Have you ever hired your bro? Do you work with your boss? bro? Have you ever wondered how the person sitting next to you actually got a job to begin with? She’s fun at trade shows, but it’s sure a drag when you have to count on her to get the job done. Or even worse, maybe she’s not even fun at trade shows.

As with most people, bosses enjoy being around people they like, even at work. So they often hire their friends to propel their companies forward, only to find they’ve placed an incompetent person among an otherwise talented staff.

Some of the effects of hiring the wrong person are hard to calculate and may affect the organization in subtle ways. A staff’s normally energetic pace around the office may decline, leading to employee complaints and arguments, all of which affect organizational performance. After all, everyone knows he only got the job because he used to skate the keyhole with the owner back in the 80s. And if he isn’t pulling his own weight, why should anyone else?

Other effects to the organization are much more tangible and affect the bottom line in an easily calculable manner. Research indicates that top performers often outperform low performers by 300 percent or more. What does that mean? Quite simply, the bro sells one pair of shoes to every three that someone qualified does. As those stockrooms fill up with pro models of riders who’ve recently switched sponsors, this factor may become more important.

Worse than flat sales are no sales at all. When it finally becomes impossible to keep the bro, and the boss finds someone to fire him (since he doesn’t want to do it himself), then friendships are lost along with sales opportunities. There are elaborate formulas to calculate the cost of turnover to an organization. These take into account many variables and apply complex mathematical models, but they can be summed up quite simply by saying that the actual cost to the organization may be more than three times the individual’s salary. So replacing a customer-service representative who made 18,000 dollars annually may cost 58,000 dollars when all is said and done.

So what is the answer to this problem? It’s really pretty easy-invest wisely in a selection system. In other words, establish valid hiring practices and hire the right people the first time. Selection systems vary in complexity and cost, but at little cost to an organization, odds for success can be increased substantially.

There are three things to consider when hiring new employees. Regardless of how potential employees are screened for these factors, if they are at least considered, one will be less likely to bring aboard the wrong person.

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior!

This is by far the most important consideration when screening potential employees. If they couldn’t sell T-shirts before, they probably can’t sell them for your company either. And it doesn’t matter if they claim that the company they previously worked for was just wack.

The most common way to find out about this aspect of a person is through interviewing. The problem with most interviewers is that they don’t follow a structured approach to interviewing. Instead they spout whatever questions pop into their head at the time of the interview. This problem is compounded by the fact that most people decide what they think of a person in less than thirteen seconds. This means that whatever the potential employee says after that point is usually not even heard, as the interviewer may have already decided the person is completely wrong and could never be cool enough to work in the company.

To maximize the use of interviewing, a company should develop a structured interview and interviewing process. Simply stated, develop a set of questions that will be used for every candidate applying for a given position. Complement this by having interviewers give all candidates the se amount of time, and record responses directly without evaluating whether they were good or not. This allows all people an even shot at success and gives interviewers an accurate record to review at a later date when they are faced with a tough decision. It also minimizes the chance of applicants claiming unfair hiring practices and pursuing legal channels. Federal labor laws call for “fair and equal treatment,” and this approach attempts to satisfy that expectation. Remember that anything written down by the interviewer is admissible in court and subject to legal scrutiny, so leave the comments about “how lame that guy was” out of your written comments. The courts may not find that to be a necessary job requirement and therefore not a valid selection criterion.

Currently, the trend in interviewing is toward behavioral questions. These types of questions focus on specific instances that candidates have faced in their previous work history, rather than asking for more open-ended responses. The following are a couple examples:

? Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation with a client, and how you resolved it without support from management.
? Describe a situation when you faced a conflict with a coworker, and explain the outcome of the issue.

By asking questions in this manner, responses should prove to be more useful in deciding whether the individual will react to situations in the manner that your organization would expect.

Cognitive ability predicts performance!

Good old-fashioned smarts are very important to the successful completion of any job. Besides past performance, this factor is arguably the single best way to predict whether or not an individual will be successful. The more complex the job and the more decision-making authority that is given to an individual, the more important this factor becomes to overall performance.

There are many tests of cognitive ability, some are good and others aren’t. When choosing these types of assessments it’s imperative to consult an expert in the field, because if the instrument has not been validated, improper use may lead to litigation.

An off-the-shelf tool is the Wonderlic (consult professionals before implementing this tool), which is well tested in the work environment. This can be administered in a simple paper and pencil form, or it can be filled out on a computer, depending on the company’s needs and financial resources. Like most cognitive-ability tests, it asks questions related to math, verbal, and written skills. Other instruments can be customized to fit the needs of an individual organization, and ultimately prove more successful at placing the right person in the right job.

The applicant and your organization must share the same values!

It’s not rocket science, right? You’ve got to hire people who have a shared vision with the organization. If your potential team manager is only recruiting pros who are into pressure flips, then your company better plan on resurrecting and marketing the 36 mm wheel. So make sure your candidate can support and enhance the direction that your products are growing.

As well as revealing an applicant’s past performance, interviewing often suggests how well their values mesh with your company’s. But there are some more informative approaches that can be employed. Instead of asking individual questions of applicants, give them a complex scenario (real life experiences the organization has faced are often the best) involving many actions and activities. Then ask them how they would address and resolve the situation. Also ask them to explain the rationale behind their decisions, and press them for detailed descriptions. Finally, don’t rely on one evaluator of their performance-involve two or three people from the organization. By using more than one interviewer, an organization can get a more comprehensive view of the candidate, a view that is less subject to bias. This method should assist in determining how well the potential employee would fit within the organization.

There are assessments that can assist in measuring this crucial factor. For sales organizations, the Chally is incredibly helpful in generating a profile that will allow one to see if the person is similar to the organization in terms of sales style and execution. It asks the candidate to respond to a series of questions that are designed to profile a person based on key indicators of sales performance. This assessment can be purchased and administered online, without substantial cost to the organization, and is invaluable in determining a candidate’s fit with the organization. For other positions, different assessments can prove equally beneficial. As always, customizable assessments can be designed which will fit an organization’s business case explicitly.

Regardless of intentions and proactive measures, choosing who to hire still comes down to making an educated guess. Every organization must decide how good it wants that guess to be, and whether failures outweigh the cost of implementing a formal selection system. At the very least, make sure you check the candidate’s references and make sure they truly have done what they claim to have done.

With current trend research showing that up to 66 percent of a company’s budget expenditures are related to payroll, it’s imperative that companies consider hiring practices at the highest levels of strategic planning. With little investment, companies can revise current practices and increase their ability to hire the most qualified applicants for the job.

Just remember, telling your bro you don’t have a job for him is a lot easier than giving him directions to the unemployment office. Or worse yet, driving him there after you file Chapter Seven.

Dale Harris is vice president, client services consultant, at Right Management Consultants, a global human-resources consulting firm in San Diego. He can be reached at: (858) 320-7788.hould assist in determining how well the potential employee would fit within the organization.

There are assessments that can assist in measuring this crucial factor. For sales organizations, the Chally is incredibly helpful in generating a profile that will allow one to see if the person is similar to the organization in terms of sales style and execution. It asks the candidate to respond to a series of questions that are designed to profile a person based on key indicators of sales performance. This assessment can be purchased and administered online, without substantial cost to the organization, and is invaluable in determining a candidate’s fit with the organization. For other positions, different assessments can prove equally beneficial. As always, customizable assessments can be designed which will fit an organization’s business case explicitly.

Regardless of intentions and proactive measures, choosing who to hire still comes down to making an educated guess. Every organization must decide how good it wants that guess to be, and whether failures outweigh the cost of implementing a formal selection system. At the very least, make sure you check the candidate’s references and make sure they truly have done what they claim to have done.

With current trend research showing that up to 66 percent of a company’s budget expenditures are related to payroll, it’s imperative that companies consider hiring practices at the highest levels of strategic planning. With little investment, companies can revise current practices and increase their ability to hire the most qualified applicants for the job.

Just remember, telling your bro you don’t have a job for him is a lot easier than giving him directions to the unemployment office. Or worse yet, driving him there after you file Chapter Seven.

Dale Harris is vice president, client services consultant, at Right Management Consultants, a global human-resources consulting firm in San Diego. He can be reached at: (858) 320-7788.