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Qualities sought by employers in new employees

There are traits that are common in the recruitment of new hires for all types of positions, from senior management to entry-level jobs. When an applicant possesses these qualities, they move up to the top of the stack of candidates with recruiters. Some of them include the following.

• Enthusiasm and passion

• Team player

• Good communication skills

• Long term potential

• Ability to put skills in action

• Ambition

• Responsiveness

• Good interpersonal skills

• Hard worker

• Good work ethic

These are all desired “soft skills” in addition to the required “hard skills” for the position. Obviously positions carry with it the specific requirements necessary to perform the job. All of the functions should be included in a succinct job description and posted for applicants to review. In screening applications and resumes it becomes easier to pass over those who obviously don’t meet minimum requirements. Interviews should only be conducted for those who are deemed meeting requirements. The hiring process is very time consuming and can be streamlined by narrowing down the candidates who truly have the potential for the job. Some of them include:

1.  Technical skills

2.  Experience

3.  Education

4.  Qualifications

5. Computer skills

These skills certainly cannot be ignored as requirements but having the technical skills alone is not enough. When evaluating candidates who possess similar technical skills and experience, when soft skills are absent or are not emphasized in the interview, the candidate with personality, communication skills, etc. will most often be chosen over other candidates with identical resumes.

Many new hires with top notch technical skills, education and experience fail in the job because of the lack of being able to “play well with others” or deficient interpersonal skills that affect relations with co-workers, boss and customers. Attitude cannot be trained like technical skills. The quandary is how to determine if the candidate possesses these desirable skills prior to hiring. The interview process can uncover some but a short interview will not always provide a complete picture. The most common mistake hiring managers make is putting too much emphasis on the interview alone. Some candidates are better at selling themselves than others. A multi-faceted process is needed for the most successful hiring. The other things that are important to help ensure you don’t make hiring mistakes include:

• Reference Checking

• Background checks

• Testing

• Multiple interviews including others

Hiring the wrong person costs the company time and money. Bringing the wrong person on board can affect productivity, employee morale, customer service, and more. Providing a clear, descriptive job description to the candidate will sell the job to the right candidate. Asking probing questions about their experience and ability related to the job functions will help you to determine who is the best candidate.

Proactive recruiting and not relying on job seekers to find you is a step in the right direction to obtain a pool of ideal candidates and avoid making poor hiring decisions. If you are a big company with a competent Human Resources Department with professional recruiters it is easier to work through the process. For smaller businesses it is imperative to follow guidelines to ensure a good hiring process. Being aware of the laws and regulations on hiring is very important to avoid discrimination in your hiring practices. There can be far reaching legal ramifications when not committed to due diligence. Making decisions based on hiring relatives or friends based only on the relationship or recommendation is generally a road to disaster. Remember it is always easier to hire someone than it is to terminate an employee who doesn’t work out. This is no place for “the good old boy network”.  You will eventually have repercussions from these kinds of decisions. Training costs, turnover issues, employee morale problems, loss of customers, reputation damage, etc. can become overwhelming when the proper attention is not given to the important hiring process in the company. You cannot overestimate the importance of getting it right.

It should go without saying that making good hiring decisions is critical to the success of any business, large or small. Don’t shortchange the process. It takes patience, proper screening and careful analysis. It is a tough business. Whether job applicants are scarce or plentiful, dedicating time and effort to the hiring process will produce far-reaching, either positive or negative, results.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com