanix we call this “handing down tribal knowledge.” Initially, one way to engage employees is
to share with them why they were hired. Communicate the attributes and skills that attracted you to hire
them. Employees will have a better understanding of how they fit in the company culture and how they can
contribute. Employers are always contemplating “Who will drive innovation in the company?” The
engaged and motivated employees, that’s who. In fact, according to a national Gallup Management Journal
survey, employee engagement has a significant effect on team-level innovation and customer-service
In this tight labor market, candidates will inquire as to what types of training are available, so offering a
training program is not only a powerful recruiting tool but it is also a very powerful retention incentive.
Throwing new employees into any position without investing in their orientation and training is a costly
shortcut that can drastically push-up your employee turnover rate. It is important to invest in the initial job
training as well as offer on-going employee development training. National companies such as Home
Depot just overhauled their management trainee program in March 2007 - managers primarily train in-store
rather than off-site where supervisor’s will provide them instant feedback. Dell on the other hand takes
their training off-site and includes lectures, question-and answer sessions, and feedback from coaches and
peers. In Spokane, one of our client’s Advantage IQ, invests multiple weeks into job specific training
programs. Advantage IQ “skills” training programs are all developed using the CRI (Criterion-Referenced
Instruction) methodology. Some of the critical aspects include goal/task analysis, performance objectives,
criterion referenced testing, and development of learning modules tied to specific objectives.
Employees also want to take advantage of continuing education and development. A blended approach to
employee development and training is practical and affordable. Delivery of training can include:
• Group Training Sessions – These are often used to introduce a training initiative. A high
–energy presentation gets the whole team involved and ensures that everyone receives the
• Online Coaching - Training between an industry specialist and the employee can also
reinforce skills taught and provide an additional source of motivation and support.
• Role playing – Staff role playing provides the opportunity for employees to practice new
techniques and provide feedback to each other.
• CD Rom or Web-based Training - This cost effective one-to-two hour training session
approach is gaining in popularity and more and more training sessions are available.
In conclusion, continue to apply those shortcuts on your computer, but when it comes to hiring the right
people for the right jobs and retaining that top talent, your valuable time and energy should be focused in
the selection process and in the employee retention programs. Remember, selecting and retaining those
great employees is an opportunity, not a burden.
Nancy Nelson is the owner/president of Humanix Staffing and Promanix, Specializing in Permanent Career
Placements with offices in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Nancy has been helping build Humanix since 1988
and is a graduate of Gonzaga University. She can be reached at (509)467-0062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.