Hiring Employees: The Value of Behavioral Consistency
Effective hiring goes by a fancier name: behavioral consistency. Behavioral consistency simply means that whatever a person did in the past is likely what they will do in the future in the same or a similar situation. And, if you’re not already, now is a crucial time to include it in your employee hiring practice.
“Wait a minute!” you may be thinking.”Someone tell this guy we’re in a recession. Helllooo? I am certainly not planning to hire anyone!” That brings up two good reasons why now is the time to get informed:
- Recessions end. Some forecasters are now predicting that this one will start turning around in the fourth quarter this year.
- You may start hiring back previously laid-off employees before you hire people off the street. This often makes sense because your former employees already know your company and may likely be thrilled that you will consider bringing them back. Good morale does wonders for productivity! Even more, if you’re rehiring after a layoff, you may actually be mandated to first hire back your laid-off workers by terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
Hiring Employees Step 1: Developing a Job Posting
Let’s talk about using behavioral consistency for hiring previously laid-off workers. Your company may no longer have the job at which a previously laid-off worker was a whiz. That means you do not want to hire the person back based completely on past job performance. But since they were a whiz at one job, they may be great at another one.
You first have to be able to tell the person about the new job. You can do this in a job posting and see how well your assessment (like a pre-employment questionnaire or an interview) says they fit the new job duties. Or, you can go straight to a hiring interview and skip the posting step. I like to use job postings because they summarize the job so applicants can see if their skills fit the job before they bother with the job assessment.
You can get a job posting ready and start to figure out what to ask applicants in one step. Do this by collecting information from people who know the job best. It’s time for another fancy name. This process of gathering information is called a job analysis. Keep the information you collect in a file on the recruitment for this position. Date the notes and have the person from whom you collected the information sign them. Doing this may pay dividends if your process gets questioned in court, by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), or by another group. By the way, the fancy name for the information-giver in this case is a subject matter expert.
An Example Job Posting
Let’s take an example of creating a job posting so you can easily look for behavioral consistency in your job candidates. We’ll say that, pre-recession, your company had separate shipping & receiving and inventory departments. They were merged in a cost-saving step. You had an employee who was laid off before that merger took place in an earlier cost-saving step. So, that person’s exact job no longer exists but you now need to hire for a position in this newly-formed department.
The following is a list of the basic job requirements of the position:
- Unload product off trucks, check it in with an electronic inventory control device, and verify the shipment against the packing slip that came with it to make sure what has arrived is what was ordered.
- If any product is on back-order, enter it in a computer “tickler file” to follow-up later.
- Required lifting is less than 20 pounds. Pallets jacks lift the heavy stuff.
- The most important things in this job require someone who is really detail-oriented and correctly logs in merchandise off the truck. You want someone who sweats the small stuff! All of this information is on the job posting and will help attract people with skills and interest in this work.
Hiring Employee Step 2: Prioritizing Job Skills
Next we’ll consider what the job analysis and information gathering tells you that you do not put in the job posting. You will use this data to choose questions to ask in the job assessment, such as an interview, and to rank applicants. In this position, correctly logging in the merchandise is more important than anything else. The order information in your store is on an Excel spreadsheet, so this position needs to be able to bring up the order on the computer and make a tickler file for back-orders. Applicants do not have to be a whiz at all of this, but must be reasonably skilled so they can do these things independently.
The following additional job duties and abilities are relatively minor in importance:
- At slow times on the sales floor, this position moves product from the storeroom to the sales floor. If customers come up to him or her while putting out product on the sales floor, the position tries to sell it.
- Checking in the product is a simple step of waving the device over a bar code on the box. It is not worth asking applicants if they have experience at this.
Hiring Employees Step 3: Applying Behavioral Consistency to Hiring
Now that you have a clear sense of not only the knowledge, skills and abilities the positions requires, but also how to prioritize them, you can apply behavioral consistency easily when reviewing your candidates for the position. The following is a breakdown of each area that must be assessed and how to apply behavioral consistency.
If the laid-off person has logged in merchandise, or done something similar in the past, he or she gets more points in evaluation of their response to the interview question than applicants who do not fit the job duty as well. If the person has done work that requires attention to detail and is similar to the job duty, they also get points but fewer than the other applicant because their experience does not fit this important job requirement as closely. We’ll call that the reasonably- skilled level. If the person has done something that is detail-oriented but not similar to the job duty they get even fewer points than the reasonably- skilled level. If the person has not been detail-oriented in past work they get no points.
Knowledge of Excel
If the laid-off person put data on Excel spreadsheets, he or she gets more points when their response is evaluated. If the person used another type of software spreadsheet, they get fewer points. If the person seems to have some computer skills but not on spreadsheets, they get fewer points still. If the person has little computer background, they get no points.
If this job assessment shows that the laid-off person is reasonably skilled in these important job duties, you’ve found your new employee!
Remember that you need to follow NY collective bargaining agreements or any work rules your company may have that override some or all of this. So check for them first!
Joe Gross MPA, SPHR
Owner, HR & Policy Solutions, PLLC
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