07072014bBrookings posted recent data demonstrating re-postings for healthcare, computers/IT, engineers, and science positions are higher now than in 2006 during the height of demand. The same data shows management and public service roles trending to reach 2006 levels by end of Q1 2015. What does this mean? It means STEM positions are taking longer to fill as demand is growing and supply is getting tighter.

So if demand outstrips supply, why are hiring managers taking twice or three times longer to make a decision? Reasons like being too busy, travel, budgetary constraints, or not the “right fit” are most common. All of these could be valid; however all of these are excuses.

The real reason is their fear of making a bad decision that would result in a bad hire. Although they make tough and big decisions each day, they take the gut out of it with quantitative numbers, hedged options and qualitative data from other sources. But when making a decision on a human being, the fear of a bad decision causing a waste of training costs, loss of productivity, more work for them and for others , eventually paralyze a decision maker as the spotlight is directly on them. So it’s no wonder hiring managers run for cover and find excuses to wait for perfect candidates to come along. Who wants to be blamed for hiring “that” person?

Over the last five years, we’ve seen unprecedented hesitation and risk mitigation when making hiring decisions in a tight labor market. Why? Because we hear them talk07072014c about hiring on “gut feel”, and it puts the fear of God in them. Would you put your career at risk on a pure gut feel? It seems most companies (large and small) talk a good game about wanting to hire the best available talent as fast as possible, but when you ask can you hit these timelines, what does talent look like, and how to measure each candidate, the conversation becomes a little uncomfortable.

The way we see it…it’s not their fault. No one has helped them understand that to capture the talent they want, they have to be crystal clear on what to look for, put a process in place to source and vet, then make sure they are measuring against those standards and process timelines.

It starts with clarity around the tools needed to provide a more quantitative and qualitative process. So take the “gut” out of hiring with these six tips:

  1. Accurate job description and profile – review every six months to make sure it is relevant to the business outcomes needed to be successful in the role.
  2. Relevant competencies aligned with behaviors – competencies are the skills needed for being successful in the role, and the candidates HAVE to be able to demonstrate that their behaviors from past experiences are aligned with the competencies.
  3. Defined interview process clearly identifying roles, responsibilities, timelines, and steps -- who is doing what, when, why, and what outcomes are they expected to deliver within the process?
  4. Behavior based interview guide – use your competencies to develop questions to get the answers you are looking for.
  5. Rating system – if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
  6. Assessment tools– online cultural or personality – there is a lot of false information about how these tools are the panacea for hiring. Assessments are helpful in providing a different view of the candidate, especially a view of how they see themselves, but they are not the only tool to be used in making a decision. Do your research and find the one that fits your process and outcomes.

07072014aSo next time you get a manager who can’t seem to make up their mind, first understand where they are coming from. A fear based place that needs certainty before making a decision. You can provide them the tools and process to help them make informed, quantitative, and qualitative decisions. Win them over with six easy steps.

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