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HR 101 – When you want to hire staff – Part 3

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

Last time we had a look at how to screen the applicants using the Job Description and today we will progress onto the actual interview.

So there I was left with 3 applicants for the job. How to choose which one would be the most suitable for the position.

At this point it is not always about the qualifications and the number of years experience – what happens, as in my particular situation where you had 3 individuals who met all the requirements in the job description? Well at least that is what they said.

It is extremely important, when you interview someone to have a list of what it is that you want to ask – be sure to ask everyone the same question and have a ‘reason’ why you are asking that question. For example, when you ask a candidate if they are married and have children – the question is not so that you can ask them out on a date, it is usually asked so that you can ascertain if they have other commitments (outside of the working environment) that will take up their time or asking them what sport they enjoy is not because I want to come and watch them playing their next game, its because I want to know if they play for the Provincial/National team, as that would take them ‘out of the office’ when they go away on tours and the like.

Remember questions like “Are you pregnant?” or “Do you have HIV/Aids?” should not be asked. Actually, if the truth be told, you can ask any question you like, but if the applicant is of the opinion that they didn’t get the position because of their answer to that particular question, then you could be in trouble with the Department of Labour as you cannot discriminate against someone because they are pregnant and you cannot discriminate against someone because they are HIV/Aids positive. So why bother asking those particular questions unless the position that they are applying for will adversely affect those in that particular position. For me, awarding a score to each answer that is positive for the Company, means that I can reduce their answers to numbers and then the applicant with the highest score would be the winner. Don’t forget to take into account things like, whether they are able to work as part of a team, your first impression, how they presented themselves, how they spoke or articulated what they wanted to say – these are all very important factors that should also be scored upon. What do you think of the individual and as a person? Let’s be honest – if the hair on the back of your neck rises each time you look at them or talk to them, it is not a good idea to hire them, especially if you are going to be working closely with them. Don’t ever disregard your ‘gut feel’ or your intuition – it may save you many a grey hair in the long run.

Then get them to do a little test – something that they would be expected to do as a matter of course. If for example you are employing someone who will assist in putting together and running an event – give them the brief on an event that you have run in the past (take out the clients name and any other confidential information or change the names etc) and get them to give you a list of what they need to do. Someone who has actually done this before will have no trouble giving you something that makes sense, but someone who is taking a chance will in all probability leave out many of the most fundamental and basic steps. Getting them to do a little test is one of the quickest ways to ensure that you actually have someone who knows what it is that they are doing as opposed to someone who thinks they know it all.

Finally, once you have made your choice, don’t forget to check those references. Don’t just call the cell phone number of the person that they say they worked for – look up the Company’s phone number and ask to speak to that person – at least that way you know that they actually work there. Another tip is to ask to speak to that person’s supervisor/manager. Do you know how many people give the name and contact details of the person who sat at the desk next to them and not their supervisor or manager? Remember that if you cannot get hold of one or more of their references, there is usually a reason and I promise you it will not be in your favour. I personally would not employ someone whose references I could not verify.

If you are needing certificates or diplomas – check with the university or learning establishment to make sure that they did in fact get that qualification – this always reminds me of the surgeon who is performing complicated operations who was thrown out of medical school before he qualified. Don’t believe anything they tell you – check it out and make sure yourself.

Next time we will have a look at a completely new topic.