In The Workplace

We are experiencing high turnover among employees who have been with us between three and 12 months. We have no recourse but to advertise, hire, and train their replacements. Such hiring is not only costly, but time-consuming, and seems counter-productive. What’s wrong with our hiring process and system? — Mountain View.

Three condominium officials were screening a couple interested in renting a unit. “What kind of work do you do?” they asked. “My husband is an engineer and I’m a school teacher,” the woman replied. “Any children?” The husband replied: “Two, the eldest is eight years old, while the other one is seven years old.”

“Animals?” queried one building official. “Oh no!” the couple chorused. “They’re very well behaved.”

At times, we can be in a situation where miscommunication is possible due to lack of complete information. This happens a lot in the workplace when job applicants and their prospective employers failed to have a meeting of minds prior to the signing of an employment contract. But that’s not all. There are many reasons why newly-hired employees resign within one year of onboarding.

Why is this happening? You’ll have to allow me to conduct an audit of your hiring process and other pertinent systems for us to determine what is (or are) causing the high turnover rate among the new workers.

An exit interview might help, except that some resigning employees would not antagonize management in the hope of maintaining the goodwill necessary to fast-track the release of their terminal pay, clearance, employment certificate, and also to ensure the company provides positive feedback to their new employers doing background checks.

Assuming that you can’t get important leads from your resigned workers, we can only hazard some guesses on the cause or causes of these early resignations. Here are two off the top of my head:

You may be spending a lot of time asking questions that are already indicated in the applicant’s curriculum vitae. Unless there are discrepancies that would raise possible questions about the person’s integrity, there’s no point clarifying issues that are already in the past. Rather, it’s best to examine what the applicants can do in actual, real work life. So, what are these irrelevant and unnecessary interview questions?

One, tell me something about yourself. This is a time-waster, if not a manifestation that the interviewer is not prepared to conduct an intelligent discussion. Besides, any Tom, Dick, and Harry can give you his best, rehearsed answer without blinking an eye.

Two, what are your weaknesses, if any? In recent decades, this question has triggered anxiety if not outright panic among job applicants. But not anymore. Answers to this question can always be faked by applicants who have seriously done their homework.

Three, what do you most value about your education? What’s the point of listening to old stories on how an applicant has enjoyed his college days? This question has become irrelevant as employers develop an appreciation for dropouts, who might just be the next Steve Jobs.

Four, what have your last three performance ratings been? Come on. Are you ready to hear some white lies? Instead, paraphrase your question to this: “If I asked your old boss about your performance, what would be his answer?”

Five, how much are you receiving for your current job? Are you negotiating or screening candidates? Better to follow the company’s salary scheme so that you don’t upset internal equity. If not, advertise the salary range of the job to eliminate those on the high side.

Six, why are you planning to leave your current employer? Most applicants would tell you — “it’s for greener pastures.” The truth is — they hate their toxic boss but won’t want to admit it. So, why bother asking?

Last, what were your significant work accomplishments? This question is unnecessary as most CVs contain the applicants’ milestones. And many extraordinary accomplishments may have been achieved with the help of other people.

These irrelevant interview questions are incomplete. The message is clear. You can’t gauge the capacity of an applicant based on his past success or failure. John F. Kennedy was right: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Conducting job interviews is imperative but time-consuming. That’s why, instead of focusing on the past tense, you should ask questions that would examine the applicant’s capacity to handle actual job situations. This includes how applicants can manage an irate customer, even under stressful conditions caused by a bad system or bad manager.

The objective is to test the applicants’ ability to handle a recurring work issue.

It should be easy if you delve on your company’s common work issues like: What are the top three things you will do during your first week on the job? What would you do to reduce the high operational cost in this department? In what ways will you seek support from your boss and colleagues? What would you do to create immediate resolutions to certain problems?

How would you attempt to improve the work process in our department? The list goes on and on. Even if the applicants are not hired, you will gain valuable perspective in managing the company’s problems.

All of these can be done prior to the onboarding process or signing of an employment contract. Much better if you do the orientation for new employees as a major part of the hiring process, and not after.


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