If you’ve worked in the business world for several years, chances are good that you’ve been involved in a hiring process that resulted in a “mis-hire.” Mis-hires can happen for several reasons including recruiting challenges, an unstructured interview process, settling on a candidate, and internal politics. In Competency-Based Interviewing: Part I, we explored how a structured competency-based approach to interviewing can reduce the risk of a mis-hire. With the average cost of a mis-hire ranging from one to two times the cost of a new hire’s annual salary, it’s alarming that businesses are not as disciplined or diligent in implementing competency-based interviewing (CBI) as they should be. Limited knowledge of how to implement CBI is one reason for its low rate of adoption. If an organization does implement CBI, it’s not always utilized to its full potential due to resistance to change and a lack of discipline enforcing its use.  

TalentRise recently sat down with David Dubin, Founder and CEO of People Strategies, to ask him questions related to CBI and implementation challenges. People Strategies simplifies hiring and talent management processes with innovative technologies. Their team combines traditional assessment with human behavioral science to fully understand a job candidate’s or employee’s place and path within a company.

When and how did the business idea for People Strategies begin?

I’ve worked at consulting companies for my entire career and one thing rang true with every consulting project—a business strategy meant nothing without the people. I decided to create a company focused on people-related business issues. Specifically, I wanted to offer tools that anyone could use to help bring the benefits of people science to their organization.

I’m a hiring authority who has made mis-hires in the past and am interested in implementing CBI. Where’s a good place to begin?

There are many reasons why new hires are not successful and don’t work out at an organization. The best place to start is to find parallels in all of your mis-hires. For example, what similarities do you see among employees who are not doing well? Also, what is alike about the people successfully working in this role at your company? 

This can be accomplished through incumbent and exit interviews. The results of these interviews—with past and current employees—are the critical competencies you want to measure in your potential candidate interviews. Critical competencies are the behaviors needed for success in a particular role. Some examples include prioritizing and planning, communication, or quality commitment. Once you discover the critical competencies for a specific position, you can craft interview questions about the behaviors related to those competencies. For example, if you determine that to be successful in a role, the employee must have the ability to provide clear communication and directions, an interview question can be, “Tell me about a time when you had to walk someone through a long step-by-step process.” 

I’ve implemented CBI into my organization’s hiring process but our hiring teams are stuck in their ways and resisting the adoption of CBI. Is there anything I can do?

Yes, this is a common issue I’ve seen in many companies. You train your staff on CBI, but a week, a month, a year later, all the trainees are still interviewing the same way they always have. So while it’s essential to educate, it’s also important to motivate and encourage people to adopt these new practices and commit to making a change.

I start every training with a conversation on why each member of the hiring team should care about what they are going to learn. The trainer needs to understand that people are impacted by information in different ways. Some like stories and emotion, while others prefer numbers, return on investment (ROI), and statistics. So first, it’s important to know what motivates each person on your team and then tailor your training and persuasion technique accordingly. 

Most importantly, it’s critical to make it as easy as possible for your employees to adopt these new practices. This is where nudging comes into play. You may have heard of nudge theory, first described by Nobel-Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler. A nudge helps people make a particular (better) decision without restricting their freedom of choice.

You want to apply this theory to your hiring managers to make it easy for them to choose the structured CBI process. Let’s nudge them in the right direction so that the BEST choice for interviewing is also the EASIEST to choose and use.

Interview guide: One way to make CBI the easiest choice is by providing hiring managers with a structured interview guide. This reduces the amount of effort required of your hiring managers and makes it an easier decision to use the structured interview process. Your hiring managers are much more likely to choose CBI if you provide them with an interview guide with the following:

  • Questions specific to each role and the ability to print the interview guide
  • The ability to select interview questions from a list that matches the job description for which they are hiring
  • The ability to read questions from a tablet or laptop and take notes during the interview

Accountability: You must have a system in place to hold hiring managers accountable for the new way of conducting interviews. It’s human nature that when resources are limited, people are unlikely to change from the status quo unless something or someone pushes them. What does this mean for CBI? It means that if you assign interviewing training to each hiring manager, there should be some way for you to:

  • Ensure it is completed 
  • Test his/her knowledge
  • Ensure he/she appropriately used the interview protocol put in place after each interview is completed

Tying this into the previous question, suppose a new hire has performance issues, especially within a competency assessed during the interview. You now can go back to the interview discussion, read the notes on this question, and determine what went wrong. For example, after reading through the notes, you could find a problem with the actual interview question or with how the interviewer asked it. 

Is your organization looking for tools or programs to simplify your CBI process?

If the answer is yes, check out People Strategies’ interview guide builder. This user-friendly online platform makes it simple to create a structured interview guide in minutes. With over 300 pre-loaded PhD-created interview questions—mapped onto 25+ of the most common critical competencies—you can drag and drop to create your easy-to-use interview guide. You can then digitally assign it to your hiring managers, send it to them via email, or even print out a hard copy if preferred. This platform is an easy way to get great job-related questions for an interview faster than if you were just writing them from scratch. If you already have great questions and just need a place to house them, People Strategies can upload them for you to get all of your hiring managers on the same page. This platform also provides a manner in which to track the scores of all your interviewees.