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Hiring Great Employees Starts Before the Interview

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MCN Editor Beth Gainer Earlier this year, Danny Kerr gave a MetalconLive! presentation titled Attracting and Hiring Rockstar Staff. Kerr is managing partner and founder of Breakthrough Academy, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. The company helps entrepreneurs in the trades grow their companies’ profitability and effectively manage their time.

Based on his own recruiting experiences and observations, Kerr offered his advice to viewers, all designed to ensure they hire individuals who are the right fit for a company.

“We’re not in a recession of work; we’re in a recession of people,” Kerr said. “The most important part of running a company is finding good people. Recruitment is just this forgotten skill.”

To help webinar viewers hone this skill, he urged them to apply client-marketing concepts to find prospective employees. A good sales and marketing process vets out the kinds of leads who are not good fits. “It’s exactly the same for recruitment and hiring.”

Successful recruiting, according to Kerr, involves building an ideal candidate profile, creating strong online job postings, developing a sorting system for resumes, making quality conversion calls, and conducting behavioral interviews.

Building an Ideal Candidate Profile

Strengths, weaknesses and skill sets are crucial in building an ideal candidate profile, but there are more qualities to consider, according to Kerr.

“What a lot of us miss is what the candidate is actually looking for,” he said. “What excites that person? How do they feel about their work? What are their goals? What do they love about their job? What do they hate about their job? What are they looking for? What are they fearful of? What’s going on in the mind of your ideal candidate? A lot of us don’t give that enough thought,” he said, adding that business decision makers think this way for sales and marketing purposes, but not when it comes to hiring personnel.

Creating Strong Online Job Postings
Creating a job posting that’s catchy and engaging captures the attention of the ideal employee, according to Kerr. He explained an example of when he was looking for an employee with leadership and team development experience. For example, he changed the verbiage of an ad from its original “Need a production manager for a painting crew” to “Need a quarterback to drive our painting team.”

Kerr stated that besides catchy language, a strong online job posting should have a short company profile that covers what the ideal candidate would care about. The final part of a job posting is a clear call to action: instructions for how the job applicant would apply for the position, whether it be to click a button or to complete an application on a landing page.

Getting ads out through various venues, such as technical trade schools, Indeed and Craigslist are useful. However, Kerr has found Facebook ad campaigns particularly successful. The company sends its ad out via Facebook Messenger to a network of 100 quality people for them to share with others. “That creates real buzz,” said Kerr.

Developing a Sorting System for Resumes
Kerr strategically sorts through resumes online, scoring them on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing the highest-quality candidate. He holds onto the resumes of all quality candidates that his company didn’t hire. When he recruits again for that type of position, he messages these individuals to see if they are still interested in the position or whether they know people who might be good candidates. As time goes on, the lead pool grows.

Making Quality Conversion Calls
Kerr said the conversion, or setup, call is made to potential interviewees and lasts about 20 minutes to set up the interview properly. One problem that many interviewers face is people not showing up to the interview. To help prevent interview no-shows, the interviewer should take the time to get to know the candidates and what’s important to them.

Kerr added that to minimize no-shows, an interviewer should use the conversion call to give the candidate an assignment for the interview. “For example, tell them to go to our website and read more about us and then write down five to 10 questions about what you would like to know more about,” he said. During the call, he tells each candidate while part of the interview is going to be about discussing his or her past experiences, the interview will also help the interviewee understand the company to ensure there’s a good fit for that role.

Lastly, Kerr recommended the interviewer give the candidates his or her cell phone number and that should anything come up to please let him or her know a day or two ahead of time.

“By taking the time to get that kind of depth in a setup call, you have a much higher likelihood of people showing up,” said Kerr. “I went from a 50 percent show-up rate to an 85 percent show-up rate, just by changing the setup call.”

Conducting Behavioral Interviews
Kerr recommended each interview take about two hours, but the time is well worth it to find the right fit for the position. The interview should be behavioral based; this means the interviewer needs to find out the personality traits of the candidate, rather than just focusing on his or her skill set.  “If you’re going to hire somebody to roof a roof or sell a roof, you can train them within a few months more or less,” said Kerr. “You can’t train someone to handle stress extremely well, to be excited by goal setting, have tons of tenacity or have good core values. These are natural behaviors that exist in people.”

“During the interview process, I’m taking time to get to know their past experience to predict their future behavior, and I’m identifying certain traits that would go with certain roles, for example: tenacity and attainment,” he continued. He said asking probing questions should reveal the interviewee’s true character.