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North Central Business Journal News

(March 2002 issue)

by Sandra Kay Neal, Ph.D.

          The best time to select the right workforce is when there is a downturn in the economy.   Many highly competent people are seeking new employment because of downsizing. 

          To take advantage of this supply of potential employees, those in charge of hiring need to think through the needs of their companies.  Since there is an abundance of people seeking new employment, money no longer needs to be spent on recruiting.  Instead, those resources can be used to select the best employee for the company.

          The best employee not only has the requisite skills, but also the work habits and personality to fit with the company.  To ensure that the best employee is selected for a particular company, all those who directly work with that job need to develop a preferred profile for the new employee.  It helps to list all the important tasks that this job handles, to be sure that the skills needed for the job are part of the repertoire of the candidates.

          But once these skills are known, it is equally important to describe the work habits and personality that will best fit with the company.  A helpful way to do this is to list all the good things about the previous employee that were valued by co-workers and supervisors.  Sometimes people assume that these good qualities will naturally occur, but that is not likely unless they are specifically sought. 

          It is also helpful to list all the things about the previous employee (or other previous employees) that have caused problems.  These were things that should have been avoided in the initial hiring process, but were not considered at the time of hire.  It is easier to avoid problems at the time of hire than to fix them later.

          Each company has unique aspects that allow it to work effectively.    People work better with some types of people rather than others.  So it is important to find people who will work well within the current culture and climate of the company

          These desired work habits and personality traits can be selected for by planning ahead to seek them.  Many of them can be detected with pre-employment tests.  During the interview process, questions can be asked that surface desirable and undesirable habits and traits.  References should be asked to describe incidents depicting these habits and traits.  It is important to look for both the desired and undesired qualities.

          It is better for the company in the long run to spend some extra time with the selection process than to hire the wrong employee.  Describing the ideal candidate in as much detail as possible in terms of skills, work habits, and personality will increase the likelihood of finding someone close to that ideal. 

         Sandra Kay Neal holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and has 19 years experience helping organizations solve human resource issues.   Her company, Synergistic Organizational Solutions, specializes in aiding small businesses.  Dr. Neal can be reached at sos_hr@localaccess.com

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