Finding and hiring the right person for any job starts with knowing what you need before you go looking. My previous articles emphasized the need for a clear description of the duties and tasks of the job and an estimate of the costs and time required to become an employer. Before you hire anyone, however, you have to attract people to want to work with you and collect enough information about them to make an informed decision on whether they can do the job and work well with you for the long term.
Your prospective employee is doing exactly the same, both in trying to be attractive enough that you want to offer them a job, and in trying to collect enough information about you that they can decide if you will be good to work for. You have to be willing to give the potential employee the information they need and sell the job you have to them, as well as collect the information you need to recruit and select the right person.
SELLING THE JOB
First, you need to “sell” your job, your farm and you. When it comes to good workers, we are in a skill sellers market and that means the buyer (you) are competing to deliver the best offer you can, and you have to do the work to find the right seller. The competition for workers is so tight many larger operations are promoting their jobs to people from outside of Canada. You cannot just pick employees, you have to find them first, or at least find a way to get them to come to you. That means you have to be willing to promote what you have to offer and be willing to give out information.
Give potential employees the information they need; the responsibility is yours to get it to them. Start by identifying and being willing to provide information on the job, about your operation, about the job criteria, as well as what you have to offer in your work environment. You can do this many ways including:
using word-of-mouth advertising,
published advertising in traditional newspapers,
physical or online job boards, asking people you know for referrals,
working with schools, college and university placement services,
talking directly to people and encouraging them to work with you,
using recruiting agencies, etc.
Recruiting is about trying to give “skill sellers” as much information as you reasonably can on what you offer — your organization, the work environment, the job, and the qualifications a person needs to be successful in the job including the experience, education, tools, knowledge, skills, and abilities required. Only once you identify interested sellers can you move into a process of negotiating with them on whether they want to sell exclusively to you.
Once you have people interested, then you can start collecting information from them as well as continuing to share information with them. You need to be careful to collect only the information you are legally allowed to — it is illegal to ask a person’s age, religion, marital status, whether they have kids, etc. (see relevant legislation: http://www.gov.mb.ca/hrc/english/publications/factsheets/prohib.html) — just ask about experience, education, tools, knowledge, skills, and abilities required by the job.
Have the questions you need answered to know whether a person can do the job or not prepared ahead of time. Asking people to apply with a résumé or fill out an application can help keep your decision-making or screening process efficient. It allows you to offer meetings only to people who can demonstrate in writing that they have the basic qualifications. However, you should be willing to talk to people if they call you or even just show up, and depending on the type of job you need to hire for you may want to skip right to an interview if the situation presents itself.
You can start conducting the interview by phone and you can make it casual or formal, but keep it consistent. Ask the same questions of everyone who is interested in the same job so you can compare apples to apples when it comes to making a decision later. Keep notes. Do not rely on your memory or decide simply based on “your gut feeling” about the person. Collect the facts first, and then if you have to decide between equally qualified applicants you can use your impressions as the tiebreaker.
One of the very best strategies for interviewing is to be careful not to ask about what a person “would, could or should” do for you in the future. You will get a hypothetical answer and may find yourself wondering what you “woulda, coulda or shoulda” done differently when you were hiring. Instead, ask about what a person did in a similar situation in the past. These answers can be probed for details, checked with references, and will allow you to more accurately judge one person’s demonstrated skills against another’s. They can give you information on how a person manages their time, stress, conflict, performs specific tasks, works with their supervisor, contributes to the community, what knowledge they have, and even feels about the work you will want them to do.
You can also conduct basic tests of a person’s skills by asking them to show you how they perform basic tasks that would be performed on the job as long as you don’t put the person’s safety at risk or take unfair advantage of them by getting them to do the actual work without paying them.
Whatever else you do or don’t do, when you think you have chosen a person you want to offer a job to, check references. Ideally, you want to speak directly with a person’s previous supervisor to ask about the person’s demonstrated skills and if they would be willing to hire that person again (or why not), but even a teacher, religious leader or even a friend is better than not checking references at all. References, when you ask the right questions, give you better information than interviews or résumés.
Of course, even if you do everything right in the hiring process there may be times when you have to lay-off employees during work shortages or terminate their employment with you. In the next and final article in this series, I will outline what to do when the employment relationship is not working out.
RaisedonamixedfarminManitoba,Barbara Weselakisnowaseniormanagerinthe ConsultingServicesareaofMeyersNorris Penny.Herpracticespecializesinhelping clientsinavarietyofindustriesimprovetheir humanresourcesmanagementsystemsand shefocusesonhelpingorganizationsmeet theconstantlychangingdemandsoftheir operatingenvironmentthroughattracting, retainingandengagingtheirvaluablehuman resources