How to Choose the Right Hiring Method
Marten Runow, CEO and Founder of international recruitment company Performia International, answers our questions
Marten Runow, the founder of the international company Performia, developed the Performia Hiring System in the 1980s. Through a fixed sequence of actions, this system allows recruitment to be speeded up and applicants selected who will become the future backbone of the company. Having stood the test of time, the system has peoved to be simple and provide accurate results even when applied across a range of businesses. Since Vladimir Sidorenko went into partnership with Marten Runow and opened the Performia office in Moscow in 2001, more than 600 company owners, executives and HR managers have completed the course and are applying the system effectively today to hire productive personnel. In 2004 Performia Kazakhstan was opened in Almaty.
When hiring, what are the most important aspects to consider?
From our experience there are four major areas to look into when you hire people into your organization. Then what you find should be verified. First and foremost there is one thing we all need and want when we get a new staff member on board. Whoever it is, he or she should be able to produce results. This might look like a too simple answer but after having been in this market for more than 15 years we can say with certainty that when a company is making a major recruitment mistake, there has normally not been enough attention put onto this point. When we say "results" that means something valuable produced for the organization that is as well measurable. There should be both volume and quality. The higher up in an organization you intend to hire a new person, the more important is this aspect.
Besides the proven ability to produce results you should always look for competence or knowledge. When we say competence we don't mean theoretical knowledge but the proven ability to really use the data one has in practical applications. Great grades from school might look impressive but experience has taught us that we have to look deeper if we want to find real competence.
Another aspect is motivation. Why does a person really want to have this job? This as well is a factor in choosing who to hire or pass over.
Finally but not least is the factor we would call personality. You don't work alone in most jobs and especially in executive positions the requirements on the ability to work and understand others become an increasingly important factor. The less authorative an organization is or intends to be the more important it is to find people who have real self confidence, who can understand others and create natural and flowing cooperation. To find out about personality you need to test the applicants and compare the profile to the job requirements and this is one of the areas my company has specialized in for the last 17 years.
Then you need to verify what you have found if there is any slightest doubt. That includes contacts with previous employers for references and sometimes to also get actual evidences of results that the applicant has talked about. For example when you hire a computer programmer you can ask to see programs he/she has produced and verify the knowledge about it. However, to verify knowledge is best and fastest done by someone who himself has a lot of experience and skill.
How much of all this is feasible to learn to do yourself?
Depending on the size of your company and hiring activity you could either buy all of these services from professionals or you could learn to do it all by yourself. For a bigger organization with a lot of hiring, personnel changes etc there are many good reasons to make sure you have the technology in-house to keep full control of the entire process. For a small to midsize company it could as well be a very good idea to learn it all not only to save some money but to also have a better understanding of personnel matters at the top of the organization. For smaller companies (less than 20 people) I would recommend to learn about the hiring basics and then to buy externally competent services that has to do with personality and other testing.
Providing you really know a working technology for hiring, what are the limits?
I would say that it is not possible to have a 100% success rate. There are still areas that are more or less hard to control and life is moving which means that circumstances changes constantly. For example you might hire a very productive and well functioning secretary to find out that five months later this person will quit from your organization because her husband just got an offer for an executive position in another city or abroad. If you can't stand any failures you should not work with hiring as one has to always be prepared for new circumstances. However, when I say 100% is impossible I would as well say that 85-90% success rate is possible providing you know what you are doing. For example in Sweden when we have done quality control projects we have measured up to 94% success rate and by that I mean a client who we helped hire a new person and who states nine months later that they are satisfied with the outcome.
You say that results and productivity is such an important factor. Can you tell us more about that?
Oh yes! This is actually the key to successful hiring. Back in 1992 I studied the Hubbard Management Technology in Los Angeles and there I got this key concept we have been using since then. Simply put, a person who has proven that he can produce a valuable result can and more importantly will normally do it again. In sports this hiring method is used entirely. When a football club is hiring a new player they look for "production records". How many goals in what time? Etc. It is all very natural and what we have found is that this simple principle has to a large degree fallen out of use within the business/industry area. However, we have proven over the years that it is as useful there as it is in sports hiring. One just needs to know how to do correctly.
Can you give us some hints on how to do it?
Absolutely. However, to give you a complete idea on it would take quite some time but I will give you some areas to focus in on. First you need to understand what a "product" is. A product in this sense is a valuable final result of an action that has an exchange value outside or within the organization. Example: The "product" of an executive could be "A viable and expanding organization". If profits and size are expanding the executive could be said to deliver his/her product. The product of a security guard could be "a safe working environment" and it could be measured by "distraction free days". What we have seen over the years is that people who like to produce wants to know what you expect from them (which could be said to be the product). They then try their best to deliver what you ask for. When you ask applicants of what "products" they have delivered in the past you will make the surprising find that some people have a very low or no grasp of that concept at all and others know exactly. Those people who can tell you about previous products and as well the results in terms of volume are normally your best and most potential candidates. To learn more about it there are seminars.
What do you say about those who buy the entire hiring process? Is that advisable?
In some circumstances definitely yes. The main reasons are normally that the person in charge does not have enough time to handle the entire process and thus wants someone else to do it. The company will lose valuable production by all the time and effort it takes to conduct the process themselves. Another common reason is that the position they want to fill is so important that they want some professional company to do it for them. Now, what is really important is to require a product also from your recruitment supplier. That means that in case you buy this service you should be presented all the important information you need in order to not only take a wise decision but as well to know better how to introduce and understand the person they present.
When buying a full recruitment service, what do you really pay for, professionalism and technology or just a brand name?
I think it is a mix of both. The most important is that you, before you buy such services is given a possibility to contact other clients and ask them how satisfied they are. Require a list so it is not just one or two. Just because recruitment companies work in the field of people does not mean that their results cannot be looked at. The technology is one part, the person who actually conducts the process is also an important part. Both have to be right. The brand name has a value but that is quite limited.
What do you think about the recruitment arena and the hiring process in the future?
The basics will remain the same. You need a job well done and thus you need a functional and productive person. There will probably be much more stress on proven production records in CVs in the future. More of the process will be done over the Internet and companies have to be better organized and know how to manage in order to keep their good personnel. The hiring processes as well as the motion in the job market will also become faster than today. In the U.S. basic knowledge like the ability to read and write has fallen dramatically and this has put even more stress on the business community. Hopefully your country will make sure to keep its fine traditions in this area. Personnel problems and low productivity can many times be directly linked to problems with literacy and unworkable education. Recruiters will have to face and know about these problems as well.
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