Job interviews should also focus on retention

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Rey Elbo-125

In The Workplace

Soon after we selected some new employees put them through orientation, we unexpectedly received their resignations, while some of them were no-shows on the second day. It’s very disappointing to realize that the time, money and effort that we put into the recruitment process went to waste. What’s wrong with our hiring procedure? — Without a Clue.

When he was 88 years old, the late American Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once found himself on a train. When the conductor came by, Justice Holmes couldn’t find his ticket, and he was terribly upset. He searched all of his pockets and fumbled through his wallet without success. The conductor was sympathetic. He said:

“Don’t worry, Mr. Holmes, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company will be happy to trust you. After you reach your destination, you’ll probably find the ticket and you can just mail a copy to us.”

But the conductor’s kindness failed to put Mr. Holmes at ease. Still very much upset, he said: “My dear friend, my problem is not about the loss of my ticket, but to find out where I’m going!”

One of the major difficulties facing anyone in Human Resources and those in line management is the disappointment when newly-hired employees back out after only a few days or weeks. Your company seems to be in deeper trouble as many of your new hires disappear after the first day of onboarding.

If you have not yet discovered the reason, then I should tell you what’s missing. Just like Justice Holmes, you may have failed to understand where you’re going in both the short-term and the long-term. Many of our hiring managers are more focused on testing the knowledge, skills and habits of job applicants in performing the tasks in the workplace.

Many recruitment managers and requisitioning people managers fail to recognize the need to explain to job applicants what’s in store for them should they accept the job. And I’m not even talking of the pay and perks package. There is more to it than that. So what are they? Let me list down a few of the applicants’ “other” expectations from their prospective boss and the organization, in general.

Shortly before making a job offer, ask the following questions to the applicants to determine the future of your work relations:

One, what do you expect your boss to do to help you succeed in this job? This is important because there are people out there who need (or want) close supervision while others want almost complete freedom in performing their tasks. Some would want management to respect their opinion on anything, which may not necessarily mean accepting them all. So which one fits the management style of the prospective boss and the whole organization?

Two, what are the things that could possibly irritate you in a work relationship? The answers to this question could include almost anything, from management ignoring insignificant issues that are very important to the employees. Sometimes, new employees may find new solutions to old problems but management would not hear of it because it may compromise the integrity of the boss who implemented it a long time ago.

Three, do you have any future plans or issues that would affect your performance? You may not know it. Therefore, it’s best to ask this question as well. A job applicant may be planning to migrate to another country, pursue higher education, join a family in the province or start a business. Of course, sincere answers may be difficult to secure, but somehow, you will get the opportunity to read the applicant’s body language, should this question be raised.

Four, would you be willing to perform overtime work without pay at times? This question is typical in a Japanese corporation where employees, even managers are constrained to work beyond office hours if their Japanese bosses are still around. They call it service overtime work, which is part of the Japanese organizational culture. So, when it comes to Japanese management, it is best to ask this question to find out if there’s a general fit.

Five, how long should you stay in a company without a promotion? This is a tricky question that might best verified when you review the applicant’s CV. However, chances are there are applicants who will reveal their intentions by saying they would be happy to receive a promotion in three years’ time, when they’ve in their current job for 10 years without a promotion.

Six, what would you do if your boss insults you in front of others? This reminds me of a friend who, unmindful of their co-workers and guests around him, suddenly and without provocation insulted an employee about her looks. This is a wicked reflection of the prospective boss’s management style. Sure, there are bosses like that who, for some reason, may forgot to act appropriately and professionally at all times.

Last, describe your model boss in terms of “consistency” and “flexibility.” The answer may be too obvious to some people, but somehow, applicants would want to know how their prospective boss handles situations with various people. At the same time, this does not mean having a rock-solid management policy that can’t be adjusted in case of extra-ordinary circumstances.

These questions are by no means complete. You can devise your own list by keeping tabs of the most common reasons why employees leave and use them to test the patience or perseverance of the company’s potential hires. To arrive at more questions like these, review the results of exit interviews with your former employees and incorporate them into your job interview questions.

ELBONOMICS: Fire your job applicants long before they accept a job offer.


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