If there’s one situation that’s guaranteed to make practice owners and managers break out in a sweat, it’s an open position that goes unfilled for too long.

The pressure to fill open jobs quickly is real, and with good reason; the costs of empty positions are very real too:

  • Uncertainty for patients and customers
  • Increased workload for other employees
  • Reduced revenue
  • Lost productivity
  • Poor employee morale

The best way to mitigate the damage is to get your team back up to full speed by recruiting new staff as quickly as possible, right? Wrong!

Hiring in a hurry may seem like a good idea, but in fact will likely bruise your bottom line even more.

The High Cost of Bad Hires

Unfilled positions are costly, but bad hires are even more expensive in the long run.

With increasing pressure to fill vacancies, it’s tempting to fall into the trap of believing that somebody – anybody – is better than nobody. In most cases, however, a “panic hire” only serves to make a bad situation worse.

In the rush to hire a warm body, shortcuts such as interviewing too quickly, not screening applicants carefully, and failure to assess the candidate’s “fit” with the job and your office culture are common, and costly mistakes.

A U.S. Department of Labour study found the cost of the wrong hire can be as much as 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Can your practice afford that financial hit?

Bad hires inevitably result in high employee turnover. Turnover is costly.

A study from Inc. Magazine pegs the average turnover cost for a minimum wage job at $3,200; for managers and higher-level staff the costs increase significantly:

  • Entry level: 35-50% of annual salary
  • Mid-level: 150% of annual salary
  • High-level: 400% of annual salary

Take Time to Hire Right the First Time

As tempting as it may be to fill a vacancy as quickly as possible, a bad hire is more costly than having no hire.

Take the time and use all the resources available to ensure you fill the position with a candidate who not only is qualified, but is the right fit for the job.

It’s easier than you think! Web-based platforms like Eyeployment.com can help reduce the workload and take the guesswork out of the hiring process for businesses both large and small.

By screening candidates both on your criteria, and on their potential fit with the job, these tools help you identify which applicants have the skills, values, work ethic and personality traits most likely to lead to success in your position.

Eyeployment.com even creates customized interview guides for each candidate, ensuring you focus on the right questions that will help you make the best decisions.

Bottom line – don’t panic! Hiring in a hurry is no way to find the best fit for your job vacancy.

Focus on what really matters – employee fit – and you’ll be glad you took the time to hire well.

JAN G. VAN DER HOOP

Jan is the co-founder and president of Fit First Technologies, a company that applies its predictive analytics to the task of matching people to roles. Those algorithms drive platforms such as TalentSorter, FitFirstJobs and Eyeployment.com, which are relied upon by organizations to screen high volumes of candidates for “fit” in their open positions.


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In this two part series, Jan van der Hoop and Tim Brennan of Fit First Technologies bust popular hiring myths to help you avoid making costly mistakes. View part one here.

Myth #6: To really get to know a candidate, you need to rely on a good set of behavioural interview questions. Past behaviour is, after all, the best predictor of future performance.

The concept of asking behavioural questions was a tremendous innovation that improved the value of interviews almost overnight. But that was 25 years ago. Since then, candidates have become very well rehearsed at answering these questions… often to the point where they are better prepared for the questions that the person interviewing them. Add to that the fact that we all have a natural inclination to answer those questions from the perspective of what we know the interviewer is likely to want to hear, and you have a recipe for disaster. What we know we ‘should’ do and what we actually do when no-one’s looking are almost always very different.

The best way to understand how a potential employee is actually going to behave when no-one’s looking is to ask a completely different kind of question… we call it a tertiary-level question. In this case the objective is to ask questions that go beneath behaviour and have the candidate tell you stories about what worked for them and didn’t as it related to other people, jobs and situations. In so doing, you gain insight into their core – the attitudes, beliefs and values that drive them. These are the things that will predict the behaviours that are exhibited when nobody’s looking… and that will give you a clear and reliable indication of how the candidate will fit in your business, in the job, and with co-workers and clients.

Myth #7: There’s no point in investing any time or effort in training and keeping these pesky Gen X and Gen Y kids. They’re too disruptive to our business and won’t stay for more than a year anyway.

There’s no question that having up to four generations at work all at the same time can be a big challenge. There’s also no question that those born after about 1980 have very different attitudes about work than those who came before them. The answer is not to find more people our age to staff our business… that’s a dead end road. Literally. The real challenge is to help our managers figure out how to create a workforce that harnesses the energies and talents of all our employees and converts those energies into profits.

Contrary to popular belief, these ‘kids’ are generally not flighty and they do not want to skip jobs every year or two. In fact, research continues to show that, like most of us when we were their age, they want nothing better than to find an employer where they can do meaningful work, see the value of their contribution, learn, stretch and grow… and put down roots for a long time. Unfortunately for many organizations, these kids also have a lower tolerance for BS than we do, and they are more likely than we were to move on when they encounter it.

Myth #8: The quickest and surest way to gain an advantage over my competition is to hire away their top performer. Their loss is my gain.

True, high performers share a set of characteristics and core attitudes… but so much of their performance is tied up in other factors that are external to them. These factors can be summarised into four primary categories – fit with the manager, with the critical aspects of the role, with the people around them, and the organization’s culture and systems. Most often, poaching talent results in three losers – you, your competitor and the fallen star.

Change any one of those things, and performance will be impacted. The fact they are a consistently top performer in another organization, even in a similar role and industry, is no guarantee that they will be even an average performer in your organization. A far more effective strategy is to identify people who have the capacity to do well in the reality you present. When you find candidates who are at their best in the management climate you offer, who are drawing from their natural strengths and talents in the roles you offer, who engage easily and productively with the rest of the team and your customers, and who are proud to contribute to the organization… you have a winning combination.

Myth #9: Low turnover or no turnover is a good sign we’re doing a lot of things very well. Why rock the boat?

To people in some industries that are traditionally turnover-prone and where double-and even triple-digit turnover rates have long been regarded as just a cost of doing business, the notion of no or very low turnover must seem like an impossible dream. But there are times when very low turnover can also carry a hefty price tag.

The important question is not ‘how many of my people are we keeping’. The far more valuable question is, ‘what is the quality of the people we are keeping’. All too often organizations find themselves in a rut where people aren’t leaving because they are comfortable. And they are comfortable because things are pretty easy – the bar’s not set too high, standards are pretty lax, and mediocre performance is tolerated.

Comfortable employees will choke a competitive business.

Myth #10: Investing in employee satisfaction makes good business sense.

Many organizations believe that satisfied employees are profitable employees… and so they invest heavily in perks they think their employees will appreciate – everything from elaborate cafeterias to on-site concierge services, generous benefits and perks through day care. While those features may add to buzz and ‘cool’ factor, they are expensive and generally have very limited if any ROI.

The truth is, there is no documented relationship between employee satisfaction and business performance. A happy workforce is not necessarily a more productive workforce.

The factor that is a predictor of performance and productivity, and it is in fact the most reliable predictor, is something called engagement. Engagement is all about how focused and committed your people are to hitting and exceeding your shared objectives – how much sweat, effort and creativity they are willing to put in of their own free will.

Myth #11: Not everyone here should be a top performer. We need some “Steady Eddies”, or we’d drive ourselves nuts trying to satisfy everyone’s career expectations.

Don’t confuse performance with pressure to offer promotion opportunities. Many people who are at the absolute top of their class want nothing more than to be left alone to do what they do best, day in and day out.

All too often, we convince ourselves that it’s OK and normal to have a normal performance curve where 70% of the workforce is ‘average’… we too easily accept the notion that ‘average is OK and doesn’t hurt me’. The truth is, average is awful. ‘Average’ in most organizations represents an opportunity cost of 23% or more of payroll – money that gets paid out, but where there is absolutely zero return.

In most organizations, that 23% of payroll represents a staggering sum of money which if deployed elsewhere could materially change the fortunes of an organization.

 

JAN G. VAN DER HOOP

Jan is the co-founder and president of Fit First Technologies, a company that applies its predictive analytics to the task of matching people to roles. Those algorithms drive platforms such as TalentSorter, FitFirstJobs and Eyeployment.com, which are relied upon by organizations to screen high volumes of candidates for “fit” in their open positions.

TIM BRENNAN

is Chief Visionary Officer with Fit First Technologies Inc, the creators of Eyeployment, TalentSorter and Jobtimize.


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In this two part series, Jan van der Hoop and Tim Brennan of Fit First Technologies bust popular hiring myths to help you avoid making costly mistakes. Check back on March 21st for part two.

Myth #1: I need to hire people who have experience (usually at least 3-5 years) in this job.     

The sad truth is that in the vast majority of cases, organizations find themselves hiring for experience and firing for job fit. We bring people in to the practice because they have the right blend of education, credentials, and work experience… and then we terminate them because they can’t get along well with their manager, their coworkers or your customers.

Far better to find people who fit. Candidates who can work productively with your people and your patients, and who have the ability to learn what they need to know quickly.

Myth #2: A solid résumé and a crisp, focused and well-written cover letter define the best candidate.

When you consider that most candidates don’t even write their own résumés, and factor in all the statistics around embellishment and outright falsification of information on résumés, it’s hard to believe that we are still accepting these documents as the primary admission ticket for candidates into any credible organization’s hiring pipeline.

When you layer on top of that the realization that there’s no correlation – none whatsoever – between what’s in the resume and how well people will perform or how long they will stay, you have to concede that relying on a resume to help you find the right candidate gives you about the same odds as buying a lottery ticket. The difference is that getting it wrong costs you a whole lot more that the buck you spent on the ticket.

Instead, screen first for the things that are predictors of retention and productivity – then look at their background.

Myth #3: Finding the right person is a numbers game. To improve my odds of finding the right person, I need to broadcast my opening using the big recruitment boards, the niche boards, and selected papers and publications.

The odds that candidates who post their resume online or who respond to an ad will be the right candidates for you to invest time in are pretty slim. At any given point, only about 20% of the workforce has an up-to-date resume… and they have and up to date resume because they are actively looking for work. When you think about it from that angle, these folks are typically are not the top performers you want to speak to.

There’s a huge difference between quantity of candidates and quality of candidates. The best quality candidates are usually not actively looking for work. They don’t hang out on the job boards or read the ads, and they don’t have an up-to-date resume. You want to target the 60% of the workforce who aren’t actively looking for work but who also aren’t in love with their current job.

Most of us don’t realize that requiring people to give you a resume is actually a barrier to
finding the right talent for our business. When you do away with that requirement, and set up a process where better people can apply without that inconvenience, you win.

Myth #4: First impressions are everything. A candidate needs to impress me in the first five minutes.

Yes, first impressions are important. And the statistics continue to show that most managers decide at an unconscious level whether or not they want to hire a candidate in the first three minutes or so of the interview. The other 57 minutes are basically a charade aimed at gathering information – positive or negative – to support whatever that decision was.

Really good managers are aware of that tendency… and they work to counteract it. One important way they do that is to be clear on the desired outcome… that they are looking for a top performer, not a top candidate. This difference is critical… top candidates have a great resume, show up on time and look the part, and so on… and these cosmetic factors we’ve been taught to value have no bearing at all on how long they will stay or how well they will work out. The list of attributes that are predictive of top performers is a completely different list.

Top performers share a very distinctive set of attributes and attitudes. They learn fast. They take responsibility. They build solid relationships. They think and act differently, and they fit differently in your business.

Myth #5: We need to offer top pay and top of the line benefits if we have a hope of attracting and keeping top performers.

Research and experience continue to show that pay and benefits are among the weakest ties. There’s no question you need to offer a package that’s in the right ballpark… but so long as these factors are roughly right, others become much more important.

The factors that attract the right candidates and keep your people focused and productive are what researchers refer to as the four critical aspects of fit. Fit with manager is the most important; it will make you or break you. The other three are fit with the job, with the team, and with the practice. It’s surprisingly easy to filter people in to a conversation with you on the basis of these aspects of fit, and yet remarkably few organizations have figured out how to do it reliably.

 

JAN G. VAN DER HOOP

Jan is the co-founder and president of Fit First Technologies, a company that applies its predictive analytics to the task of matching people to roles. Those algorithms drive platforms such as TalentSorter, FitFirstJobs and Eyeployment.com, which are relied upon by organizations to screen high volumes of candidates for “fit” in their open positions.

TIM BRENNAN

is Chief Visionary Officer with Fit First Technologies Inc, the creators of Eyeployment, TalentSorter and Jobtimize.


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Successful hiring is a bit of an art. But experts say “Never put the Art before the Science” in order to improve your success rate.

If you’re like me, you have hired a good number of people over the years. And you have likely had your share of surprises and revelations along the way. A few have likely been pleasant, where people have shown unexpected qualities that have contributed to your business, and a few have led to, well, disappointment.

Statistically speaking, if you are “getting it right” even half the time, you are beating the odds. Research in larger corporations suggests that only 20% of hires are an unqualified success, where both the new hire and the manager who hired them rate it a “great decision” after six months.

That represents an 80% failure rate.

What that costs an organization is a topic for another day, but it does beg the question: what are we missing?

“Fit” is the Key

If you dig further into the research, you discover that nearly 9 times out of 10, the reason for the failure has nothing to do with the person’s competence or their skill level. It is directly attributable to their ‘fit’.

If you think of it in terms of the hiring process itself, people are admitted into conversation with an organization on the basis of what they know (skills, qualifications and experience, as expressed in the résumé); while the overwhelming reason for failure is who they are as individuals – their core attitudes, traits, standards etc.

In fact, academic research bears this out. Research over several decades at the University of Manchester into the relative validity of various predictors of job performance shows clearly that the items contained in the résumé have a far lower predictive value than the individual’s core traits and how they process and use information.

Further research into the concept of “fit” reveals that there are actually four critical aspects of fit to consider:

  • Fit with the Manager – this is perhaps the most critical chemistry to get right. Do the two share similar standards, and is the manager’s natural style going to bring the best out of the new employee?
  • Fit with the Job – to what extent does the role draw from the person’s natural strengths and interests, rather than asking them to spend their day doing things they will never be better than “adequate” at?
  • Fit with Co-Workers (and Customers) – again, is this aspect of the “chemistry” right? Does the employee genuinely like and respect the people they spend their day with, and do they feel liked and respected in return? This one seems like a particularly soft factor, but the quality of the “social fabric”, so to speak, is the aspect of fit that correlates most strongly with team productivity. Where relationships are strong and positive, the team will overcome any adversity.
  • Fit with the Practice – can the individual see how what they do contributes to overall success, and does that success matter to them? Do the organization’s values and mission resonate with them?

Science can accurately predict someone’s likely fit, or compatibility, in an environment. There are new platforms that are designed specifically to help organizations screen candidates for fit in the reality that would be awaiting them on their arrival.

The big mistake most organizations make is in relying on conventional techniques to crunch through a stack of résumés (or the old “A pile, B pile, and C pile” technique which I used for most of my career), then do phone screens and interviews, and then administer an assessment with the shortlist.

This method relies on the factors with the lowest predictive (read: nearly meaningless) value in the front end, then investing in science to screen a shortlist that might as well have been assembled by a random-number generator.

When you look at it that way, it’s absurd.

Far better in my opinion is to let the science do the heavy lifting up front by screening ALL your applicants for their likely fit in your open position; then, once you have identified the best people—those likely most compatible—at this point you can check their résumés to make sure their knowledge, technical skills and experience is in the right ballpark and take them through the interview process.

There’s room for both Art and Science in hiring. Using them in the right sequence will yield you a better, more consistent outcome.

 

JAN G. VAN DER HOOP

Jan is the co-founder and president of Fit First Technologies, a company that applies its predictive analytics to the task of matching people to roles. Those algorithms drive platforms such as TalentSorter, FitFirstJobs and Eyeployment.com, which are relied upon by organizations to screen high volumes of candidates for “fit” in their open positions.


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