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Garbage in – Garbage out… Five Tips to Improve Your Hiring Practices

By Jim Hartigan
February 19, 2013

We’ve all heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out.”  Abbreviated to GIGO for all our texting, tweeting, and liking followers, the phrase was first used in the field of IT.  According to our good friends at Wikipedia, it was used to “… call attention to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data ("garbage in") and produce nonsensical output ("garbage out”).  But, GIGO can be applied to hiring practices as well.  With unemployment rates slowly (and I do mean slowly) coming down, job movement will soon accelerate as the best, most productive team members  gain the confidence to test the job market to measure their value to other organizations.   If your organization isn’t already practicing these five tips for better hiring, you are risking having a perpetual revolving door of turnover as you make bad hires (“garbage in”) who don’t last (“garbage out”). (Note: we also subscribe to the notion that one person’s garbage may be another person’s treasure!)
  1. The Foundation - Comprehensive Job Descriptions.  Good hiring practices center around competency-based job descriptions.  These documents permit you, the employer, the opportunity to clearly articulate the required - and desired - background, skills, education, and behaviors from candidates eventually filling these rolls.  Additionally, well written job descriptions give less desirable candidates the opportunity to “self-select” themselves out of consideration.  The best fit candidates will possess the necessary skills or education AND be excited about performing the tasks listed in the job description.
  2. The Marketing - Intriguing Job listings.  After you have your job description, writing interesting job listings will increase the likelihood you will attract the best candidates.  Effective communications help you catch your audience’s (the best candidates out there) attention.  Which of these listings catches your attention?
    Amazing Account Execs Wanted!  Our customer-obsessed firm seeks solution oriented sales professional with least 3 years’ experience.  You bring the background and desire - we’ll bring a great team, and all the tools and resources you’ll need to be wildly successful! Account Executives Wanted.  Seeking sales professionals with at least 3 years’ experience.  Apply online or in person.

  3. The Team - Group conducted behavioral interviewing.  Bringing the successful members of your current team into the interview process improves the selection process.  The job interviews should ask the candidates to describe specific examples of their skills from previous assignments.  Having multiple team members interview potential candidates will help to surface inconsistencies from less qualified candidates and helps ensure your organization is communicating with one voice.
  4. Test the Water First – Pre-employment assessments.  While a majority of organizations still fail to utilize this valuable tool, assessments can predict whether candidates are capable of doing the job and the extent to which they are a good “fit” for your organization and share the values of the firm.
  5. Cross your T’s and dot your I’s - Check references.  Experts agree that consistently conducting thorough reference checks for every new hire is the most frequent “corner cut” in the hiring process.   It is essential to have a telephone conversation with at least two references for every new hire.  Since there are many legal hazards around providing references, listen to what is not said as well as what is said.  In other words, if the reference is reticent to say much at all, perhaps it’s because their mother taught them the lesson of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Comprehensive job descriptions, interesting job listings, group behavioral interviewing, pre-employment assessments, and checking references.  It may not sound particularly innovative or easy, but it is the best way to prevent having to take out avoidable garbage.  Until next time, remember take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself!

Jim Hartigan, Chief Business Development Officer and Partner joined OrgWide Services, a Training/e-Learning, Communications, Surveys and Consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim’s last position was that of Senior Vice President – Global Brand Services where he provided strategic leadership and business development and support to the $22B enterprise of 10 brands and more than 3,400 hotels in 80 countries around the world. His team was responsible for ensuring excellence in system product quality, customer satisfaction, market research, brand management, media planning, and sustainability.

Jim Hartigan
Chief Business Development Officer & Partner
OrgWide Services
165 N. Main Street, Suite 202
Collierville, TN 38017
office: 901.850.8190  Ext. 230
mobile: 901.628.6586

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