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Hiring Time

by Dr. Linda Ferguson & Ross Reimer

When it comes time to make the leap to a new job, will you and the company be ready? In this article the importance of timing is identified as one of the critical components in the process.

Does this sound familiar? You need to hire for a key position so you call your recruiter. Soon you have resumes and profiles for several candidates. You set up a few interviews then postpone them when the president calls about another problem. You make an entry in your PDA, reminding you to reschedule the interviews. But you have several meetings scheduled already, so you put off the calls for another week.
By the time you look at the resumes again, several of the candidates have moved on to other things. Now you are forced to choose between working with what is left or starting all over. And you are still short on staff and shorter on time for hiring. Do you hire the next person who walks into your office?

Everyone who hires has made a hiring mistake. Most managers responsible for hiring have at least one nightmare story of the bad hire they made because they did not have, or did not follow, a rigorous process. They know from experience that their ‘gut feeling’ cannot always be trusted.

Recruiters, on the other hand, often write articles saying that managers hire too slowly: the best candidates do not have to wait because they have a number of opportunities from which to choose. It is genuinely frustrating to send a company the perfect candidate, only to watch that candidate go elsewhere because the company would not make the time to make a decision. Excellence always has other options.

Obviously, it is difficult enough to find one great candidate for a position without having to find two or three more because you let the great one get away. The key to hiring success is not only to find the right candidate, but to recognize him or her and make the hire at the right time. It is worth taking the steps necessary to recognize a great candidate, and then moving quickly to secure his or her place with your company.

Sylvia Bordignon, Human Resources Manager at Challenger Motor Freight, knows that her company’s success depends on the quality of their hiring process. “It’s a fast paced environment and we are growing. We’re not just replacing people. We are hiring new people all the time. Everyone in this company understands that our hiring process is important.” With the support of senior executives, Bordignon has developed a rigorous process that identifies technical skills and cultural fit within a tight time frame. “Nobody can guarantee success,” says Bordignon, “But we do not let great candidates walk away because we did not identify them quickly enough.”

The process at Challenger has three key components: interviewing, personality testing, and reference checking. The effectiveness of each component depends on how well it is done and on how well it is integrated with the other two. For instance, interviewing is usually done by two interviewers (Bordignon and the manager hiring) using the same questions for each candidate. Following each interview, the two interviewers compare notes and rank the candidates. Bordignon then moves on to test the evaluation produced by the interview. She explains, "From the interview process we have a particular picture of the candidate. We realize there are more aspects that we do not know and require more information. The next step in the process is to give the candidate a scientifically well-validated personality test(s) to complete. After reviewing the results and checking the references we have a more complete picture of the candidate."

What if they do not have enough time for the whole process? Bordignon explains that Challenger never compromises their process. She will speed things up a little if a candidate has a competing offer on the table, but every step needs full attention. “I might push to get the psychologist’s report more quickly, or clear time more quickly to check resumes. But we always respect our process. That’s why it works for us.” The normal time between the interview and a decision is only a week at Challenger; in special circumstances, that can be reduced to several days. “We try to get all the interviews for one position done within a few days. That way we can make good comparisons and get back to the candidates quickly. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

What if you do not have a staff that includes a human resources specialist like Sylvia Bordignon? You can learn from Challenger’s process. Work with a recruiter to find good candidates and evaluate them for skills and behavior through a process that gives you a range of perspectives and feedback. “Our managers are committed to the process because they have seen it work,” says Bordignon. “Once you know that you can identify great people (and avoid mistakes), it is easier to make the time to hire the right way.”