'Will they work through their lunch break?'

This is a question I was asked recently by a small business owner. I know this guy well and he's not the sort of manager to dump piles of work on his staff and expect them to stay until it's all done. 
What he really meant was that he wanted to hire someone who would work hard and be prepared to go the extra mile when necessary to deliver on time. 
Know exactly what you're looking for
When setting out on a recruitment campaign, the first thing to do is to identify the job requirements and to define what you mean by these.
Here are a couple of definitions that you'll want to consider:

  • Conscientious: wishing to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly
  • Work ethic: the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward

Not so fast....  
When in a hurry to fill a vacancy yesterday, this defining stage is commonly missed out, leading business owners to make poor hiring decisions. They don't know what they're looking for or when they've found it. 
Your business needs people who can also manage their time effectively, prioritise and deliver quality work to tight deadlines. 

  • Good time management: enables you to work smarter, not harder, so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high. 

It's not all about working lunches
Having people with these skills and qualities really does matter to your business. You rely on them to work with minimal supervision and if a person can't/won't pull their weight, the rest of your team suffers along with your clients. 
So how do you tell if a candidate is conscientious, has a good work ethic and strong time management skills?
'Would you work through your lunch break to meet a deadline?' isn't going to cut it as an interview question. 
They will simply answer: 'of course', because that's what they know you want to hear. 
Afterwards, they will also quietly withdraw themselves from your recruitment process. 
Who wants to work for someone who asks that kind of interview question?
However nicely you phrase the question, it will still lead the quality candidates you want to attract and hire, to make assumptions about the culture of your organisation. You can be sure that they will also tell all their friends about your 'killer' question. 

Do your due diligence
Using structured interviews and asking candidates to give you examples of these skills and qualities is a good first stage. This will give you a feel for how they might behave in the role. 
To complete your assessment thoroughly however, you need to invest in carefully designed, relevant, job-related tasks to allow candidates to really show you how they would tackle the day-to-day activities. You'll get hard evidence of the things you're looking for, particularly time management skills, and this will differentiate the gems. You'll also see who struggles and doesn't have what it takes to thrive in your team. 
The final stage is to take a look at the person under the microscope. Psychometric assessments give you an insight into what makes them tick that you can't get from an interview. You'll find out what motivates them, how accurate, thorough and systematic they are, and how conscientious. 
If you're fed up with hiring people who don't work out as planned because they've just told you what you want to hear, let's talk. We'll develop a recruitment process that you can trust.



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