The checklist for hiring is pretty simple: write a job description, post the job, screen resumes, prepare interview questions, conduct interviews, call references, and write the offer or rejection letter. But it’s often missing one key component: check for skills.
Checking for skills used to mean personality tests or was reserved for mainly technical jobs where solving math problems or submitting code could tell you something about a candidate. Today, however, in a world where it’s easy to load up your resume with keywords to game the large job sites, checking for skills has never been more important.
Skills like the ability to write a coherent paragraph or use Excel to do basic analysis (see how I used to ferret out Excel skills) cannot be assessed by simply interviewing a candidate or even using video resumes. That’s where companies like HireArt are looking to change the game. HireArt recruits candidates for clients and then asks candidates to complete online questions and tasks that HireArt has created to highlight the skills of candidates.
The benefit of the service to employers is that working with HireArt forces the employer to think through what skills they actually need and, interestingly, challenges their assumptions about who fits the bill. I recently used HireArt’s system and found that it forced me to be much more disciplined about the hiring process, without being too time consuming. Because I had to pinpoint what skills I was looking for, I had to think more critically about exactly what I needed a candidate to do. Then I worked with HireArt to use questions and case studies they have perfected, as well as tasks of my own.
In HireArt’s online system, employers can quickly and easily review the work that candidates submit. While an employer can access the traditional documents such as resumes and cover letters, the focus is all about the answers–seeing how a candidate completed a question or task–rather than meaningless keywords. It’s subtle, but I think it also really helps dismantle the common bias that the only good candidates come from “brand name” schools.
Finally, this all takes place before interviews, which is incredibly helpful and frankly, saves a lot of time.
You’ve heard the old adages: be slow to hire and fast to fire–which is difficult when you’re trying to move mountains with a small team and few dollars. Or “hire for attitude, train for skill”–which is a lot easier if you’re a big multi-million dollar company.
Hiring in the early stages of a company can be a shoot from the hip go with your gut proposition. But it doesn’t have to be. At a stage when hiring can make or break a company, checking skills has to be on the checklist.
[Image: Flickr user Jeff Meyer]